Lady A’s Charles Kelley Opens Up About His Battle with Alcoholism 

Lady A’s Charles Kelley is speaking out about his battle with alcohol abuse. The hitmaker and his wife, Cassie McConnell sat down with Gayle King on CBS Mornings on Wednesday (May 10) to discuss his long journey to recovery. 

Videos by American Songwriter

Throughout the vulnerable interview, Charles reflects on his growth since seeking help and halting Lady A’s Request Line Tour. The initial run was slated to begin on Aug. 13, 2022, in Nashville – but was postponed.

The interview serves as the first time Kelley has shared his story at length publicly. He candidly reveals the resources that helped him stay sober, how he hit rock bottom, and how the addictive habit affected his son. Despite the dark past, he looks forward and feels hopeful for the future. 

Kelley revealed that he always “knew” he had a toxic relationship with alcohol because he would joke around with his band members and refer to himself as “a functioning alcoholic.” 

“I said, ‘I know I’m gonna have to stop at some point, but that’s not today,'” he explained. “That was always kind of my little joke. It was like, that tells you I kinda knew.” 

The singer said that Dave Haywood flagged his drinking problem five years ago. At the time, they noted that alcohol wasn’t affecting his performance, but the way he would approach them in conversations. 

“I think it was more just, ‘I’m worried about you.’ And to me, I think, if I remember correctly, it was more about how I would speak to them when I was drinking,” shared Kelley about the band’s dynamic. “I’d be very dismissive and very quick. There was never any physical stuff, but very emotional and verbal, I think, outbursts. I could recognize that was alcohol-induced.” 

His drinking was also leaving a negative impact on their son, Ward, 7. Kelley said that his little boy would pick up on certain signs, such as “talking funny” or when he would argue with McConnell. When Kelley recognized the negative mark he left on Ward, he said that he was “crushed.” At one point, McConnell contemplated getting a divorce. 

After multiple therapists encouraged the singer to check into a rehab facility, his life significantly turned around. He pointed out that he has several helpful “tools” that keep him on track – “group meetings with other alcoholics” and a “device” he frequently blows into. 

“What I learned is there are degrees of alcoholics,” he said. “That’s one of the things too that I want to even share is like, just because you’re not living on the street or you’re not waking up in a bush like some stories you may hear, it can get there. And it can get there really easily. It’s like no one that starts drinking starts at the top. It’s just this gradual thing.”

McConnell said that she’s “really proud” of the progress her husband has made thus far.

“It just makes me feel so grateful for how close I came to losing it all,” he uttered. “I think the thing that’s hard is to know how much it affected Cassie the most and my band. The people around me, and how much it emotionally kind of wrecked them for a while. That I can’t really say I’m sorry enough, and it’s just going to take time to rebuild that.” 

While going to group therapy with Lady A, the band resumed their tour and will be on the road until Oct. 28. 

Hodges Usry / Courtesy of Big Machine

Leave a Reply

Autopsy Confirms the Death of Kyle Jacobs