How Queen Got Leif Garrett High (and Laid)
The life of Leif Garrett is nothing short of fascinating.
Beginning his career as a child actor, the budding star became a teen idol in the '70s thanks to roles on hit TV shows like The Waltons and Three for the Road. Later in the decade, he transitioned to music, scoring hit singles with pop versions of “Runaround Sue” and “Surfing U.S.A.,” along with the original tune “I Was Made for Dancin’.”
Garrett continued recording music, touring and occasionally acting throughout the next two decades. Like many stars before him, the singer fell into the world of illicit drugs. Multiple arrests followed, along with several stints in rehab.
Garrett has assembled many stories from throughout his life in a new memoir, Idol Truth. The book, co-written with Chris Epting, offers an unfiltered look at the star’s roller-coaster career.
“I’m writing now because I think I can finally make sense of what happened to me over the years,” Garett said in a press release. “I’ve thought about it for a long time, but I just needed the right amount of distance from all these events. This will be a book about what it’s like to be transformed into an object of insane desire and adoration. But it’s also a book about a little kid that just wanted a normal family. It’s about the ravages of drug addiction. And celebrity culture. It’s about lost youth, trying to be an artist and also fighting for control of one’s own life. It’s not all going to be pretty, but it’s going to be honest.”
In the excerpt reprinted below, Garrett recalls meeting the rock band he idolized, Queen. Through a chance encounter with legendary frontman Freddie Mercury, the teen idol found himself hanging on multiple occasions with one of the biggest bands on Earth -- and enjoying the sex and drugs that accompanied their world.
I loved the band Queen when I was a teenager (still do). In the spring of 1980 I was flying to Munich, Germany, in first class with my manager, off to do some TV show. Seated right across from us were Andy Gibb and his manager. Andy and I were both experiencing similar realities at that point in time: We were red-hot pop stars, at the apex of pinup fame. The girls loved us, and we were both experiencing success on the record charts. We made some small talk in the plush sanctuary that was first class, and once we landed in Germany, we realized we were both staying at the same hotel. The cars that were waiting for both of us pretty much drove in tandem to the hotel, and shortly after that as we were at the front desk, checking in together, I heard a loud ding announcing that an elevator had arrived. I looked across the lobby, and there they were, sauntering off the elevator and spilling out into the lobby: Brian May, John Deacon, Roger Taylor and the flamboyant, incomprehensibly talented lead singer, Freddie Mercury. I’d met and hung out with a lot of cool people by this point, but I was still awed. This was fucking Queen.
They strolled past us, and then something crazy happened. Freddie Mercury cast his dark, exotic eyes upon me, gazing up and down lasciviously and practically licking his chops. Then he did the same to Andy. He was looking at both of us like we were the main course and dessert. Talk about a moment. He sashayed away and that was that. Or was it?
I finished checking in, got up to my suite and, before I even dropped my bags, noticed that the red light on the phone was blinking, indicating that I already had a message. That’s weird. I’ve just barely checked in. Who could be leaving me a message so quickly?
I called down to the front desk, and the woman said to me in a thick German accent, “Mr. Freddie Mercury has just left an envelope here for you.” Well, okay then!
I headed right back downstairs and, sure enough, there was a manila envelope for me. I opened it up and discovered a half a gram of cocaine and an invitation to go to the studio that night to watch the band record. He had left the exact same thing for Andy Gibb as well.
So, that night after dinner, Andy Gibb and I headed over to Musicland Studios, the mythical basement studio founded by the legendary Italian record producer Giorgio Moroder. Everybody from the Stones to Elton John to Zeppelin had recorded there. And it’s where Queen was in the process of recording what would become the monstrously successful 1980 album The Game (which featured the hits “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” and “Another One Bites the Dust”).
We settled in with the band, kicking back in the lounge while they took a break from recording. We did the blow that Freddie had so generously left for us, and then, incredibly, Andy and I were invited into the studio, placed behind a microphone (with Freddie!) to add some background vocals. Are you kidding me? Freddie made no more overtures toward us, but what a memory he gave us. And my experiences with Queen didn’t end there. I stayed in touch with the guys, and we kind of became friends.
A few months later, they were on the road promoting the new album, and they had sold out three nights at the Forum in Los Angeles. Their drummer, Roger Taylor, rang me once the band had arrived in town and invited me to the show. I was excited. I’d never seen Queen live and had always wanted to. I arrived at the Forum and right away was taken down to the exclusive Forum Club, where a bunch of other celebrities and friends of the band were hanging out before the show, eating, drinking and doing drugs. Roger came and found me and took me out of the room. “I want you to meet somebody,” he said with an inviting grin. “Come with me.”
We headed downstairs to where the band’s dressing rooms were backstage, and he walked me into one of the rooms. It was empty except for a gorgeous and sexy blonde woman in a midriff crop top and hiked-up skirt, sitting by herself. “Candy,” Roger said, “this is Leif. Leif, I’d like you to meet Candy.” We said a little hello to each other, and then Roger added, “Candy, please take care of Leif,” before leaving the room and shutting the door on his way out.
And take care of me, Candy did. That was my first real experience with a true, experienced groupie. I mean, up until that point I had been with a lot of women, but it was usually fans of mine or their mothers, along with actresses, models or other celebrities. But this was a whole other level. Another league. This was like professional rock ’n’ roll, and it blew me away (every bit of pun intended).