Pete Evick – The Guitar Player Legends Call On

A veteran of bands for over 30 years, and the longtime guitarist, and bandleader of Bret Michaels Band, no matter how often Pete Evick plays to a packed house, he says it’s special every time.

“When you play ‘Every Rose Has Its Thorn,’ or ‘Nothin’ but a Good Time,’ and see those fans screaming, or when (Bret) plays ‘Something to Believe In,’ and he has them light the lighters, and you see an entire arena … it’s the greatest job in the world watching those people remember that music, and it makes their day better. There’s nothing better than that.”

When the arena lights come on, and everybody goes home, Evick still wants to play. This is why even though he’s worked with a veritable who’s who of artists – including Mark McGrath, Dee Snider, and Sammy Hagar – you might find the Manassas, Virginia native playing a local acoustic gig.

“I really enjoy my acoustic things,” he says, “I do a lot of local acoustic gigs with my drummer, Chuck (Fanslau), and as of the last year me and the drummer from Faster Pussycat, Chad Stewart, have put together a touring version of that acoustic act called The Ultimate Acoustic Rock Show. I enjoy doing that so much right now. We do this ‘80s rock acoustic thing, but they’re songs you wouldn’t think would be played acoustic. We have a lot of fun with that.”

Also an author, earlier this year Evick released his second book, titled MTV Famous, and it’s filled with stories from his over three decade long career.

“I just like to share,” he says, “I like stories, and I like to share stories, as long as it’s positive, or inspirational.”

I caught up with Evick, and he shared some of those stories of working with musical legends, as well as his definition of “MTV famous,” what lit the flame in him to launch a candle company, and the wild ride that was Rock of Love.

Let’s kick things off with a little bit of history. When, and how did you link up with Bret Michaels? 

I’ve been in Bret’s band for 20 years. The two years before that, my band, Evick, was his opening act on a lot of his East coast dates with his solo band at the time.

There’s a lot of lore to the story over 20 years, but basically every year he kinda used a different band, and the third year going out a quick gig came up that I think some people weren’t able to do. He asked if my band could do the gig, because he knew that we were giant Poison fans, and giant fans of his. We met him in Detroit at the Downtown Hoedown, we played as his band, and then here I am 20 years later.

What’s been the most rewarding aspect of being in the band? 

There are so many rewards to it. I wouldn’t know how to answer what the most rewarding part is, other than probably my friendship with Bret. He’s become my best friend, and there’s so much other than music that we do together, and that’s a great reward if you ask me.

Also, making the other friends I’ve made along the way. I often text back and forth with Ace Frehley, Dee Snider, all the members of Firehouse, Warrant, Trixter, Slaughter. I became friend with all my heroes, and what a great reward.

You also have a lot of production credits, and have worked with a litany of well known artists, including Mark McGrath, Dee Snider, and Sammy Hagar. Which artist personality types do you enjoy working with the most? 

With Mark, and Dee, and Sammy, and Steve Augeri from Journey, all of those guys, I was the music director for different versions of live things we’d done.

All of them are wonderful for different reasons.

Dee has an enormous amount of energy, and he’s as kind as can be, but when there’s a time to be serious there’s no beating around the bush with him. He knows exactly what he wants, and I appreciate the no bullshit level.

Mark is probably one of the sweetest guys you will ever meet. You instantly feel like he’s your best friend. He’s so easy to work with. Me and him communicate incredibly well with what he wants when he’s part of the set.

Steve is an incredible singer, and an incredibly humble guy for everything he’s gotten to do.

And Sammy … Sammy’s just great. Hagar’s great. He’s my favorite singer. I love the Van Halen Hagar era more than anything in the world. I think that the few times I’ve gotten to do things with Sammy I’m so excited that I’m there playing that I don’t even think about what’s happening. The child in me is still alive and well when it’s Hagar.

Bret, Bret’s my best friend. He’s a workhorse. He works hard, he plays hard, and he’s an incredible inspiration to anything that I’ve ever gotten to do, and how I handle myself.

So they’re all great, and different, in their own ways.

Moving to your work as a writer, your latest book is titled MTV Famous. You have a unique definition of “MTV Famous” that I think it might surprise a lot of people. We aren’t talkin’ about TRL here. What does “MTV Famous” mean to you? 

Thank you for asking that. I got some backlash when the book came out, because there were some people that thought the title meant that I was claiming that I was MTV famous. They’d be like, “Oh, he didn’t have a career before MTV was done.” It never occurred to me that was what people would think. It blew me away that that was what they were saying.

To me, MTV famous was – I grew up in the MTV era, and if I saw someone on MTV I thought they were a superstar. I thought Tommy Tutone, for example, was as rich and famous as Michael Jackson. They were all part of the same thing.

I was never chasing fame and fortune. I started playing guitar at five years old, and I was really hooked at an early age. Before I knew what money, or partying, or chicks were I was just in love with what I was seeing on MTV – the way it made me feel, and the visuals with the bands, like with (John Mellencamp’s) “Pink Houses” video I got to see what the heartland of America looked like, (and) “If This Is It,” for Huey Lewis, showed me the beaches out in California that I’d never seen. It excited me, and it inspired me, and it made me happy. I wanted to do that.

To me it was just a culture, and the music I loved … and I just wanted to be a part of that world. I wanted to write a song that made somebody as happy as Quiet Riot songs made me, or Van Halen songs, or Bon Jovi songs, or Poison songs. That was what it was to me. I had no idea that Tommy Tutone was still working at a gas station. You just didn’t know it.

Why’d you want to tell this story now? 

I’d written my first book, and it was not about the music industry. It was an inspirational book called The Moments That Make Us that originally was written to be a book about single parenthood, and how being in the music business, and raising my kids was gonna be a challenge. As I was writing it I started backtracking moments in history that put me on my path. As I was turing in chapters my publisher said, “This isn’t a book about fatherhood, this is much bigger than that. It’s inspiration to anybody to just live their life, and take what’s thrown at them and use it positively.”

It was so rewarding to write that book, and have people tell me that it meant something to them, and inspired them, that I always wanted to write a second book.

There were several people that wanted (me to write about) music stuff, that’s what you expect, so another publishing company came to me, Steve Olivas, and his company (JRNYman Publishing). He’s also an author, and he asked if I wanted to write a second book. We worked on it as a team. I wanted to keep the element of inspirational stories, but also tie in the debauchery of rock n roll, and my tale, and I think I did that, because there’s been several people that have written that any young musician that has any questions about the music business should read it.

You also have Shining Sol Candle Company. Which aspects, if any, of working in the music industry carry over to that business? 

In research I realized that the candle industry is a multi-billion industry in the U.S. alone, led by Yankee Candle, and Bath & Body Works, however there’s no discernible logo in either company. They have logos, but they don’t stand out, (and) there’s no marketing. You never see a candle commercial. It is almost a word of mouth business that does billions of dollars.

I thought to myself – 30-some years in the music industry, let me take everything I learned from Gene Simmons, not personally, and everything I learned personally from Bret Michaels, two great brand guys, they’ve created brands out of who they are, and let me see if I can apply that to something that’s not in the music industry, because if you can make it in the music industry, you can make it anywhere.

Take the KISS logo, there’s a million people on this planet that probably have a KISS t-shirt that don’t even like KISS, or haven’t even heard KISS. The same thing with Nike, and the same thing with Chevy. The candle industry didn’t have that, so part of my drive was to see if I could apply a logo, a branding that stuck in pop culture, so to speak, so that you may have that logo on some merchandise, and not even own one of my candles. That was the sun design that we’ve had for ten years.

There are 25 to 30 people that have that sun actually tattooed on their body. I can guarantee you there aren’t 25 people in this world that have Yankee Candle tattooed on their body.

So it was a neat test in applying everything about the music industry, and how to market. I took the KISS model, and applied it to a different business.

Moving to something totally random, you’re credited as being in Sharknado 5. Was this a dream come true? It would be for a lot of us! 

Bret was in Sharknado, and that scene, that’s my guitar, that big riff when he gets hit by the bus.

My guitar is me, so I am in Sharknado.

McGrath has been in all of those Sharknado movies, and he’s a wonderful friend of mine, and to have my name associated with Sharknado in any way makes me way cooler than I was before that.

Finally, is there any way you could convince Bret to do another season of Rock of Love? 


Rock of Love changed a lot of things for a lot of people. It brought Bret to Elvis status there.

The average age of his fan base must have dipped significantly when it aired. 

I talk about that in book. I have a whole section about how Dokken was opening for Poison on a tour when that show aired, and like three days after the show aired you saw a significant age change in the people going to the shows. It freaked Don Dokken out, because Don is older than all those guys anyway, he’s been doing this since the ‘70s, and all of a sudden he was playing to 18 year olds that didn’t have any clue who he was. It tripped Don out a little bit, but it was great for Bret, and for Poison, and for our solo band.

That first year of Rock of Love I made more money than I’d ever made in my life.

I wrote the theme song with Bret, the theme song became the #1 video for 14 weeks on VH1’s countdown, it was used in Guitar Hero 3, which was the biggest selling version of that game, and it was used in the Miss America pageant.

Rock of Love took everybody involved to new levels. 

I’m guessing that’s not something you imagined happening when the show started. 

None of us knew what to think.

I took Bret to the house on day one. I was the one that dropped him off at the house. I came in before they started filming, and I met some of the girls, and I remember leaving, and by that time me and Bret had developed a really strong friendship, and I remember thinking – what did I just leave my friend to do? {laughs}

There had been Flavor of Love, and The Bachelor, but when Bret was approached to do it he demanded to have certain creative control that other people had never asked for, so he steered that show in a completely different direction than it was ever supposed to go. Instead of the comic relief, like Flavor Flav was for the whole thing, Bret made himself more like a host, and the girls were really the stars of the show, and other than the drunkenness, or the partying, it never really made fools out of anybody. It was still a trainwreck, it was still so much fun, but it was in a much brighter light, other than some of the fights. 

It was great, but here’s the truth of the matter – I don’t ever try to speak for Bret, but I would say is Bret is the most humble guy you will ever meet. He wakes up every day, and sometimes I’ll laugh, he’ll say things like, “Yeah, if we can just get this song to hit, we’ll make it.” I’m like what are you fucking talking about?

FINALLY, we’ll make it! 

Yeah. That’s how humble he is with all this stuff, but he’s aware.

He’s been on the cover of Playgirl, he’s been on the cover of GQ, he’s been voted the sexiest man alive over the course of 25 years multiple times in different magazines … so when they came to him about season four of Rock of Love, I think it was kinda starting to look a little goofy that a guy that’s been the sexiest man alive can’t get a date, and needs a TV show for it.

One of the girls from Rock of Love was just recently on MTV’s Catfish because someone had been using her pictures to catfish someone. 

Aw man.

The crazy thing was, when Nev and Kamie were looking at the photos, Kamie was like, “I recognize that girl. I think she was on Rock of Love,” so all these year later it’s still remembered. 

Yeah, they still run all three seasons of Rock of Love on Valentine’s Day every year on VH1, I think. Now they might just do it on Paramount+, but yeah, the cultural impact that made was pretty heavy.

For more Pete Evick, check out, and follow him on Facebook, and Instagram.