Tyler & Walsh On Getting Sober

In the new issue of GQ, several artists share their stories in an article titled "Creating While Clean." As the magazine puts it, "a diverse group of creative people articulate how their own lives veered off course, and about some of the ways they each found to correct that, and about what they believe they have learned about themselves and about living in the process." Here are some of the more interesting revelations from Steven Tyler, who says he has been sober for nine years, and Joe Walsh, clean for 25.

What scared you the most about getting sober?

Tyler: "I thought they were trying to brainwash me. I thought I would lose my creativity."

Walsh: "Everything. I thought sober people were like a cult who sold books at the airport. And I thought I would never be funny again. I would not be able to write music, I would not be able to play live in front of people—that was the big one. I didn’t know what sober was—I thought, “Well, I’m going to be boring and live in the suburbs and wear a tie and go to work every day and come home and go to sleep and get up and go to the office and, oh my God, this is going to be terrible.”

Do you worry about remaining sober?

Walsh: "No, I really don’t. I can just see it, clearer than anything: If I get going again, I won’t make it back. And I don’t want to do that. Life is too good."

Tyler: "I don’t worry. I know it’s possible. But I keep myself surrounded by the people that are, and I rely on them for things in my life."

Have you ever relapsed?

Walsh: "Never. I was done. It helps a lot if you’re done."

Tyler: "Oh, sure I have, yeah... I continue to partake in the 12-step program. I can be in Afghanistan, I can be in Japan, and go to a meeting and the room is full of alcoholics and people that did drugs like I did. Only nobody’s high. And, believe me, the stuff they say is phenomenal. They’re still crazy, they’re just not under the influence."

What did you do back then that you now can’t believe that you did?

Walsh: "When I was full of vodka, I’d have thoughts and—boom!—I would be doing it. I woke up one time coming out of a blackout, and I was on an airplane, descending to land in Charles de Gaulle Airport in France. And all I can think is: I must have decided it was a good idea to go to France, and got my passport, and got on a plane. I don’t remember any of that, but I remember waking up, going, 'What the hell happened?' I went to a hotel and slept for a day and a half and flew home. [laughs] I didn’t want to be in France!"

Tyler: "Oh, I went to Anguilla and I got thrown off the island by the police. And, you know, riding down the street on the windshield of a car stuff."

Mike Bell

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