Happy Birthday, Pete!: Pete Doherty actually turns 45 – with cheese and art instead of crack and disasters

For much of his career, Pete Doherty made a real art of celebrating his downfall.

Happy Birthday, Pete!: Pete Doherty actually turns 45 – with cheese and art instead of crack and disasters

For much of his career, Pete Doherty made a real art of celebrating his downfall. For him, art production and drug consumption always seemed inextricably linked; the effects of his decades-long heroin and crack addiction were reflected just as clearly in the chaotic stories of his bands The Libertines and Babyshambles as in his obligatory junkie dark circles under his eyes. The regular stays in rehab clinics were followed by relapses, and somewhere in between there were always a few new albums and concerts taking place. His highly publicized relationship with supermodel Kate Moss between 2005 and 2007 also fell victim to the rock musician's extreme lifestyle.

But since his 40th birthday, Doherty's fortunes have clearly turned. As he reported to the Mirror, he decided to finally stop using hard drugs at the end of 2019. He had previously managed to be arrested twice in Paris within 48 hours for drug offenses and "violence under the influence", the second time he was only wearing pajamas. In the end he narrowly escaped with a fine and a three-month suspended sentence. In an interview with Deutschlandfunk, he described the turning point as follows: "The Libertines tour ended at Christmas 2019 - that's when I came back here and collapsed. I'm still recovering from it. A lot has changed since then. I have Forsaken the hard drugs that had buried me socially, psychologically and physically for so many years."

To his own surprise, the eternal junkie has actually been clean for more than four years now. According to him, the fact that he goes through with it this time is partly because the extent of his self-destructive trip became too extreme at some point, even for him. “I really pushed the limits,” said the singer in the “Mirror”. "There were really a few close calls. I almost lost my feet and horrible things like that. It was very close, just because of the injections. That's what happens when you don't have veins anymore. It all seems so long ago now "But it was a hell of a ride."

Another reason is his new relationship with the musician Katia de Vidas, to whom he has been married since September 2021. The two know each other through Doherty's band The Puta Madres, in which de Vidas is the keyboardist. Their daughter Billie-May was born on May 31, 2023. Doherty has been living with his new little family in the French coastal town of Étretat in Normandy since 2020; his wife's parents own a property there with an impressive view over the bay.

“Love saved my life,” said the singer in the “Musikexpress”. "My wife mastered it, she saved my life in so many ways. What a wonderful thing." However, his wife also insisted that he had to stop using crack and heroin before they had a child. The big advantage of his new place of residence: "There are no drugs here in Étretat." To prevent him from getting one, he has lived without a cell phone for several years and stays away from social media. “Because I know what I am like,” says Doherty.

As a side effect of his abstinence from drugs, the singer, who used to be lanky, has gained a few kilos, which makes him look much healthier. In an interview with the "Guardian" in the summer of 2022, he gave clear clues about the cause of his blatant weight gain: "It's a little embarrassing, isn't it? But yeah, the cheese, man. The cheese in this area - the Brie, that Camembert. There's something special in the grass, you can taste it in the milk, it's different here, it's so creamy. I drink it by the liter. And the butter and the bread and the saucisson..."

Doherty's new lifestyle makes him more productive than ever before. In 2020, he opened a band-owned hotel called "The Albion Rooms" with his colleagues from The Libertines across the English Channel in the English coastal town of Margate. Located on the central Eastern Esplanade, the elegant, funky hostel also provided the title for the new Libertines album "All Quiet on The Eastern Esplanade", which was released on March 8, 2023. The fact that Doherty managed to produce another record with his old friend Carl Barât was considered a sensation. After all, the release of their last album “Anthems for Doomed Youth” was almost ten years ago.

In recent years, Doherty has also used his clear head for several projects that take a look back at the chaotic times that he has now put behind him for the time being. His autobiography “A Likely Lad” kicked off in 2022, in which he takes a critical inventory of his drug excesses, career highlights and love stories. In several exhibitions, including in Berlin and Düsseldorf, he presented a showcase of his works of art created over the past decades, including some pictures that he painted with his own blood at the height of his junkie era.

Another retrospective is the film documentary "Stranger in my own skin", released at the end of 2023, for which Doherty's current wife Katia De Vidas accompanied the musician with the camera over a period of ten years. The film primarily documents Doherty's last major battle against seemingly invincible drug addiction; the filmmaker was also present during a rehabilitation treatment in a Thai monastery. The documentary ends naturally at the point when Doherty and De Vidas finally became a couple - and the musician finally swapped crack for Camembert in their new French home.