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Keith Urban Talks Dark Days Before Rehab

Keith Urban
Kevin Winter, Getty Images

Keith Urban will, rightfully, go down in history as one of the leading country music artists of his generation. But while the New Zealand-born star has sold millions of albums and won dozens of awards, including four Grammys, he admits he almost lost all of it due to his battle with drugs and alcohol.

While the ‘Somewhere in My Car’ singer has chosen to deal with much of his struggle with addiction privately, he is finally speaking out about how difficult sobriety was for him, and what ultimately saved him from himself.

Urban moved from Australia to Nashville in 1992, and started out as the lead singer of a band called the Ranch. But though he was quickly gaining notoriety for his music, he was also becoming more and more entrenched in drugs and alcohol, and almost missed the opportunity to play on ‘Some Days You Gotta Dance’ from the Dixie Chicks‘ ‘Fly’ album.

“I got on a bit of a three-day bender and couldn’t come to the session and had to call them and tell them I’m going to be a bit late,” he recalls to Rolling Stone Country. “Then I would call them and say I’m going to be a bit later. And then I would call them and be a bit later. And I completely missed the session. I lived like a street away. It was ridiculous. I could have walked there with my guitar in hand and I couldn’t make it. I remember just feeling so ashamed and disgusted at myself. I finally [showed up] the next day.”

Urban checked himself into rehab in 1998, but the success was short-lived. It wasn’t until he met his now-wife, actress Nicole Kidman, that he finally found the courage to embrace sobriety.

“We shot [2006's 'Love, Pain & the Whole Crazy Thing'] over in England where Nic was doing something at the time,” he recalls. “I think we were mixing [the album] to coincide with her being there. I wasn’t in any recovery program of any sort. I wasn’t in AA. I didn’t have a sponsor. I didn’t have anything. Meeting Nic and falling in love with Nic and starting a relationship with Nic became — I realize now in hindsight — my sobriety. That was how I was able to keep it together.”

Only four months after he and Kidman wed, Urban checked himself into a residential rehab program to face his demons head-on, after his wife and a few close friends staged an intervention.

Urban emerged from rehab with a new lease on life, and his career and personal life have soared. He has two children (five-year-old Sunday Rose and Faith Margaret, three), and has released three more albums since getting sober, including his recent No.1 album, ‘Fuse.’ In addition, Urban just finished his second season as a judge on the hit TV show, ‘American Idol,’ and says that he will return next season as well.

Urban will kick off his 2014 Raise ‘Em Up Tour on July 12 in Alberta, Canada, with Jerrod Niemann and Brett Eldredge serving as his opening acts. See a list of all of his upcoming shows here.

Next: The Top 10 Keith Urban Songs

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