Music

Midge Ure on alcoholism and recovery: ‘After I saw my daughter’s reaction, I never touched it again’

Midge Ure has talked openly about how alcohol changed him for the worse and how his family helped him confront his addiction.

Midge Ure has opened up about the impact of his alcoholism

Midge Ure. Image: supplied

Midge Ure, the Scottish singer-songwriter behind Band Aid, Live Aid and a string of hits through the ‘80s and ‘90s, has revealed that a look of horror from his young daughter forced him to seek help for alcoholism.

Ure previously admitted his struggles with alcoholism in his 2004 autobiography If I Was. But in an interview published in The Big Issue’s Letter To My Younger Self, he expanded on both the effect the condition had on him and how he found his path to recovery.

The Ultravox singer spoke frankly about how constant drinking changed him from “not a bad guy to hang out with” to “somebody I wouldn’t hang out if he was the last person on the planet”. 

“You lie and you cheat and you deny, and all of those things,” he said. “And I really didn’t like who I had become. I was a complete dick.” 

Ure had already written hits for Thin Lizzy and Visage before Ultravox’s Vienna became one of the biggest selling records of the early ‘80s.

He went on to make history in 1984 when he collaborated with Bob Geldof to write Band Aid’s Do They Know it’s Christmas?, raising money for people affected by the Ethiopian famine. The record sold 3.7 million copies in the UK. The pair went on to organise the world-famous Live Aid concerts in 1985. It is now estimated that around £150 million in total has been raised for famine relief as a direct result of the concerts.

But at the same time, Ure was struggling. He described to The Big Issue how his affable front covered up his increasing problematic alcoholism. 

“Drinking went hand in hand with the life. It’s an insidious drug, and you just become accustomed to it,” he recalled. “You’d do your soundcheck, then you’d set up a drink before you went on, and then you’d have more drinks afterwards. And you’d do the same again the next day and keep doing it. But then you start crossing the line you said you would never ever cross. Drinking during the day, drinking on your own. And before you realise it, you can’t stop it.” 

Though Ure had been told by medical professionals he would die if he kept drinking, it was his family – and in particular his young daughter – who convinced him to finally seek the help he needed.

“I could see the damage I was doing but it still didn’t knock me into shape,” he said. “It wasn’t until my 10-year-old daughter caught me with a bottle, sitting outside my car. Her face was horrific. All of a sudden, I wasn’t that knight in shining armour, that invincible character anymore. I was just this wreck.”

Ure also paid tribute to his second wife, actor Sheridan Forbes, who confronted and supported him.

“Fortunately I had a very strong wife who kicked me into place. I went to rehab but it didn’t work; I didn’t listen to them because obviously, I knew better than they did,” he said. “But after I saw my daughter’s reaction that was it. I never touched it again.”

Read Midge Ure’s full Letter to My Younger Self interview – including his regrets around a missed opportunity with Kate Bush – in The Big Issue, out from 24 July.

Midge Ure’s ‘Celebrating 7 Decades: A Life in Music’ takes place at London Royal Albert Hall, 4 October. Tickets: royalalberthall.com . The Gift Deluxe Edition will be released by Chrysalis on 22 September

The Big Issue magazine exists to give homeless, long-term unemployed and marginalised people the opportunity to earn an income. To support our work, buy a copy! If you cannot reach your local vendor, click HERE to subscribe to The Big Issue today. Or give a gift subscription. You can also purchase one-off issues from The Big Issue Shop or The Big Issue app, available from the App Store or Google Play.

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