Episode 9

History and Rock and Roll: visiting Bret Michaels' Hometown

Best known as the lead singer of the 80's hair band, Poison, Bret Michaels had a big impact on Jenn's life. We took an opportunity to do something a little different and film a Walk With History video from his hometown of Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania!

Walking through small town Pennsylvania was that much more fun as we explored where he grew up, went to high school, played, and eventually put his father to rest.

Bret Michaels Hometown Tour (video)

Walk with History & Talk with History

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Transcript
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greetings and welcome to the talk with

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History Podcast I am your host Scott

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here with my wife and historian Jen

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hello on this podcast we talk about

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history's continuing impact on us and

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our personal journey through YouTube as

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we continue to explore record and share

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our history locks with you

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real quick before we get into our main

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topic I want to lead off with our

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five-star question of the week

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and we're still looking for iTunes

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reviews out there we're a couple

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episodes ahead haven't gotten quite any

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uh five star reviews although there was

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a couple there was two nice ones left on

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there by myself and bye

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so if you want to have a question

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answered on this podcast I will do my

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best to answer it if you leave us a

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review on iTunes so please leave us a

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review it helps the show grow and share

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this podcast

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[Music]

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now the 1980s was full of big hair neon

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clothes loud bands and louder rock and

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roll

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the band Poison helped Define the crazy

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culture around those 1980s hair bands

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and it had multiple big hits

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but did you know that the lead singer of

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poison was from a small town not far

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from Jen's hometown of Pittsburgh

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Pennsylvania

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it's no wonder that my wife has always

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had a childhood crush on the man that

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sang for poison

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and he came from a small town called

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Mechanicsburg PA so Jen why don't you

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tell us about who we are talking about

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today so we are going to talk about

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um Brett Michael's side check and you

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would know him just as Brett Michaels

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and I have always when it comes down to

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the 80s hair bands that I love poison is

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number one and because Brett Michaels is

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there you know their front man he's

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never one but did you even know who

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Brett Michaels was I I had zero clue who

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Brett Michaels was and now I have seen

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Brett Michaels in concert in person at

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least three times yes yes we actually

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saw him like third row in San Diego yeah

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that was pretty good the last time we

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saw him at his tiny little uh Casino

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somewhere in Mississippi yeah that was

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not very good he's he's getting a little

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long on the tooth yeah he was like

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coughing foreign

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because you know the audience his

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audience he knows his demographic so

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he's got to turn the music up a little

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bit louder but uh no I had no clue who

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Brett Michaels was so why don't you tell

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us who he was so he was just a small

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town Pennsylvania boy so

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I

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I am from Pittsburgh and Brett Michaels

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was born in Butler Pennsylvania which is

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closer to Pittsburgh but it's when he's

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five or six years old that his family

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moves to Mechanicsburg and Mechanicsburg

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is a little bit farther away from

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Pittsburgh it's more towards Harrisburg

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and Mechanicsburg it's a little bit

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better a little bit bigger city right

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yeah and it's it's some it's on the

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other side of the state so it's closer

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to

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Gettysburg the Eastern side of

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Pennsylvania where Pittsburgh is the

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western side of Pennsylvania so he's

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moving Eastern and uh and he moved there

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because his dad was in the Army Navy

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Navy okay

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oh there we go I I like Brett Michaels

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just a little bit more now

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so and so that is where he's living when

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he gets diagnosed with diabetes

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they take him to Harrisburg they take

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him to the hospital there he's sick at

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six years old and they can't figure out

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why he takes them to the hospitals in

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three weeks he's there and he gets

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diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and if

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you know anything about Michael's he

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he's pretty open about that yeah

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and so he that's where he grows up and

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he's just I just take him as a Small

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Town Pennsylvania guy I love sports

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loves the Steelers loves to hunt loves

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all those kind of Pennsylvania things

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and he gets a band together now we in

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the video

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we go to his house on Hemlock Drive

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which is easy to find the address yeah

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we've so we we drove to Mechanicsburg on

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our way back from Washington DC yes

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that's right and

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we give a little history about

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Mechanicsburg like why is it called

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Mechanicsburg that was actually really

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interesting can you remind the Conestoga

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wagons when they would travel West

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remind me what the Conestoga wagons were

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again you know when people would the

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wagons like when people would travel

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west across America to go Homestead okay

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so like back when people were actually

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discovering them yeah old wagons with

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Wagon Wheels Mechanicsburg is usually

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the place people would stop to get

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things fixed yep that's where the

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mechanics were yeah I thought that was

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so interesting because it makes so much

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sense yeah oh yeah that makes a ton of

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sense yeah very basic

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um but we go to his home where he grew

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up he was there from the age of six to

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the age of 17. so from

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1969 to 1981 because he's born in 1963

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March 15th 1963. so he does most of his

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high school there and everything and he

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doesn't live there now there's nobody

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connected to him there now but that that

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house faced a fire that's right so it

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was kind of rebuilt

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um since he's lived there but we just

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kind of stood outside there and yeah we

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found his house we found his old high

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school yeah so we go to his high school

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so he went to Mechanicsburg Area High

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School

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and he graduated he's class of 1981. and

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it's at that time he puts together a

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band and it's called Paris that's right

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and he gets some guys from high school

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um Ricky rocket and Bobby doll so now

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where were they from Mechanicsburg as

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well yeah that area yeah they were from

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the general area and then another guy

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too who eventually will leave

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to come back to Mechanicsburg from LA

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and that's when CC

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will step in okay and so they they he

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was a guitarist the guitarist where they

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have this huge it's one of those things

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that it's where the two people can't get

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along but they make magic together right

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so I think it's that

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drama that you know that anxiety that

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you feel with each other can be like

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amazing and can also be

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terrifying it's like riding a wild horse

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you just kind of like hang it on while

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you're hanging on it's like man that's

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incredible yes until someone gets [ __ ]

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off yeah and then it can be toxic yeah

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um

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so and then it's so it's 1983 so they

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graduated high school 81.

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hanging around the area playing with

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their band Paris in 83 then they had

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they figure we need to go for it we're

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gonna go to La so this is 84. yeah so

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this is like classic yeah 80s movie want

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to start a rock band make it big this is

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classic story this is like 100

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80s like hey I'm from nowhere

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Pennsylvania I got my band we're going

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to Hollywood we're gonna make it big

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we're living in the van we're going to

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the Sunset Strip and we're going to play

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these places and we're going to hope

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that we make it big and they do right

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and I so that's their guitar sleeves

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because he wants to go back to

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Mechanicsburg be with his girlfriend I

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think and then that's when CeCe steps in

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and becomes the guitarist and they just

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make it you know they start yeah and not

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only is their their music big and loud

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of the time and really good but they

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kind of have this a little bit of the

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Stick of like really kind of prettying

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themselves up like really that almost

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metrosexual oh so much you know so my my

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one of my earliest memories is seeing

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the cover of look what the Cat Dragged

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In and if you ever saw that cover it's

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the four of them but so androgynous

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right you can't tell if it's a man or a

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woman and I just I must have been like

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seven or eight like looking at this

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cover and I couldn't tell I knew they

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were guys because I heard their music

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but I'm looking at this cover going is

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is that is that a guy or is there

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wearing makeup they're all the stuff and

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Brett Michael's like and honestly like

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Brett Michaels kind of came up with like

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the pouty face look like that duck face

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that little like it was go okay look him

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up right some of his most famous

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pictures has that little pouty lips

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things that like women do today like

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that like he kind of came up with he did

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he totally does it

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um

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so we go we go to his house we go to the

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high school and then we end up going to

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like the park where he would do with the

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community park where the pool was where

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the high school football field was

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because before they had a high school

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football field at their high school they

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actually played at that Park so we go to

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that Park so those are the places we go

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in Mechanicsburg and talk about him but

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just

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the thing that I like about Brett

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Michael so yes we've seen him a lot I've

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seen him in San Diego I've seen him in

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Pittsburgh I've seen him in Mississippi

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with you and then I saw him in Memphis

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at Graceland that's right and I went by

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myself remember and I had met some great

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people there and I actually got to meet

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Brett Michaels and he actually brought

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me on stage for Something to Believe In

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because I'm a veteran I'm a Navy veteran

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yeah that's like kind of what that

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song's about yes and he loves veterans

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he loves the military and he was the

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nicest guy like

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you you can you know you imagine people

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are but he really is genuine nice cared

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about what I had to say was interested

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like listening to me talk like wasn't

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looking like he was done I needed to go

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somewhere like really was the nicest guy

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and even with the first time I really

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got a true introduction to Brett

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Michaels was when he was on Rock of Love

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Yes 2007 2000 we just got married we had

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just been married and so we just started

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watching the show like that we actually

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watched that show pretty ridiculous if I

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wasn't married Scott I'd totally be on

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yeah so he's on the show and he's like

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typical single like you know kind of

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still sort of a rock star kind of pass

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past that

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um you know and again that was early on

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with shows like that right there wasn't

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hadn't been too many shows no like kind

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of like a bachelor kind of show but it

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hadn't really been done but so he's a

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genuine guy and you can even see it on

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that show like he is in interested he

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likes women oh for sure he doesn't make

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that no he he's there's no bones about

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it yeah he was there for the pretty

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girls he likes women and he likes all

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women and he's very like equal

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opportunity women like her and he is

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open to talking to all of them and

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giving them all his time and he doesn't

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seem to like discriminate against any

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type of woman so it's no not at all he

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seems totally like chill about that he's

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done a lot of like he did cribs so if

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you watch his cribs okay I don't think I

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saw that he totally is again seems

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completely chill and he won Celebrity

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Apprentice that's right in 2010 with

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with then just Donald Trump yeah he got

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it that's right all the celebrities oh

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my gosh again I think that genuine

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goodness that he's just a good guy comes

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out yeah and he he won that whole show

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oh I forgot about that yeah so now Jenna

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I have to ask you something

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[Music]

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do you remember kind of my initial

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introduction to 80s music

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through you this is the CDs I bought you

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yes so for those who who are listening

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who aren't familiar with Jen and I right

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so she's she's a couple years older than

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me and so so she introduced me to 80s

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music and she gave me a couple CDs and

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one of them was Chicago

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I don't even remember six sticks and

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classic so so like of the time right

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when we first started dating right there

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nobody really had like iPods or anything

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like that yet and so we had CDs and so

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she was so she circled Hey listen to

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these songs these are the classic sticks

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ones these this is you gave me a couple

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CDs yeah so I'm driving up to see from

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San Diego

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up to Sea to visit my mom I think up in

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the LA area my mom or dad or something

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like that

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and I start playing sticks and you get

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one of the ones you circled was babe

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it's like this so it's the second song

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on the CD so first of all you picked

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that CD first and it's the second song

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on the scene and I don't I don't know

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any of these bands yes none whatsoever

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and so babe it's it's a it's a kind of

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power ballad love song yeah I mean it is

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styx's song right that song it sticks

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this thing it's a great song now that I

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know it but at the time we were

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relatively newly dating we had been

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dating for a month and this was

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Christmas I had gotten you these CDs for

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Christmas she had gotten me these CDs

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and said listen to them

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and so I'm driving down the 10 freeway

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I'm driving on the 10 West

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had this had this had the CD in I'm

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driving in my 1998 Pathfinder right I'm

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driving down the 10 West and if you know

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the lyrics and if you know the lyrics of

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babe and it's like babe I love you

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whatever whatever and so I'm hearing

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these lyrics and I freak out and I freak

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out and I'm like oh my God and here I am

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22 23 years old just dating you for a

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month and she I was like she's giving me

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love songs so I freak out so I take all

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two or three CDs and I literally throw

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them out of my window on the 10 freeway

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and I was just like I I panicked I had a

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little panic attack I got you journey I

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think I forget what other ones I think I

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got you meatloaf yeah I don't remember

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what you got me because they are dust

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somewhere on the 10 feet you're so funny

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so I think you called me and you had

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said something like that and I was like

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what and you were like yeah that stick

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song

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babe I'm like babe yeah it's a great

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song and you're like you know the lyrics

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and like yeah you know it's a love

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ballad it's one of those 80s love

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ballads and he's like I just didn't know

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will you try to say that to me and I was

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like no yeah I did not understand the

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music or the times or anything I was I

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was quite young and naive yeah I was

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funny um so that was my introduction

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really to to 80s music and then

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eventually we listened to it together

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more and I found the I found bands like

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poison and white snake and you loved

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Whitesnake and like so I found those

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like a little bit harder I wasn't as

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much as a power power Bella guy

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but this video was so much fun because

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it really honestly wasn't

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really for the history we did it just

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because we wanted to do it and that's

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and that's part of the fun of doing

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YouTube and doing these videos and if

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you're listening to this for some of our

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what we're learning through YouTube

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sometimes you just have to make a video

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that might be close right we we touched

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on some history Mechanicsburg right his

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life and his life and we even joked like

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hey we hesitate to call this history but

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here we are in the hometown of our

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favorite you have someone that you love

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like a band that you love that you're

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you always wonder where they started

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right where they

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you know all come together and that's

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kind of historic I mean you can think

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about big bands I mean the poison is by

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no means like a huge influencer like the

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Beatles or something but people want to

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know how those people come together and

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even Beatles songs right people will

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find out where

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those names come from and sure I mean

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it's a little bit of like VH on VH1 like

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Behind the Music yes it was a much it

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was very much like Behind the Music we

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were kind of doing Behind the Music and

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so when we go to the park

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Brett's father had recently passed away

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Wally psycheck I mean literally just

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like a year prior so he passed away the

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same month and year as my dad yeah and

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um

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and you can find these things online you

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can find what his father is buried you

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can and I didn't want to go there but

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you can and so I actually put the flags

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and his father was in the Navy so

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important to us and he did the same

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thing for his father's wake that I did

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told everyone to wear Steelers gear

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right and we did the same thing for my

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dad so I just felt this kind of

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connection so we brought some flags and

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put them in the Park yeah we didn't want

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to go to the Grave yeah we just didn't

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think that was appropriate

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um and his family still lives close by

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they live in Camp Hill which is close to

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Mechanicsburg so his mom and his stepdad

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they still live close by and he visits

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like all the time if you follow him on

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Facebook or Instagram like he goes to

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his mom's house a lot because he visited

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Sarah's grave a lot

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um

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but yeah I mean I followed him so much

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like so he Brett has kind of dabbled in

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things and he dabbled in movies and he

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made this movie called A letter from

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death row and I like own it don't you

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have like the poster of it or something

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I have I have the movie you have the DVD

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I have the DVD that's right and I have

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the DVD of all the poison videos this

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movie is terrible and it's funny because

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he's really good friends with Charlie

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Shane like they would party together so

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Charlie Sheen is in the movie and he's

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good but somehow they got Martin Sheen

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to be in it too

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and he plays Brett's dad and that's like

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the only good scene in the whole movie

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is where Charlie Martin Sheen said I'm

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like oh you can tell who the real actor

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are and um

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and but his wife is in it or his

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long-term girlfriend Christy is in it

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and that's also the mother of his

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daughters

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so when we saw him in San Diego I

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remember he brought his daughters out on

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stage they were yeah and then when I saw

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him again in Memphis his daughter she

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goes to I think Vanderbilt oh wow so she

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was there okay so I feel like I've grown

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up with Brett Michaels like you have

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yeah

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[Music]

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you've even made some friends that are

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kind of like Michael's groupies oh I've

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met some groupies and we still are in

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touch yeah and we still can't wait to go

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to another country that just cracked me

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up and uh but he's done a lot of stuff

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with the military I just really

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appreciate him and so I

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I like to just put the word out about

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him like don't forget him but I I know

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after you saw him in Mississippi I'm on

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my own now you are on your own if you

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ever want to go see Brett Michaels live

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unless he wants to do like something at

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a small bar that's more acoustic or

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something but you were you were on your

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own so yeah this was just a fun one to

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do because we drove around kind of a

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small town in Pennsylvania it was on the

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way back and it honestly was just kind

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of fun to do yeah we let the kids have a

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break yep right they ran around that

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Park and played on the playground and so

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we were able to film around yeah we

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celebrate Michael's like favorite pizza

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shop and you know we just it was it was

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very neat and so Brett Michaels so he

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started in a small town but he dreamed

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big and brought his dreams to life on

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the world stage that was the rock and

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roll of the 1980s and not only did he

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eventually capture Jen's heart

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but he continues to capture the heart of

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his fans and us through his support of

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the military his hometown ethics Steeler

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fandom and yes every time we hear him

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sing Every Rose Has Its Thorn we think

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of him and the man poison so thank you

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for listening to the talk with History

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Podcast today please reach out to us at

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our website talk with history.com that's

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talk with history.com but more

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importantly if you know someone that

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might enjoy this podcast particularly if

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they are Brett Michaels fan or a fan of

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1980s hair band music please share this

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tell them and look up the talk with

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appreciate you all every day we'll talk

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to you next time thank you

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Talk With History
A Historian and Navy Veteran talk about history inspired travels, their YouTube channel journey, and examine history through conversations with the curious, the explorers, and the history lovers out there

About your host

Profile picture for Scott Bennie

Scott Bennie

Host of the Talk With History podcast, Producer over at Walk with History on YouTube, Editor of the Hashtag Historic newsletter.