70's Star Leif Garrett: 'I Was a Monster'

"GMA" talks to Leif Garrett, 30 years post stardom.

October 19, 2010, 8:06 PM

Oct. 19, 2010 — -- Before there was Bieber and before Timberlake took off, there was a 1970s doe-eyed pop star whose spandex pants, satin shirts and silky hair were plastered across the bedroom walls of teenage girls all across America.

Leif Garrett was a superstar. He played to sold-out stadiums of screaming girls, proving he was made for dancing with his 1979 hit, "I Was Made for Dancing."

But that was Leif Garrett then. Today, 30 years since his heyday, we caught up with him in Los Angeles, where he was rehearsing his new song, "Symptoms," for a new tour he plans to launch. But many still come to hear him play the oldies.

Garrett still bears the emotional scars from years of pretending to be the golden boy the whole world wanted him to be.

"When you are in the thick of it, you think, 'Oh, this is going to be forever. I am god,'" Garrett said.

But it didn't last forever. He soon fell hard into drugs and alcohol.

"I was a monster," he said. "I'm sorry that actions that I've done have hurt people."

Just shy of his 18th birthday, when high on alcohol and quaaludes, he crashed his car, paralyzing a friend. When asked if it still haunts him, Garrett replied, "I have really -- and wow, I don't think I have ever spoken about this before ... I have really hardcore nightmares and sleep issues."

Garrett reportedly settled that case for several million dollars, but he said it became the catalyst for an addiction to heroin. He has been charged twice for possession of heroin, once earlier this year.

"I think part of my drug use was that I didn't want to get older," Garrett said. "I wanted to stay that rebellious 18-year-old, just thinking I was superman or, you know, indestructible. But things catch up to you. Fame is a drug not only to oneself but to others as well."

Garrett began his career at the age of 5, but his parents were ill-equipped for the kind of fame that followed.

"My mom didn't understand, you know. It was partially her fault," Garrett said. "You don't allow a 14 or 15-year-old kid to go on the road without parental guidance. The bartenders knew who I was, knew how old I was, but no one said no."

Leif Garrett to Return to Recovery

Garrett made millions of dollars, but said he never saw most of it.

"I was completely ripped off badly," Garrett said. "I saw very little of it."

He said he is struggling to fight his demons. Next week he begins court-ordered treatment at an outpatient facility, his second attempt at recovery this year.

"Since I have been out of rehab, I have had a cocktail," Garrett said. "But I don't go out and get drunk out of my mind. And I haven't gone to use drugs so ... some people say it is [a slippery slope]. Some people say it's not. I am going to live my life as me."

When asked what is missing in his life, Garrett replied, "Love right now, like a significant other. You can only love others if you love yourself. And I'm -- I'm -- I'm learning to love myself."

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