Leif Garrett: The Teen Heartthrob Who Deserved More

Leif Garrett, the former teen idol, is an artist and performer who deserves more credit than he receives. Throughout his career, he experienced extreme highs and lows. Unfortunately, his struggles with drug addiction became a crutch that ultimately resulted in the downfall of his once-promising career.

At 61 years old, Leif Garrett may not be what he used to be, but let’s take a moment to appreciate the heartthrob he once was. Starting as a child actor, he captured the hearts of young women in the 1970s when he ventured into the world of music. I remember my mom telling me how she would see his face on all the teen magazine covers at the checkout lanes of the grocery store.

Leif Garrett was born in Hollywood, California, and his journey to stardom began at the age of 5 when he appeared in the movie Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice in 1969. This film quickly became one of the highest-grossing films of the year, setting the stage for Leif’s future success. He then went on to feature in the film Walking Tall and its two sequels, captivating audiences with his sleepy eyes and flaxen hair. In 1983, he joined a star-studded cast, including Matt Dillon, C. Thomas Howell, Patrick Swayze, and Tom Cruise, in Francis Ford Coppola’s The Outsiders.

In addition to his film roles, Leif Garrett also made appearances in popular TV series such as Family, The Odd Couple (1974), Wonder Woman (1978), and CHiPs (1979).

But it was in 1977 that Leif Garrett released his first album, simply titled Leif Garrett. His fans went wild for his covers of popular songs like “The Wanderer” by Dion, “Surfin’ USA” by The Beach Boys, and Paul Anka’s “Put Your Head on My Shoulder”. Be it his music or his charming stage presence, Leif Garrett had the world at his feet. I can’t help but remember the time he described being flown into a theater in Sydney, Australia by helicopter, only to jump into an armored car and drive in through the back door because his fans were so enthusiastic that they almost tipped over a limousine he had previously used. It’s moments like these that show the kind of adrenalin-fueled frenzy his fans experienced whenever they saw him.

However, despite his success on the charts, Leif Garrett struggled with management that made him feel like a “fraud.” The transition into adulthood was also challenging for him. In his own words, “I think I was a good performer from the get-go, but I wish they had offered me singing lessons before ever making a record and doing the typical punching in a sentence here or there or words or whatever.” He believed that some of his tracks didn’t even sound like him, causing him to question his own authenticity as an artist.

As the years went on, Leif Garrett’s personal life began to take a toll on his career. In 1979, he crashed a car while under the influence, leaving his close friend paralyzed. This incident marked the beginning of a downward spiral for him. In 1980, he found himself living a wild lifestyle of sex, drugs, and rock and roll with the legendary frontman of Queen, Freddie Mercury. This was a time filled with constant partying, and Leif Garrett’s fame only seemed to fuel his self-destructive behavior.

Throughout his tumultuous journey, Leif Garrett faced numerous legal issues and struggled to find his way back to the top. He dropped out of rehab, had run-ins with the police, and even appeared on shows like World’s Dumbest as a commentator, chronicling “the most amazingly stupid” criminals. Eventually, he reluctantly joined VH1’s Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew, accusing the show of pushing him to relapse for the sake of drama. Despite his turbulent experiences, Leif Garrett acknowledges the unwavering support of his dedicated fan base. He believes that his lack of parental guidance during his early years contributed to his struggles and bad decision-making.

Leif Garrett’s story serves as a cautionary tale of the perils of fame and the importance of guidance and support. As we remember him today, let’s appreciate the talented artist he was and the impact he had on the hearts of young women everywhere. Leif Garrett may not have received all the credit he deserved, but his music and charm will always be a part of his legacy.