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Love & Poison

South Boston News
Robbie Love, county planning and zoning administrator, last fall won Bret Michaels’ guitar at an auction for Michaels’ charitable foundation. Friday, he went back to party with the Poison lead singer again.
SoVaNow.com / May 06, 2013
You may know Robbie Love as the guy to see to get a permit for your auto repair shop or beauty shop.

But come the weekend, Love likes to rock out. He’s been to 300 or 400 concerts, from Tim McGraw to B.B. King to Metallica. He sat in front of comedian Will Ferrell once, and he’s met some famous musicians.

“But my best story is Bret Michaels,” says Halifax County’s planning and zoning administrator.

It has two parts, and this is how that story goes:

Last fall, about the time of his birthday, Love treated himself to a Bret Michaels concert at Phase II (formerly Cattle Annie’s) in Lynchburg. Michaels still tours with Poison, a glam-metal band, he penned its biggest hit, “Every Rose Has Its Thorn,” and he’s a staple of reality TV.

After every concert, Michaels auctions off things — including things he’s used onstage — to support his Life Rocks Foundation, which works to benefit charities that support Type I diabetes, which Michaels has suffered from since he was a child (The foundation also supports charities for cancer, the military and pets.) Love was the high bidder for Michael’s acoustic guitar — a fancy black number with flames painted on it — “Real pretty,” Love says.

With the purchase, to his surprise, Love earned the right to an autograph and an invitation to party on Michaels’ tour bus.

Michaels was friendly, down to earth, humble, and appreciative of Love’s donation — not like some other big names Love has met.

Love was told to stay in touch and he’d be “taken care of” the next time Michaels was in town.

Talk about fan service.

Michaels went public about his diabetes after he passed out on stage some years ago; the rumor mill chalked it up to alcohol and drug abuse. That promoted Michaels to come out about his diabetes — he never denied drinking, but it was the diabetes to blame, he stressed.

He has since become a poster rocker for diabetes awareness — a passion that has only intensified since one of his young daughters was diagnosed with pre-diabetes.

“Diabetes Health” magazine says he checks his blood sugar up to a half-dozen times a day. He gives interviews about health and diet. He plays fund-raising concerts.

So part two of Love’s story:

Since last fall, Love has been trying to play the special guitar, and he’s learned that his wife, Sheri, a schoolteacher at Sinai Elementary, has diabetes in her family: two grandparents suffered mightily from its complications.

“[T]his cause is near and dear to our hearts,” he says.

He also found out that Michaels matches the money spent on auction items from his personal fortune.

Sure enough, after a phone call a few weeks back, Michaels’ guitarist caught up with Love: free tickets and an invitation to meet again. That concert was Friday night in Lynchburg. Love and his wife drove up — and were once again treated like old friends.

The guitarist inquired, “Was everything to your liking?” and Sheri Love was impressed with the sheer amount of time Michaels spent with them — “a real conversation,” Love says.

One of the musicians was handed cameras and cell phones for snapping photos — and Michaels always asked if the shots were good.

“I like all kinds of music … but I love what he does for his fans and his charity,” says Love.

Every artist and celebrity ought to be so giving, he thinks.

Love attributes Michaels’ pay-it-forward goodwill to his appreciation for being alive: In addition to living with diabetes, Michaels also underwent an emergency appendectomy in 2010, followed, days later, by a massive brain hemorrhage that could have killed him.

The Friday night show was great, raves Love, who thrilled to hear his hits, plus a cover of “Sweet Home Alabama.”

“They made us feel like stars ourselves. I’m truly blessed to be able to share this story,” Love says.

Next up for Michaels: His new television show, “Rock My RV with Bret Michaels” debuts later this month on the Travel Channel, and a new greatest-hits album — featuring appearances by stars like Loretta Lynn, Miley Cyrus, and some of the guys from Aerosmith and Lynyrd Skynyrd — is set for release in June.

Next up for Love: He’s got tickets to Jimmy Buffett in Virginia Beach — and he’s aiming, specifically, how to play “Every Rose Has its Thorn” on that smokin’ keepsake guitar.

A short video of Michaels’ Lynchburg show can be found at http://www.bretmichaels.com.

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Couldn't have happened to a nicer fellow. Rock on, Robbie!


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