A Look Into The Life Of Michael Bolton

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Most people recognize Michael Bolton for hit love songs such as "When a Man Loves a Woman," "How Am I Supposed to Live Without You," and "How Can We Be Lovers." The pop-rock balladeer was massively popular in the late '80s and early '90s, especially among hopeless romantics. He has sold millions of records and also gained fans for cover tunes such as "(Sittin' On) the Dock of the Bay" and "Georgia on My Mind."

Bolton has collaborated with numerous artists over the years and has been involved in a few high-profile romantic relationships. But you may not know that he started his career singing a much different style of music. In addition, he has devoted a good chunk of his time to helping at-risk women and children through his charity work. We have the scoop on Michael Bolton's relationship status, how he felt after cutting his long hair in the late '90s, and other interesting facts below.

Michael Bolton reportedly auditioned for Black Sabbath

While Michael Bolton is known for his love songs, he didn't set out to be crooner. The singer initially recorded music under his birth name, Michael Bolotin, according to AllMusic. In the '70s, he recorded with RCA Records and sounded a little like Joe Cocker, who is known for his blues-style tunes. Then Bolton joined the heavy metal band Blackjack as the lead singer. The group produced two albums under the Polydor label before parting ways in the early '80s. When he decided to reinvent himself as a solo artist in 1983, he changed his name to Michael Bolton and sealed a deal with Columbia Records.

But before he made that leap, Bolton auditioned to be in Black Sabbath, according to guitarist Tony Iommi. When lead singer Ronnie James Dio left the group in 1982, the band was searching for a new vocalist. Iommi told NME: "So, there was a lot of looking for another singer, and we auditioned various singers — including Michael Bolton, believe it or not. He was one of them, which was an odd one." Bolton lost out to Deep Purple frontman Ian Gillan. Interestingly, he once denied auditioning for the band, telling Echo in 2014 it was just a rumor and that he had no idea how it started. You decide who to believe.

He had vocal cord surgery and feared losing his voice

During a 2013 interview with the Daily Mail, Michael Bolton talked about a variety of health topics, including a scary moment he experienced in the '90s. When he was in his early 40s, he learned that he had a benign nodule on one of his vocal cords. He discovered the problem after he had trouble singing a particularly high note, so he sought help from a medical professional. The problem was that the location of the nodule could potentially create some scar tissue that would adversely effect his voice. Fortunately, surgery was successful. However, Bolton noted that resting his voice for three months was "terrifying." He must have felt relieved when he was able to hit the high notes once he recovered.

In the same interview, Bolton opened up about tearing a knee ligament while skiing, which was a problem because he was part of a semi-pro baseball team at the time. He quit skiing after the injury. Bolton also noted that he had a hard time dealing with pain and that he saw a chiropractor regularly to stay in tip-top condition. And up until age 60, when he gave the interview, he'd never had any plastic surgery. However, he did say he was open to the possibility. 

He has worked with with tons of famous artists

In addition to singing his own songs, Michael Bolton has written and co-written music with many other artists over the years. For example, in 1990, he was asked to work with Bob Dylan. Bolton promptly cancelled appointments with songwriter Dianne Warren as well as Barry Mann and Cynthia Weill to work with Dylan because "anybody in their right mind would stop whatever they were doing and would have driven to Malibu," he told Rolling Stone. He was warned by Dylan's people that if the two didn't gel on their first day working together, then it would be over. But Bolton was determined to win him over because he had been "in awe" of the songwriter since he was a young boy. The pair ended up writing "Steel Bars," which became part of the top album of Bolton's career, 1991's "Time, Love & Tenderness."

In 2015, Bolton collaborated with Kid Cudi on the "Afterward (Bring Yo Friends)" track. "I had this record and I was like, 'Man, I want somebody who can, like, sing their... soul out,'" Kid Cudi told Young Hollywood. In Bolton's record "Gems: The Duets Collection," he worked with Rascal Flatts, Chris Botti, and Seal, among others. He told Parade: "You get to do these great things and sing with these great singers and perform this music you love — it's like ... Christmas or something." He's also written and performed with Patti LaBelle, Ray Charles, B.B. King, and Wynonna Judd.

His collaboration with Luciano Pavarotti prompted him to make an opera record

Working with Bob Dylan was a highlight of Michael Bolton's career, but he also liked singing with Ray Charles, he noted during an interview with the Jewish Virtual Library. Bolton counts Charles as one of the top vocal influencers of his career. However, his absolute favorite collaborator of all time was opera star Luciano Pavarotti. Bolton was so nervous when they sang together at their first rehearsal that his "knees were shaking." The experience was so incredible that it changed his life.

Bolton explained that he was entranced by Pavarotti's control and vocal range. It also made Bolton put his own training into perspective as he wondered if he'd done enough over the years to take his singing to another level. The collaboration made such an impression on Bolton that he decided to delve into opera. In 1998, he released "My Secret Passions: The Arias." The album wasn't terrible, but it wasn't too successful, either, according to AllMusic. Still, it was an opportunity for the singer to explore a different type of music that he was clearly passionate about.

He established The Michael Bolton Charities to help at-risk women and children

For nearly three decades, Michael Bolton has been involved with The Michael Bolton Charities, which helps women and children coping with domestic violence, poverty, trauma, and abuse. Bolton explains on his website that giving back to those who are less fortunate is simply the right thing to do, as is helping others who seek a better life.

The organization works with groups and programs that help women and children find safe environments and give them the tools they need to develop self-confidence so they can succeed. As a result of his work, Bolton has received numerous awards, including the Martin Luther King Award, the Lewis Hine Award, the Muhammed Ali Humanitarian Award, the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, and the Frances Preston Lifetime Achievement Award.

One of the group's programs is Beyond Trauma: Youth Music Therapy, which is geared toward young girls and boys based in Connecticut who have been subjected to domestic violence or trauma. The initiative is designed to repair these children's emotional states and prepare them for the future. The aim is to spread this program across the country to help even more children realize their potential despite going through difficult circumstances.

He's appeared in several films and TV shows and made a hilarious viral video

Michael Bolton is more than just a talented singer. He has also appeared in a variety of films and TV shows and isn't afraid to make fun of himself. In "Snow Dogs," for example, his face appears in front of Ted (Cuba Gooding, Jr.), and he offers some advice: "Ted, remember, no matter what color you are, you can still have soul. I mean, look at me." The vocalist has also appeared in the film "High Voltage" and the series "Two and a Half Men," as well as the viral video "Jack Sparrow" by The Lonely Island comedy act. The clip appeared on "Saturday Night Live" and was a massive hit with fans. Bolton told Entertainment Weekly of the experience, "You want to work with guys like this. But at the same time I get invitations to perform at the Vatican!" He added that he worried about the colorful language in the clip. 

Other shows and films he's appeared in include "Fresh Off the Boat," "Helt perfekt," and "Teen Titans GO! To the Movies." Bolton also released the children's book "Secret Of The Lost Kingdom" in 1997, which is highly rated on Amazon.

He's passionate about softball and played for charity

During the mid-'90s, when Michael Bolton was just coming off the peak of his career, he devoted a good chunk of his time to softball in order to raise money for charity, according to Baseball Prospectus. Bolton traveled around America and played games with his team, the Bolton Bombers, against local athletes. In just three years, he raised half a million dollars for a variety of organizations.

According to the Jewish Virtual Library, the Bolton Bombers even defeated Michael Jordan's team, Airforce, and Jordan himself presented the trophy to Bolton. In addition, baseball icon Joe DiMaggio frequently showed up to these fundraising games. At one point, DiMaggio appeared on the field and was greeted with a standing ovation, to which he jokingly remarked to Bolton, "Gee, Mike, they really like you here."

Bolton played third base for his team, which often went up against Teague's League, which was led by Green Bay Packers safety George Teague, in Wisconsin. At one point, the Bolton Bombers played against Barry Bond's Superstars, the world's top baseball players.

Michael Bolton said cutting his hair was 'traumatic'

Long-haired rockers were a staple of the '80s music scene, but Michael Bolton set himself apart by sporting long locks as an adult contemporary vocalist. Most of his brethren opted for shorter hairstyles while he bucked the trend by choosing to let his hair grow. Bolton spent a good portion of his early career with long locks before chopping them off in 1997.

During a 2013 interview with Yahoo, Bolton admitted that cutting his hair was "really traumatic." He added, "It was like a part of my childhood and my rebellion and everything I went through to wear long hair ... It became my look." He noted that as much as $50 to $100 million had been invested in marketing based on his appearance.

At the time, he was dating actress Ashley Judd, who was a little disappointed that he cut it. "I went back to the studio after I got the haircut ... I was definitely insecure about it, I felt kind of naked without it," he confessed. However, he also received a lot of compliments about it. Unfortunately, he and Judd broke up shortly afterward, and his subsequent albums "All That Matters," "My Secret Passion," and "Timeless: The Classics Vol. 2" failed to resonate with fans like his earlier work had. It's unclear whether the haircut was to blame.

He lost a bunch of money in a plagiarism lawsuit

As of 2020, Michael Bolton was worth $80 million largely due to his music career, according to Celebrity Net Worth. The vocalist has sold more than 75 million records, and during the '80s and early '90s, he topped the charts and was popular with critics. He also has two Grammy Awards. He reportedly earned $16 million for the 1989 album "Soul Provider" and $20 million for 1991's "Time, Love & Tenderness," according to the International Business Times. In 2008, he listed his Westport, Connecticut, estate for $11 million, but it's not clear if he actually sold the property.

Unfortunately, the Isley Brothers sued Bolton in 1992, claiming his song "Love is a Wonderful Thing" was stolen from them. A jury agreed that Bolton plagiarized the song, and he, his songwriter, and Sony Publishing were instructed to pay more than $5 million in total to the band. It was a huge amount, the largest anyone had been granted for that type of plagiarism. Bolton and the others involved filed an appeal and fought the ruling for seven years, but the battle came to an end in 2001. Bolton paid $932,924, his songwriter paid $220,785, and Sony Music paid $4.2 million in restitution.

Michael Bolton has dated several famous women

A man who sings love songs as well as Michael Bolton should be involved in a successful relationship, don't you think? The singer has been married once and has dated a lot of women over the years. He dated actress Ashley Judd, whom he met on the set of a music video. The pair didn't last too long but are reportedly still friends, according to Little Things. He has also been linked to tennis star Gabriela Sabatini, actress Brooke Shields, and Donald Trump's ex-wife Marla Maples.

Bolton had a long-running relationship with "Desperate Housewives" star Nicollette Sheridan. The pair started dating in 1992, broke up, got back together, got engaged in 2006, and then split for good after a two-year engagement in 2008, according to Reuters. Fast-forward a few years, and their long-gone relationship made the news because of a "love square" (not a love triangle) concerning Lisa Rinna, Harry Hamlin, Sheridan, and Bolton, according to Too Fab. Rinna claimed Sheridan cheated on her husband, Hamlin, with Bolton, accusations that Sheridan denied.

Bolton, meanwhile, said Rinna was always very nice to him because she felt that his relationship with Sheridan opened up the possibility for her to marry Hamlin and have a child with him. Bolton explained that Rinna was "basically attributing her happiness to me, which I thought was curious."

He once babysat Paula Abdul, who later choreographed one of his videos

Hollywood is all about connections, and Michael Bolton made one with a young girl who would help him down the line. During an interview with Andy Cohen on SiriusXM Radio (via Today), he explained that many years ago, his guitarist dated Paula Abdul's older sister. At the time, Bolton was writing songs and making demos in an attempt to land a record deal in Los Angeles. He, the guitarist, and the guitarist's girlfriend wanted to go out one night but were unable to because the woman's little sister couldn't be left home alone. Bolton explained, "So that turned into the perception that we were babysitting for her. We were all stuck at the house basically." 

Abdul also recalled the story during an interview on "The Kelly Clarkson Show." She said that her sister and Bolton were friends, and she remembered him as a Connecticut songwriter who visited the West Coast during the summer. Abdul explained, "He had his girlfriend, who ended up being his wife later on, Maureen. We were all together and I would be in my Brownie uniform and no one wanted to babysit and we'd make Michael [do it] ... Michael would have to babysit."

But Bolton didn't do a good job, according to Abdul, because he only cared about music. However, years later, Bolton called Abdul and asked for her help to choreograph one of his videos. She knew it was him and not a joke because he called her a "little brat."

Michael Bolton had a brain tumor removed

Michael Bolton spent the better part of 2023 performing for receptive audiences in Mexico, Europe, and Las Vegas, and was set to tour extensively throughout the U.S. and Canada in 2024. Just before he was about to hit the road again, Bolton announced on January 6, 2024, that all upcoming tour dates had been canceled due to extenuating medical circumstances.

"2023 ended up presenting me with some very unexpected challenges. Just before the holidays, it was discovered that I had a brain tumor, which required immediate surgery," Bolton wrote on his Instagram page."Thanks to my incredible medical team, the surgery was a success. I am now recuperating at home and surrounded by the tremendous love and support of my family." Unable to sing at his usual level, Bolton, 70 years old at the time of his serious medical diagnosis and subsequent major and invasive medical procedure, will occupy at least the first few months of 2024 by quietly convalescing. "It is always the hardest thing for me to ever disappoint my fans or postpone a show, but have no doubt I am working hard to accelerate my recovery and get back to performing soon," Bolton explained.