And as much as country music likes to sing about cold beers and strong whiskey, there’s a number of artists who no longer touch the stuff. And some who’ve struggled to break free from much more powerful substances.
Tim McGraw, Keith Urban, Brantley Gilbert, Chris Janson, Margo Price, Jason Isbell, Tyler Childers and many more, have given up on drinking alcohol all together. And for some, it almost cost them their lives.
According to a 2017 interview with The Tennessean,he was a few days into rehab and ready to call it quits. Once he started feeling a little better, told his rehab counselors and his manager he was leaving, but there was someone that they wanted him to meet before he made up his mind.
“I had just been able to get out of bed and get to a shower without having to crawl… I remember thinking, these fuckers are pulling out all the stops.”
Gilbert’s alcohol abuse began at a young age. When Gilbert was just 19, he flipped his truck high on pain pills.
However, according to a witness, he landed on his feet after being thrown from the vehicle.
He moved to Nashville in 2009 with a songwriting deal and although he exploded onto the map with the hit single “Country Must Be Country Wide,” he was dying on the inside. Drugs and alcohol were destroying his liver, kidneys, and pancreas.
Forced to go to the hospital, and then to rehab, that’s where he met Keith Urban.
“I told him, I don’t think I can do my job. I don’t know if I can ever play a song at my shows without being (messed) up. Or writing, I was worried my songs wouldn’t be the same, that I wouldn’t be on everyone else’s level.”
Urban told him that when he first got sober, he felt the exact same way, terrified of performing sober. However, Keith also explained how much being sober had made him a better man, both professionally and in his personal life.
“My whole world flipped… At that point, I was like, ‘All right.’ ”
Finally, Gilbert was able to get back on stage, completely sober.
“As a man, I feel like I’m leaps and bounds ahead of where I was. I’m concerned about things that matter.”
He credits Urban with saving his life.
“If it weren’t for him, I don’t know if I’d be sober or be in this business anymore. I’d probably be dead.”
He discussed the topic more with John Rich on Fox News:
He would later record a song called “Just As I Am” about finally overcoming his addiction: