He was the winning contestant on NBC's reality show Celebrity Apprentice 3 and also featured in his own reality Docu-series Bret Michaels: Life As I Know It, which inspired his highest charting album as a solo artist, Custom Built, reaching No. Michaels was born Bret Michael Sychak, to Wally and Marjorie Sychak, north of Pittsburgh in the city of Butler, Pennsylvania. He claims that his parents had originally intended for him to have the middle name "Maverick", after the title character in the popular James Garner TV Western series Maverick. At the age of seven he fell ill, and during a three-week stay in the hospital, he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. With drummer Rikki Rockett, bass player Bobby Dall and guitarist Matt Smith, he formed the band Paris, in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania in 1983.
After getting into a fistfight with Michaels, De Ville left the band, and descended further into addiction. In the mid 1990s, after a night of partying, Michaels came close to dying when he crashed his Ferrari into a telephone pole. Deville, Poison went on a successful greatest hits reunion tour.
That same year he met 16-year-old Tracy Lewis, who would become both his girlfriend, and the muse for one of his most memorable songs. De Ville, who would become both Michaels' friend and a source of conflict.
Eventually Matt Smith tired of the band's struggle to find fame, and returned home. Local publicity about the band eventually led to a record deal with Enigma Records, and their first album, Look What the Cat Dragged In.
The band has also charted ten singles to the Top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100, including six Top 10 singles and the number-one single, "Every Rose Has Its Thorn".
Besides his career as lead singer, he has several solo albums to his credit, including a soundtrack album to the movie A Letter from Death Row in which Michaels starred, wrote and directed in 1998, and a classic Poison-style rock album, Songs of Life, in 2003.