Keith Urban Opens Up: ‘My Dad Was an Alcoholic’
Keith Urban has shared many warm memories of his father in the months since his death, but in a new interview, he opens up about the more difficult side of their relationship when he was growing up.
"My dad was an alcoholic, and I grew up in an alcoholic's house," Urban tells Rolling Stone Country. "No intimacy."
Robert Urban passed away in December 2015 after a long battle with cancer, and Urban revealed his health struggles just days before, at the opening of his exhibit at the Country Music Hall of Fame. "So [the exhibit] is bittersweet a little bit because [my dad] is the catalyst for all of this," he told the Tennessean. "My dad is the catalyst for me living in America.”
But Urban admits to Rolling Stone Country that their relationship was complicated. "My recollection is that he was a physical disciplinarian. Ten years ago, I would have said, 'He never did anything I didn't deserve.' Now I realize it's not about deserving it."
His dad sewed many of the costumes that Urban wore as a child performer, which are now on display at the Hall of Fame. His love for country music sparked his son's career. Urban says what he really wanted was his approval.
"I don't recall him ever telling me he loved me as a kid," he reveals. "I'd do a gig I thought was fantastic and the only thing he'd say is, 'When you speak onstage, you've got to slow down.' He never commented on anything else. And the way he disciplined me, he seemed to have forgotten about it as he got older. I don't think he was in denial, he genuinely had no recollection. 'Hitting you? I never did that!'"
Urban experienced substance abuse problems of his own as an adult, especially after coming to Nashville and struggling to find his place in the music business there via a series of hard knocks. His alcoholism and drug use reached critical mass shortly after he married Nicole Kidman in 2006, and she staged an intervention that changed his life. The couple have been married for a decade now, and Urban has settled into a happy life as a husband and father to their two daughters, Faith Margaret and Sunday Rose.
"I caused the implosion of my fresh marriage," he says. "It survived, but it's a miracle it did. 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."
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