Since news broke Tuesday morning that Loretta Lynn, the pioneering country singer, died at her home in Tennessee at age 90, some of Nashville’s biggest stars, from Dolly Parton to Carrie Underwood, have been paying her tribute. But the remembrance that caught our eye was from the guy who once sang “Unskinny Bop.” “My heart is beyond heavy today,” Bret Michaels of Poison posted on Facebook.
When we called up Michaels, he revealed that he had just been with Lynn at her ranch in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee — singing Poison’s monster ballad “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” to her a few weeks before she died.
“She was sitting there in a blanket and we started talking. She said, ‘Let’s do a song together. I wrote one that’s gonna be called ‘Good Good Times.’ She sang, ‘good good times and good good love/It comes from above.’ And then we sang a little bit of ‘Every Rose,’” Michaels says, pausing to collect himself. “We both knew she wasn’t feeling well. I wish I could tell you… both of us are kind of empathic, and you know when you just know?”
Michaels, who recently wrapped the massive, nostalgic Stadium Tour with Def Leppard and Mötley Crüe, has been a frequent visitor to Lynn’s ranch, bringing along his dirt bikes and ATVs to race on Lynn’s track. The first time there, he says Lynn handed him a guitar and said, “Let’s hear you strum. I love ‘Every Rose.’” The request turned into a group singalong that made its way into Lynn’s home studio.
“Next thing you know we were in her beautiful studio and her whole family came in and we were singing ‘Every Rose Has Its Thorn,’” says Michaels, who ultimately recorded a duet version of Poison’s 1988 hit with Lynn. “Joe Perry of Aerosmith said, ‘I’d love to play on it,’ and then Hugh McDonald of Bon Jovi played bass on it.”
Michaels admits he’s not the most likely of Lynn disciples to pay her tribute today, but he considers the Country Music Hall of Fame member a friend.
“It was important for me having daughters to tell her what a big influence she was in breaking open an industry that was a little tough. She was such an influence on my kids,” Michaels says. “She did it her way. I want to make sure the world knows that: she did it her way.