Bret Michaels's Rock 'n' Roll World
PORTRAIT OF A ROCK STAR
"Let's be honest, I wanted to be a rock star for two reasons," Bret Michaels, 47, told PEOPLE. "To meet women and to live life on my own terms." And he's done just that: The Poison singer fronted one of the biggest glam-metal bands in the '80s, then wooed a new generation of fans with his reality TV show Rock of Love. Now the father of two has hit another milestone: bouncing back from a life-threatening brain hemorrhage. "I am so thankful," he tells PEOPLE. "I'm lucky to be alive."
A GLAM SLAM
Sporting lipstick, eyeliner – and hair teased to there! – Michaels (here, performing in 1986 a month before the release of their breakout Look What the Cat Dragged In) led Poison to sell more than 10 million albums.
"The fact that I'm still good friends with the guys in Poison, and we still go out and play in the summertime is great," Michaels said earlier this year about his mates (from left) C.C. DeVille, Ricki Rockett and Bobby Dall. The band is planning a 25th anniversary tour for next summer.
Now Michaels is a devoted dad to Raine, 9, and Jorja, 5 (with girlfriend Kristi Gibson). When he suffered the hemorrhage, the rocker – who has struggled with diabetes – tells PEOPLE he was "sad thinking of my daughters growing up without me," adding, "you focus on what becomes really important."
"I love that they're free spirits," the musician, here with his children at their Arizona home, told PEOPLE. "And both of them can sing and play really well; they take piano and guitar lessons. It rocks." It was Michaels's devotion to family that kept the rocker alive, according to Dr. Joseph Zabramski. "He did not want his family to wake up and see him lying unconscious in the middle of the floor."
THE ROCK BACHELOR
The often booze-fueled shenanigans on Michaels's Rock of Love turned the VH1 dating show into a ratings bonanza. "Tequila makes your clothes fall off," he joked. He later admitted to PEOPLE, "I would never invite 25 women over in real life. [Hugh] Hefner can be the king. I do well in one-on-one relationships."
Currently a contestant on NBC's Celebrity Apprentice, Michaels has outlasted baseball star Darryl Strawberry (left), disgraced politician Rod Blagojevich and model Selita Ebanks. "Me and Donald Trump, we keep different hours," Michaels joked to PEOPLE. Punctuality aside, Trump says the rocker "has a great sense of business. He's very astute."
Michaels – who duets with Miley Cyrus on his latest single "Nothing to Lose," for his seventh solo album, Custom Built – says working with the tween queen has made him a true star in the eyes of his daughters ("Raine wrote her book report on Miley," he told PEOPLE). And that made it all worthwhile: "My daughters are my true loves and they always will be," says Michaels, who will soon return home to his little rocks of love.