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From Pop Idol back to his Rock 'N Roll roots, we get candid with Leif and help him celebrate his 60th birthday.
Rock 'n Roll Roulette
Fast paced, rapid fire, and unedited
In the 1970's, it was almost impossible to pick up a copy of Tiger Beat or Teen Beat Magazine and not see a photo of Leif Garrett. Leif was the All- American "Teen Heartthrob" for most of the decade. With his catchy pop songs, long blond hair, and glinty smile, teenaged girls swooned and had pictures of him on their bedroom walls. They dreamt about him, while playing his pop songs, and girls dreamt of meeting him in person, or marrying him one day. He was constantly on FM radio and on every major TV show he could appear on, on mainsteam TV in our homes. He appeared in many movies, as well.
By Kreig Marks, November 2021
KM: Your career started when you were a little kid. What got you interested in acting?
LG: My mom actually went to a photo shoot and an audition for herself, and took me and my siblings with her. We were all real little at the time. My mom was really beautiful and she got the job. Then, she told the director she had to leave because her kids were waiting in the room outside, and they came out and saw us, and asked her if she would let us get our photos taken too. And, that's how it started.
KM: Thank you Mom! Your first hit song, “I Was Made for Dancing.” A huge hit. But, you wanted to do Rock, am I correct in saying this?
LG: Yeah. I was always listening to bands like the Stones, Led Zeppelin, Clapton, things like that. I was a big Rock fan. I wanted to do Rock music but, this is what was given to me and it did launch my music career. I won't deny that.
KM: Do you feel that the success of “I Was Made for Dancing” kind of pigeonholed your music career?
LG: Umm, not really.
KM: Did you ever tell your manager, “Look man, I want to do Rock music!”
LG: Oh yeah, constantly.
KM: As a teen, man, you were everywhere. Posters on every girls wall, screaming girls at your concerts. Everywhere you went, you never had privacy. When did it get to the point where you just wanted some peace and privacy, or where could you get it?
LG: Yeah, it was a lot of fun when this first happened. But, yeah, it definitely got to the point where I couldn't go out anywhere, a movie, dinner, out with friends, without being followed or attacked by a mob of girls. They were always trying to get at me, pulling my hair, my clothes. You know, it probably sounds like a lot of fun to someone not living it. When there's a huge crowd of girls coming at you, someone can really get hurt. Seriously. At first, it was a lot of fun, getting that attention. But, it definitely got old and there were a lot of times where I just wanted to be left alone, to be able to go out and do normal things without even thinking about it. But, it was impossible a lot of the time.
KM: Everyone in this crazy life makes mistakes, bad decisions. Man, I’ve made tons of them. If you could go back in time and pick 2 days that really stand out in your mind, where you regret the decision you made on those 2 days, tell me about it.
LG: The first one, when I was 17, to be able to go back and call a cab or a friend, instead of getting behind the wheel and driving, or, trying to drive in that condition. I've regretted that since the day it happened. [ On November 3, 1979, a few days before his 18th birthday, Leif and his friend Roland Winkler were involved in a serious car accident that left Roland a paraplegic. Both had come from a party where they had been drinking ]
KM: How did your struggles affect your family and those who love you?
LG: My mom stuck by me 100%. She always has. She's been the rock in my life. My sister basically abandoned me. We don't talk much these days.
KM: Are you sober now?
LG: As far as the hard drugs, yes. I've been away from that for quite a while. Do I smoke marijuana? Yeah, I'll smoke a joint now and then. But, as far as the drinking and hard drugs, I'm away from that.
KM: Is it a constant struggle?
LG: Surprisingly, not really.
KM: Good to hear. I'm glad you found your peace with that.
LG: Yeah, me too.
KM: Alright. Let's shift gears for a moment. First word that comes to mind. I'm gonna say a word, name, phrase, and you say the first thing that pops into your mind. Ready?
LG: LOL, OK. Are there any wrong answers?
KM: Nope. Just answers. If you don't want to answer, just say "pass."
LG: OK, let's do this!
KM: Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice
LG: My first movie experience as an actor.
KM: Walking Tall
LG: A lot of fun.
KM: The Outsiders
LG: Even more fun. The most awesome experience ever. It was really an amazing experience.
KM: Thunder Alley
LG: Lot of fun....Wish it had better songs
KM: Rosie O’Donnell
LG: Oh boy. Really?
KM: Remember, you can pass.
LG: You had to say this one? LOL. I guess you probably saw that interview?
KM: Yeah. She was pretty vicious. You looked like you were having a pretty hard time then, and she seemed to love getting the attention by putting you in a pretty uncomfortable position. But, you can pass over it.
LG: Nah. One answer.....Bitch!
KM: Did she ever apologize?
LG: LOL. Ha! Her? Yeah, I was in a very bad place then. I should have never accepted the invite to be on her show. I stepped into a trap. Unfortunately, in my state of mind at the time, I wasn't thinking about that and she knew I was in a bad place, and she took advantage of that for her own personal agenda and emotional greed. You know, she didn't know what she was talking about.
KM: Seems that she used you for ratings. She was famous for doing things like that. You looked like you had a lot of restraint though.
LG: Exactly. Next question. LOL.
KM: I didn't think so. Do you want to record a new album?
LG: Yeah. Actually, I'm in the process of writing several songs. I'm hoping to have them recorded and ready for release in November, around the time of my birthday, the big 6-0. I've never been comfortable enough to play an instrument on stage, but I'm learning piano right now. I want to be able to play well enough to be on stage doing it.
KM: You go in the studio today to record a new album. A Hard Rock album?
LG: I enjoy the incorporation of so many types of genres. My favorite band of all time is "The The" and I model a lot of my writing around them.
KM: You get to choose the players. Who are the players?
LG: Chris Roy, my bass player. He plays with a lot of great players. Dave Navarro on guitar. Drums, probably Jimmy Chamberlin, from The Smashing Pumpkins. If Bonham was alive, he'd by my first choice.
KM: Who was the love of your life?
LG: Nicolette Sheridan was probably the biggest love of my life. It was lust, passion, love at first sight, all of it. My last girlfriend, Elaine, was the one I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. She passed away about 20 years ago from the flu, and died in her sleep. I've really never gotten over her. She was really special. She was the last woman I was involved with.
KM: Is there anyone you see in the news, on social media, where you think to yourself, “Wow, that’s me 30 years ago, and you see his future, and want to pick up the phone and say, “Hey man, I know what you’re going through, I’ve been on that ride, I’m here to help if you want it.”
LG: For a while I thought about Justin Bieber. But, I think he's doing a lot better these days, not running around toilet papering people's homes. LOL. You know, I'd tell them, whoever it is, not to believe all your publicity because that will get you into trouble. You have to get really good people involved to help you with your finances, because choosing the wrong one can really destroy your life.
KM: Do you wish there was someone you could have really confided in as a kid, or as an adult, who could have helped you when you really needed the help?
LG: I wish I had had that person. There wasn't anyone I could really vent to at the time. Nobody could really understand what I was going through. I wasn't breaking things down like I should have, and I wish I could have. At this point, I'm interested in finding honesty and the truth. I have a few people I can confide in now.
KM: After all your own personal struggles, how do you get someone to take you seriously?
LG: I've been too honest at times, and a lot of it I should have kept to myself, and a few people I trusted. I guess these days, it's just walking the walk. That's what I'm doing, and I want to be judged in the present and not the past anymore.
KM: I saw a video of you on YouTube where you were on some Japanese show.
LG: Is that the one where I'm bald? LOL.
KM: Yeah, your head was completely shaved. Dude, you fucking pull that off! You and I have great shaped heads. Why don’t you shave it again?
LG: Yeah, thankfully I do have a good shaped head. LOL! Yeah, it was pretty weird. At first, no one really recognized me because I didn't have the long, curly hair. But, that's the image I portrayed for so much of my career, and that's in the past. I'm living in the now!
KM: Your biggest regret in life?
LG: Exposing too much of my private life to the world.
KM: Your proudest moment in life?
LG: Being inducted into The Cowboy Hall of Fame in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I was inducted for portraying a pony express rider for a movie of the week, Peter Lundy and the Medicine Hat Stallion.
KM: I would have never thought of that. That's pretty cool. If you could go back in time for 2 days, what days would those be and what would you change?
LG: The car accident I got in when I was younger. That would be the first one. Man, I can't think of another one.
KM: That's OK. You don't have to have another one. What do you do for fun?
LG: Besides Music, I actually still skateboard a lot and surf. I'll be 60 on November 8th but I still feel like I'm 18.
KM: Leif, this has been pretty cool. We'll help you celebrate your birthday in November. I want to thank Barbara Papageorge for helping to set this up to speak with you. Keep up the faith and my best to your mom.
LG: Thanks, Kreig. This has been really cool. Let's keep in contact.
Kreig Marks, Publisher / Founder TRR
Kreig Marks is the Founder/Publisher of Tru Rock Revival Magazine.
Rock music has always been his passion, and promoting musicians. In is spare time he is an internationally recognized neuro-fitness trainer/ kinesiologist.