Rocker Bret Michaels just capped off an incredible decade. Not only did he hit the road with successful tours and strengthen his dedication to philanthropy, but he also survived one of his most difficult health years to date in 2010 when he faced an emergency appendectomy, a brain hemorrhage and heart surgery.
“I dealt with a lot of health issues during that year, and by the grace of God and a lot of hard work and therapy, I’m still on the good side of the dirt and having a good time,” he told PEOPLE at the Fourth Annual Matthew Gavin’s Marquis New Year’s Eve celebration in Times Square on Tuesday.
Michaels, 56, who is a father to two daughters, came out the other side with a deeper sense of gratitude for his fans and his career, which has spanned multiple decades since he rose to fame as the frontman of Poison in the ‘80s. His experience as a Type 1 diabetic has also inspired him to raise funds and awareness for not only diabetic causes, but St. Jude Children’s Hospital, PetSmart charities and more.
“I’ve got to give my mom and dad credit because they were so instrumental in finding a diabetic youth camp for me when I was a kid. We couldn’t find one so they created one in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and that was the beginning of me learning how to be charitable. It’s not just about me wanting to give back, it absolutely makes me smile to be able to do it.”
Michaels was recently honored with the Humanitarian of the Year award at the 88th annual The Hollywood Christmas Parade for his recent efforts in the Bahamas, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian in September.
“I’m very honored,” he said. “Helping out down there was huge for me. They got wiped out during the hurricane, especially Puerto Rico, and the Bahamas still doesn’t have electricity. We’re going to go back down and put a whole bunch of music gear in the school we visited for all the kids.”
Up next for Michaels, who is on the road with his Unbroken Tour through mid-June, is the highly anticipated Stadium Tour alongside Def Leppard, Mötley Crüe and Joan Jett and The Blackhearts, which kicks off in July.
“I’ve been working on that for years, hoping we could put it together with everybody and it just worked,” he said. “It will be an absolute, all out, high energy party. I think people are excited for a live, good time summer party with great music.”
“I just want fans to know that I am completely grateful for all the great years — I’m a guy that’s about gratitude with a positive attitude,” he added. “We now have three or four generations of amazing fans and I’m thankful for every single one of them and all those great years that let me live out what I love to do, which is being on the road and playing music.”
And it won’t just be the fans who will be out there having a good time, Michaels insists his partying days aren’t behind him.
“I want fans to know I still love to party, I love to have a great time, but when everyone else gets to be hungover in the morning, I don’t get that opportunity, so even if I have a good time, I’m up, I check my blood sugar, take my insulin, eat and start working out so that I can maintain that longevity of continuing to play music and being a good dad.”
Before taking center stage at the Marquis New Year’s Eve party, which also featured pop star Tiffany (the theme of the night was nostalgia to close out the decade as both musicians sang their most memorable hits), Michaels added, “This year my resolution is to rock harder, play harder, have a great time, help as many people as I can through philanthropy and keep improving as a dad.”