Keith Urban is a family man these days, parenting two young daughters with wife Nicole Kidman. His down time is largely spent at their home in Nashville, waking up early to prepare breakfast before singing Disney songs with his girls. But life wasn’t always so family-friendly for the superstar. He recently opened up to Rolling Stone about his time in rehab and the first time he played a show sober.
Before striking out as a solo act, Urban was part of a trio known as The Ranch. The band recorded the song “Some Days You Gotta Dance.” When the Dixie Chicks heard it, they recorded it as well, asking Urban to play on the tune. When it was time to go into the studio, Urban was busy elsewhere.
“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 told Rolling Stone. “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,” he continued. “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.”
After a stint in rehab in 1998, Urban was faced with playing shows sober, something he had rarely done. He recalls his pre-rehab days with less than fond memories.
“The Ranch was a mess, period, because we were in a s**t van going all over the country playing to three people,” he told the magazine. “It was soul sucking to the ultimate degree. So I just drank, but I didn’t really play high or anything like that. I liked to get crazy after the gig, and when I would do lots of drugs is when I was home off the road. If we were home for five days, I’d be f***ed up most of the time, and then I would sort of get it together, fall into the van, sleep to whatever, Wichita, Kansas, then I would sort of come to, and then we would play the show that night.”
Urban would return to rehab eight years later, shortly after he and Nicole Kidman married. His return trip was thanks to an intervention staged by Kidman. It was in rehab that Urban learned he had won the CMA Award for Male Vocalist of the Year.
“I said to my roommate, ‘Hey, I just won Male Vocalist of the Year,’ and he’s like, ‘That’s awesome,’” Urban recalled. “I just lay there in the dark going, ‘How weird is this?’”
Keith will kick off his Raise ‘Em Up Tour later this month.