Bret Michaels came to the Douglas County Fair on Thursday to raise the community’s spirits along with his own, as he celebrated his father, who passed away Sunday. Michaels also dedicated the show to first responders, veterans and community heroes like teachers.
He canceled shows the Friday and Saturday before his father died, but came to the Cascade Community Credit Union Amphitheater in his iconic red headband and put on a show for the 4,000 people who came Thursday night.
“It is good to be in Roseburg tonight,” Michaels said. “I’ve got to tell you, I need to be here tonight. We need a good time tonight. I’ve got to tell you, I can’t thank you enough. I want to dedicate this show, this week I want to dedicate, this is a celebration of life for my father. We are going to make him a party tonight.”
Before Michaels even made an appearance, the crowd got to their feet and started rocking out to the speakers when “Thunderstruck” by AC/DC played.
Michaels started with some “old school Poison,” the band for which he is famous for being the lead singer. He reached down and shook hands with the fans at the front of the stage while singing “Talk Dirty To Me.”
Tina Twarowski was dancing in her usual spot in the back of the blanket section. She and her family have been coming to every concert and parking their blanket in the same spot for more than 20 years.
“All of my friends know where to find me,” Twarowski said. “We love that they bring in good names and good people. I just like that it’s for families.”
Her husband, Konrad Twarowski, saw Michaels in February at Seven Feathers.
“This guy rocks,” he said. “He’s amazing. He represents a good time in rock.”
Fair Director Dan Hults said the crowd was about the same for Michaels as Collective Soul’s show on Wednesday. Michaels didn’t sell as many reserved seats, but still brought out a crowd.
“He’s a good showman,” Hults said. “It’s a whole different class of rock music. People seem to be enjoying themselves.”
It’s been more than a decade since Michaels came to the fairgrounds with Poison. Nicole Handel from Roseburg remembers coming to the show and made it a point to lay out a blanket for the performance after a full day of ushering daycare children around the fair.
“I grew up on this music,” Handel said. “We thought we’d come out and have a good time with Bret Michaels. It’s a good concert. Something fun to do in the community. I thought it was the best one of the lineup.”
Riley Williams is growing up on Bret Michaels, too. At just 6 years old, she was rocking out, kicking and fist-pumping to “Talk Dirty To Me.”
She said she loves Bret Michael’s “because music, dude.” Then she jumped around some more.
She came with her mom and grandpa, Michelle and Donald Williams.
“He’s ‘80s hair metal personified,” Michelle Williams said. “(Riley) said, ‘I don’t like his hair, but his face is handsome.’ I remember when they did the reality show for him in high school. I learned very quickly who he was.”
Donald Williams came all the way from Virginia to see his daughter, granddaughter and Bret Michaels.
“We’re having a great time,” he said.
Michaels closed with a cover of KISS’s “Rock & Roll All Nite.” He still tours with Poison in addition to his solo tours.