Keith Urban Opens Up About His Struggles With Drugs and Insecurities
Though Keith Urban is one of country’s most well-known modern artists, he hasn’t always had it easy. Beneath his golden hair, million-watt smile and vats of talent are the scars from his past battles with demons such as drugs, alcohol and many insecurities. The country superstar opens up about his past in a revealing new interview with Rolling Stone.
Urban has been married to actress Nicole Kidman since 2006, and thanks to his success as a country artist and his past judging role on American Idol, he seems to have it all. However, Urban is eager to explain that his life today didn’t come easily.
“They know me now as being married to Nic. They’ve seen me on TV. And they just sort of think, ‘He’s the luckiest guy in the world,'” Urban says. But, he adds, “There’s just so much s–t underneath all that that you didn’t see.”
Throughout the interview, Urban recalls his past drug use, including the first time he used cocaine: After moving to Nashville in 1992, his music career wasn’t panning out the way he had hoped; his good looks, talent, charming accent and success in Australia didn’t immediately translate to success in Music City. His roommate offered him cocaine and, as Urban recalls, “things didn’t immediately go pear-shaped, but that was the beginning of it.”
“When I was onstage, I felt good, but if I was not onstage, I was very, very insecure. I felt like I didn’t have much of anything to offer. I was just an alien. And then I was on the phone with this girl I was dating. She’s trying to break up with me. I’m saying, ‘What the hell? What’s going on? What’s happened?’ And eventually she said, ‘For f–k’s sake, can’t you see that the novelty of you has worn off?'” Urban admits. “You might say, ‘Big deal.’ But I was feeling insecure, and the fact that me and my accent would be a novelty to somebody cut me to the core. Oh, my God. Really bad. It devastated me.
“It was a turning point. After that, s–t started to really go awry. I stepped up my drinking. I started doing more drugs,” he continues. “Yeah, man. The whole back end of the ’90s were just awful.”
Coke and Ecstasy were Urban’s drugs of choice: “They were my thing,” he says. “I loved them.” However, his will to live was low, and he found himself unable to stop his drug and alcohol use.
“I’d go to sleep, wake up a couple of hours later, go at it again, drinking to take the edge off. I remember thinking, ‘I’m probably not going to make it until tomorrow.’ And then I thought, ‘F–k it. I really don’t care. It’ll be a relief to not have to. I’ll take an Ambien and at some point I’ll pass,'” Urban shares. “I was taking everything. I remember thinking, ‘Oh, good, this is the end of it, yahoo.’ I was quite happy about it.”
Urban often says his wife “saved” him: His final entrance into rehab came after she staged an intervention in 2006. It was his third time in eight years, but that time, Urban found the strength to stay sober for good. He still feels guilt over the pain his addictions caused in their new marriage.
“I caused the implosion of my fresh marriage. It survived, but it’s a miracle it did,” he says. “I was spiritually awoken with her. I use the expression ‘I was born into her,’ and that’s how I feel. And for the first time in my life, I could shake off the shackles of addiction.”
Today, Urban is one of country music’s biggest stars. He recently released a new album, Ripcord, which debuted at No. 1 and set a record. He’s on the road, on his 2016 Ripcord World Tour, and he’s looking forward to something special toward the end of his trek: playing in New Zealand on Dec. 3.
“I’m so psyched about finally getting to play a real show in the country of my birth,” Urban says. “The last time I played music there, I was in a duo playing every weekend at a pub called the DB Onerahi in Whangarei … and I was 17. This is gonna be an amazing feeling!”
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