Tragic Details About Keith Urban

Keith Urban would appear to have it all. As a Nashville hitmaker, he has no fewer than 18 Hot Country number ones, four GRAMMY Awards, and more than 20 million album sales to his famous name. As a TV personality, he's judged two of the biggest talent shows in history. As a family man, he has two children with one of the most talented Hollywood stars of the modern era, the one and only Nicole Kidman

But not everything has always been so rosy in the Urban world. Indeed, the New Zealand-born, Australian-raised, and American-residing star certainly has plenty of lyrical inspiration to draw from. The "You'll Think of Me" singer has had to deal with several highly publicized addiction issues, both his own and others, over the years. Then there are the losses of various loved ones, battles with mental and physical health, and a chaotic concert that landed him in the headlines for all the wrong reasons. And we've not even mentioned the trauma of watching his childhood home go up in flames. Here's a look at 14 of the biggest tragedies to have befallen the country king.

Keith Urban lost his father to cancer

In 2015, Keith Urban revealed at the Country Music Hall of Fame that the man who'd informed his own love of the genre, his father Robert "Bob" Urban was now in a hospice following a lengthy battle with cancer. Sadly, just a week later, the "Somewhere In My Car" singer put out another statement informing fans that his dad had passed away.

Urban wrote on his official website (via ABC News), "I've been deeply touched by the outpouring of love and support that Nic and I, and our family, have received since my dad's passing on Saturday night. His long battle with cancer is now over and he is finally at peace. My dad's love of country music and America set me on my life's journey, and shaped so much of who I am today. Thank you to everyone who has kept us all in your thoughts and prayers."

The loss of Urban's father came just over a year after the sudden death of his father-in-law. Dr. Antony Kidman suffered a fatal fall during a visit to Nicole Kidman's sister Antonia in Singapore. Urban pulled out of a charity gig in California after learning of the news en route. The "Eyes Wide Shut" star later spoke about how her husband was her rock during such a difficult time, telling Mamamia, "I'm incredibly fortunate that I've managed to find an extraordinary man."

Keith Urban's family home burned down

Keith Urban wasn't one of the unfortunate celebrities who lost their houses in the California wildfires of 2018. But that doesn't mean he couldn't relate to the stars who did. In fact, he suffered a very similar experience at the age of just 10 when his family home burned down.

Luckily, Urban and the rest of his immediate family weren't on the property at the time. The "You Look Good In My Shirt" singer and his sibling were in school, while mother Marienne and father Robert were both at work. But the memories of what was left still haunt him, as he told Extra on the CMA Awards red carpet: "When you're walking through the house and it's just charred and black as black everywhere you look and there's water still dripping everywhere and the firemen have left ... and I remember thinking, 'I was just in here this morning getting ready for school and now it's just ... '"

Urban also recalled how locals rallied around the family following their devastating loss: "And not just the Goodwills and the Salvation Armys and the Red Crosses, which also came to our aid, but also the community with clothing and food and shelter and a place to stay — unbelievable. And you're seeing it out in California. right now. It's really amazing."

Keith Urban grew up with alcoholic father

Keith Urban's own issues with the demon drink have been widely documented. But in 2016, the "Once in a Lifetime" singer revealed to Rolling Stone that he'd grown up with a father who had a similar problem. 

Urban opened up about his early family life when asked if there was anything he wished he could have changed about it. "I'd like to have been raised in a much more intimate house," he answered. "My dad was an alcoholic, and I grew up in an alcoholic's house. No intimacy."

In another chat with the same magazine five years later, Urban explained that his experiences as a youngster impacted his ability to deal with his own substance abuse issues: "It took me a long time to get sober. Took me a long time to recognize my alcoholism. A long time because I didn't drink like my dad, so I compared everything to him. So it just took a long time for me. But I was able to finally make the right choice in my life, that I wish my dad would have made."

Keith Urban was beaten by his father

Keith Urban's father Robert was not only an alcoholic, he was a strict disciplinarian, too. Unfortunately for the future country star and his brother, this would often manifest itself in physical beatings. 

During his 2016 interview with Rolling Stone, Urban revealed how it took him a long time to accept that he was a victim of abuse: "Ten years ago, I would have said, 'He never did anything I didn't deserve.' Now I realize it's not about deserving it." The "Raining on Sunday" singer then added how his father was emotionally distant, too. "I don't recall him ever telling me he loved me as a kid. 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."

The multiple GRAMMY Award winner also spoke about how his dad appeared to have forgotten the physical abuse he inflicted as he entered his twilight years: "I don't think he was in denial, he genuinely had no recollection. 'Hitting you? I never did that!'" In a separate interview with the same magazine, Urban said that his mother also has a similar selective memory about the physical pain he suffered.

Keith Urban became addicted to cocaine

In 1998, Keith Urban made what would be the first of several trips to rehab after enjoying the rock and roll lifestyle a little too much. The "Making Memories of Us" singer checked himself into the Cumberland Heights facility in the home of country music, Nashville, on realizing that his addiction to cocaine had gotten out of control.

Urban was living in the Tennessee city at the time, as he recalled several years later to USA Weekend (via TMZ): "I had this house in Nashville where I used to do drugs. It was a really cheap, rundown place. I remember one night crawling around on my hands and knees, looking for these little rocks at five in the morning, and I was drenched in sweat. It was the worst."

In another interview with Rolling Stone, Urban recalled how he began his wild partying days while touring with his band The Ranch: "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."

Keith Urban slipped into deep depression during drug years

In his revealing Rolling Stone interview in 2016, Keith Urban reflected not only on the physical toll of his drug addiction but also its emotional. In fact, the "Tonight I Wanna Cry" singer was once so depressed that he started to believe that his end was near.

Referring to the despair he experienced while taking ecstasy and cocaine in the 1990s, Urban said, "I didn't seem able to stop. There was no stopping this time. 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*** 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.' I was taking everything. I remember thinking, 'Oh, good, this is the end of it, yahoo.' I was quite happy about it."

Urban also expressed his regret that he didn't seek professional help much earlier than he did: "I knew I wasn't at my full potential, and that's what was starting to get to me. I was enslaved ... I was living a very, very small life."

Nicole Kidman staged an intervention for Keith Urban

It seems fair to say that Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban didn't get much of a honeymoon period. Just four months after they walked down the aisle together at a ceremony in Sydney, the country singer half of the power couple once again checked himself into rehab. This time around it was for alcohol abuse. And it was the result of an intervention, too.

Yes, as Urban explained to Rolling Stone about his stint in the Betty Ford Center, Kidman took matters into her own hands after he fell off the sobriety wagon: "I was very, very blessed to have Nic call an intervention on me. I had a tight group of friends around me for the intervention. And off I went ... I didn't give a s*** about anything except turning a corner in my life and doing whatever it took for that."

Urban revealed that he'd succumbed to the demon drink for the first time in eight years during a period in which his wife was busy shooting a film in Kosovo. He said, "I would find myself feeling very alone, very lost, and vulnerable to my old ways." The hitmaker later penned several tracks paying tribute to Kidman including "The Fighter."

Keith Urban got into a motorcycle accident

Keith Urban experienced the downside of being a world-famous country music star in 2020 when he was essentially pursued by a paparazzi photographer on his way to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting near his wife Nicole Kidman's Sydney home. In an effort to shake him off, the "Little Bit of Everything" singer, who was riding a motorcycle at the time, ended up getting into an accident.

In a statement released through American publicist Paul Freundlich (via People), Urban was keen to set the record straight about what went down: "Some have already attempted to inflate the facts, but the reality is this: While out riding to an AA meeting, a time when my privacy is especially important to me, I felt myself being pursued. I sped up, and, in an effort to elude an oncoming car which was making an illegal u-turn, saw no choice but to drop my bike."

The Nashville favorite then threw something of a plot twist into proceedings, revealing that the man who'd essentially caused the incident actually came to his aid, resisting the temptation to take any snaps in the process. Luckily, Urban was unhurt and was able to continue to his AA meeting.

Keith Urban's longtime tour manager died in a fatal fall

In 2021, Keith Urban was booked to play the Bash on the Bay, an annual festival staged at Ohio's Lake Erie. Tragically, the day before while preparations were being put in place for his appearance, his long-running tour production manager suffered a fatal fall.

Randy "Baja" Fletcher, who'd previously worked with the likes of Randy Travis, ZZ Top, and Waylon Jennings before teaming up with Urban in 2011, was overseeing the staging at the time. In a statement released to Billboard, the "Long Hot Summer" singer spoke of Fletcher's zest for life. "He saw the commonality in all of us and I can promise you this, once you'd been in the orbit of his light, he'd stay with you forever. Some people ask are you a 'glass half full or a glass half empty' kinda person? Baja's view was 'What a beautiful glass.' I loved him. We all loved him, and I'm grateful he chose us as his road family for 10 years."

Four years previously, Fletcher had accepted the inaugural Touring Lifetime Achievement Award by the Country Music Association for his services to the industry. The production manager had enjoyed a five-decade stint in the business, interrupted only by a Vietnam tour during his brief spell in the American military.

Keith Urban's childhood dreams were shattered on TV

Keith Urban's glittering career came full circle in 2011 when he was appointed as one of four coaches on the inaugural season of "The Voice." The "Who Wouldn't Wanna Be Me" singer had first caught attention as a youngster on two separate TV talent shows. Unfortunately, on both occasions, the judges essentially failed to spin their chairs around.

Urban first put himself at the mercy of Bernard King — '70s Australia's answer to Simon Cowell — as an 11-year-old on "Pot of Gold" with a cover of "Applejack." And the fearsome judge didn't hold back, brutally telling the tween, as recalled on "Conan": "I desperately encourage you to escape the mediocrity, get out of country and western music, and get into some real music otherwise you'll end up sounding like Dolly Parton and absolutely useless."

Undeterred, Urban went on to try his luck on "New Faces" at the age of 16 with a rendition of Air Supply's soft-rock classic "All Out of Love." Obviously not sensing they had a future GRAMMY-winning chart-topper on their hands, the show's judging panel claimed that he still had a lot of work to do.

Keith Urban struggled with artistic confidence

Keith Urban likes nothing more than hitting the road. So it's little surprise that the "You're My Better Half" singer found it hard to adapt to lockdown life during the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic. In fact, even after just two weeks of being stuck at home, he found himself "quivering in the corner."

During a 2020 interview for Apple Beats with Zane Lowe (via Daily Mail), Urban recalled how the cancelation of his impending tours impacted his mental and creative mindset: "I discovered that I derive too much of my artistic confidence from playing live and being in the studio and when those two things got taken out from under me, it affected my center as a creative person, so I had to figure my way back to that creative place with confidence. That took a little while."

The country hitmaker even compared his reaction to the bathroom stall scene in "Dumb and Dumber" where Jim Carrey's Lloyd Christmas begins sucking his thumb as a coping mechanism: "That's about what I felt like for the first two weeks of this whole thing because, especially when it became more apparent we're not going to be touring for a while. I'm just like, 'Nope. What? No, no, no, no.' Always toured. Always toured. Must tour. Trying to keep being creative in this new singular realm was a bit of a turn for me."

Keith Urban's entire guitar collection was damaged in a flood

It seems as though the elements are against Keith Urban. As well as losing all of his earthly possessions in the fire that engulfed his family home at the age of 10, the country superstar also had to suffer the heartache of losing his beloved collection of guitars in a flood.

Yes, in 2010, an extreme downpour affected the Nashville rehearsal space where Urban stored his stash of musical instruments. And sadly, it instantly rendered them unplayable. The "But for the Grace of God" singer was particularly cut up about the damage to his 1988 Fender Telecaster, a 40th-anniversary edition model named after guardian angel Clarence in the festive classic "It's A Wonderful Life."

Urban had bought the guitar during one of his first visits to the Big Apple during a period when he barely had a cent to his name. He told Rolling Stone, "It cost $2,500, or around $5,000 Australian, which is, like, $6,000 more than I had. But I feel like if a guitar is in your possession, you're the current caretaker and your job is simply to take care of it. The fact that they all drowned on my watch just was devastating to me."

Keith Urban has been plagued by voice problems

Keith Urban's career has been halted several times by one of the worst nightmares for someone who makes a living out of belting out country music smashes to thousands of fans for weeks on end: damage to his voice.

The "Blue Ain't Your Color" singer was first forced to take a break after developing throat problems shortly after The Ranch released their self-titled debut album in 1997. And then 14 years later, Urban had to postpone all live commitments when he underwent surgery to remove a vocal polyp that developed during his "Get Closer World Tour." Twenty-four hours before the successful procedure, which left him unable to talk for three weeks, the singer-songwriter told fans on his official website (via Reuters), "I want to thank you for sending such good wishes for my upcoming surgery. I can't express enough my gratitude to you guys; it feels like family."

Luckily, Urban made a full recovery and he later paid tribute to the doctor, Steven M. Zeitels, who helped him on this path. "When you healed it and fixed it the way you did, I felt my entire spirit and life lift," he said at an event honoring the medic (via Billboard). "I got stressed way less, I didn't have anxiety. It had such a profound effect on my whole being and world. That's how important my voice is to me."

'Nutso' Keith Urban show resulted in dozens of hospitalizations and arrests

"Up on the lawn tonight, that was nutso," Keith Urban tweeted (via CNN) after performing a gig at Mansfield's Xfinity Center in what proved to be something of an understatement. Indeed, apparently unbeknownst to the "Where the Blacktop Ends" singer, the chaotic 2014 show in question resulted in over 50 arrests, dozens of hospitalizations for alcohol-related problems, and even an allegation of rape.

Indeed, appearing to take the infamous Woodstock '99 as a source of inspiration, Urban's army of fans caused so much trouble that the local emergency services had to call for help from five other towns. Luckily, despite the arrival of two life support ambulances at the "mass casualty incident," each and every one of the 18,000 fans in attendance made it back home in one piece.

Urban did acknowledge all the drama, particularly the rape allegation which was later dismissed by police, in a statement (via Variety) several days later: "My team and I were horrified to learn of the events reported in Boston this past weekend and our hearts and prayers go out to all those affected. This type of behavior stands in stark contrast to the spirit of our shows."