Leif Garrett, the teen idol, doesn’t seem to receive enough recognition as a performer and musician, in my opinion. He was so much more deserving!
The former teen idol went through severe highs and lows during his career, but the highs he sought through drug addiction, which he used as a crutch, caused him to sink his career.
Holding your breath before you meet him today at 61 would be a good idea.
Such a little baby he was. Leif Garrett began his career as a child actor before transitioning to music in the 1970s, when he began to win the hearts of young girls.
Leif’s image could be seen on every teen magazine cover at the checkout counters, according to my mother, who claimed to have noticed this when she and her parents went to the grocery store.
The 1969 movie Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, which ended up being the sixth highest-grossing movie of the year, featured the American singer-actor who was 5 years old at the time. He was born in Hollywood, California.
The sleepy-eyed, flaxen-haired hottie then starred in Walking Tall and its two sequels after that. He appeared in Francis Ford Coppola’s The Outsiders in 1983 alongside several other teenage heartthrobs, such as Matt Dillon, C. Thomas Howell, Patrick Swayze, and Tom Cruise.
Before he came out, Tab Hunter had a discreet relationship with a well-known actor.
A few people may also be familiar with him through his roles in the TV shows Family, The Odd Couple (1974), Wonder Woman (1978), and CHiPs (1979).
Fans went wild when he sang covers of well-known songs like The Wanderer (Dion), Surfin’ USA (The Beach Boys), and Paul Anka’s Put Your Head on My Shoulder on his debut album, Leif Garret, which was released in 1977.
The world was in Garrett’s hands. The blonde singer with scruffy hair went on tour throughout the world, and when his largely young female fans saw him, they immediately went wild.
”I was on a public appearance tour in Sydney, Australia, and they had to fly me in by helicopter and then I jumped into an armored car and drove into the theater by back door. I’ve tried using a lim there before, but the fans almost tipped it over. I guess it’s an adrenalin push for them. They just freak out. It’s very weird,” Garrett told New York Daily News in 1979.
But even though his music was close to topping the charts, he struggled with management that made him feel like a “fraud.” The crossover to adulthood was also a challenge for Garrett.
“I think I was a good performer from the get-go but I wish they had offered me singing lessons before ever making a record and doing the typical punching in a sentence here or there or words or whatever,” Garret said in an interview.
“There’s a particular track (I Was Looking for Someone to Love) that doesn’t even sound like me at all. I would even possibly say I wasn’t even on that track. And to me, that IS fraud. That’s like a Milli Vanilli situation, the difference being, of course, mine was blended many times with myself and somebody else.”
After Garrett crashed a car and sent it careening down a hillside in North Hollywood while intoxicated and high, rendering his then-close friend Ronald Winkler paraplegic, Garrett’s career began to decline.
For Garret, though, it wasn’t enough, and his life kept going worse.
In 1980, a time he describes in his book as “the apex of pinup fame,” Garret revelled in sex, drugs and rock and roll with the legendary frontman of Queen, Freddie Mercury, who was at the time recording the hugely successful album The Game, which featured the hits “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” and “Another One Bites the Dust.” Garrett said he became friends with the band, who showed him a real rock star life with girls and drugs.
In an interview with Fox for the release of his memoir, Idol Truth, Garrett said:“I don’t think I was a very mature 16-year-old. I became mature very quickly because I was always surrounded by adults who were drinking and doing coke. I was a child, but being treated as an adult… And all of this was coming out of my pocket.”
He continued: “You know, I probably have the greatest fan base that I could ever imagine for myself. They have stuck with me through thick and thin. And as you know, I’ve gotten myself in plenty of bad situations. There was a lot of bad decision-making. But at the same time, I didn’t have the parental guidance that I should have at that time.”
Garret has been charged with numerous offenses. He left treatment and had several run-ins with the law, including when he attempted to purchase drugs from undercover officers and tried to conceal heroin in his shoe.
Garrett put a lot of effort into trying to climb back to the top, but eventually he went back to his old ways. Garrett was chosen to offer commentary on the comedy program World’s Dumbest, which profiles the “most wonderfully stupid” offenders, as a result of his amusing run-ins with the authorities.
Several famous people with a history of misadventures were also featured on the program, including Todd Bridges, Tonya Harding, Gary Busey, and Danny Bonaduce.
Then Garrett received a major position on the VH1 program Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew, which he had no desire to be a part of. Garrett said that the program caused him to relapse for drama, however VH1 categorically refuted this claim.
In an interview the LA Times, Garrett said: “They asked to get some footage of me using, and I said, ‘I haven’t been using. They said, ‘We really have to get footage of you using.’ Anyway, I was easily talked into showing them.”
When a counselor with the production called him out, suggesting he was still using, Garrett walked off the show saying: “This is insanity and quite honestly I don’t appreciate it.”
Fortunately, Leif Garrett is sober today.
”I had a 90-day sentence in county jail. I was in court-ordered rehab before that, and then my mom visited and told me she had stage IV lung cancer. I said, ‘I’m leaving to take care of her—nobody lives with her.’ So dealing with that, I started using again. So it was like, ‘Cuff him, bring him in,’ and I did the 90 days, and that was it,” he says.
According to the former teen idol, he’s still very grateful for all his fans.
”I’ve kept every photo or letter that a young lady sent, telling me about being on their walls and kissing me good night before they went to bed,” Garrett told Closer. “It’s very surreal and a bit embarrassing, but how flattering! I can’t thank [my fans] enough, because I’m still able to do something I enjoy and get paid for it.”
Leif’s recuperation has our support, and we want him to enjoy his life right now!
Please let us know what you think about the former teen idol’s sobriety endeavors.