Lily Allen dominated the airwaves in the mid-to-late 2000s. With hits like “Smile,” “The Fear,” and “Alfie” — penned for her younger brother and Game of Thrones star, Alfie Allen — Lily was inescapable. With that fame, however, came the dangerous pitfalls of being a celebrity.
“I’m surprised I’m not dead,” the singer quipped to The Guardian in 2019. “The music industry was a hedonistic place in the noughties. It was all about having fun and getting f**ked up. People who indulge don’t generally come out the other side,” she added. So, what happened to the British crooner? Well, for starters, it appears she’s never had that easy of a life.
Born into the turbulent yet creative Allen family, Lily’s childhood wasn’t exactly conventional. As she grew up and carved her own path as a successful pop star, tragedy only seemed to follow her, and at one point, it appears that she embraced it, too. “I was pretty brazen with all my behavior,” she told The Guardian in a separate interview. “I think I just didn’t care.” It appears she’s since calmed down, focusing on living a clean life and having married Stranger Things actor David Harbour in 2020. That being said, it’s taken a while for her to get there. Here are the tragic details about Lily Allen.
Her father left the family when she was four
Lily Allen was born into an industry family. Her father is actor and comedian Keith Allen, while her mom, Alison Owen, is a producer, having worked on notable projects such as Elizabeth and Shaun of the Dead. And while you think this would be a fantastic setting for Lily to nurture her creative talents, that wasn’t exactly the case. In fact, it’s Keith that apparently left a pretty bad example on his children.
“I grew up going to Glastonbury [festival] and the Groucho Club,” the singer wrote in her 2018 memoir, My Thoughts Exactly, adding, “My dad was part of the Britpop scene, getting publicly loaded with his friends.” As she later mused, “My truth is that I didn’t feel nurtured as a child.” As it turns out, it wasn’t just Lily that was feeling neglected. “We weren’t a family that did things together,” she recalled in her book. Keith ultimately walked out on the family when Lily was just four, and as The Guardian noted, when he actually had a chance to see his kids, “he would plonk them in a room at the Groucho Club while he got smashed in the bar downstairs.”
Even as an adult, it appears that Lily still searched for her dad’s approval. As she wrote in her memoir, “I spent years trying to shout, Dad! I’m here … Whatever I did, however successful or however messy I became, either way, I couldn’t get my dad to pay me attention.”
Lily Allen's mother began regularly taking drugs
While it’s Lily Allen’s father, Keith Allen, who ditched the family while his daughter was still a young child, her mother, Alison Owen, had her own demons to battle. According to the singer’s memoir, My Thoughts Exactly, after her dad left, Owen began seeing comedian Harry Enfield, whom Lily describes as not only “successful and well-off,” but “kind,” as well. The Guardian explained that the relationship “brought a period of stability,” yet, like many things in Lily’s story, the phase didn’t last long.
According to the “Smile” crooner’s book, Owen and Enfield “were together for about five years,” yet the producer was often on set. While Owen was away, “She started taking drugs with one of her closest friends,” keeping her secret away from Enfield. Eventually, she couldn’t separate her two lives and brought the chaos home. As Lily wrote, “I came home from school one day and she was in her bedroom with empty vodka and pill bottles all around her.” Not knowing what to do, the future star phoned Enfield for help.
With the Shaun of the Dead producer causing trouble at home, combined with Lily’s older sister’s teenage rebellion, Enfield had finally had enough. “I think Harry was patient for years,” Lily wrote in her memoir. “But he reached a point where he gave my mum an ultimatum.” Unfortunately, the pair broke up in 1996, and Lily — along with the rest of her family — moved out of his home.
She had an eating disorder at the height of her career
When Lily Allen burst onto the pop scene in 2006 with her debut single, “Smile,” she was inescapable. In 2011, NME listed it as one of the “150 best tracks of the past 15 years,” it spawned a bizarre Sims version (which Allen herself recorded), and it made it all the way up to No. 1 on Billboard‘s UK charts. If that’s not all, the song is proving to be catchy with younger generations, too, having gone viral on TikTok in 2020.
As Allen would reveal years after the track’s release, however, she felt the pressures of fame — and they manifested in an eating disorder. Writing in her 2018 memoir, My Thoughts Exactly (via E!), Allen explained, “It started with bulimia. I began making myself sick as attention heated up with my second album. In my case, it was a direct result of having my body constantly scrutinized.”
Although Allen’s eating disorder garnered the most attention after her book’s release, she shed light on it in 2010, too. Giving fans a glimpse into her life on the Channel 4 doc, Lily Allen: Riches to Rags, she revealed (via the Daily Mail), “A lot of people used to come up to me and tell me how great I looked. And I was on the cover of every magazine with them saying ‘Lily is looking amazing — look how much weight she has lost.'” Reflecting further, Allen noted, “But I wasn’t happy, I really wasn’t.”
Lily Allen delivered a stillborn son
Lily Allen’s journey to motherhood hasn’t been easy. In fact, it started with an abundance of turmoil and grief — when she delivered her stillborn son, George, in 2010.
As E! recapped her memoir, My Thoughts Exactly, it was during “an internal examination [that] a specialist told Allen her cervix was ‘already dilated,’ which meant she was technically in labor at 28 weeks and two days into her pregnancy.” After being rushed to the hospital, the singer “had emergency surgery to ‘have a stitch put in to help hold [her] cervix together.'” After just over a week, Allen felt the stitch “go ping,” and suddenly, she was rushed to the hospital — and went into labor for the entire night.
As Allen wrote (via Goodreads), “In the morning the midwife said, ‘You’re crowning. We can see the baby’s head. Not long now.'” While the star had no idea how much time had passed, she remembers the midwife telling her, “‘The cord is wrapped around the baby’s neck. There was a pulse. Now there isn’t. There is no pulse now.'” After a horrific day-long, drug-filled labor, Allen finally gave birth. “We’d had our little babe and he was in our arms; it’s just that he wasn’t alive,” the “Not Fair” crooner explained. “Then the doctors put me to sleep. In the morning, we were discharged. The hospital needed the bed.”
The singer didn't feel 'human' during the delivery of her son
Lily Allen’s truly traumatic delivery of her stillborn son, George, in 2010, wasn’t just physically exhausting, but mentally, too. As she detailed in her book, My Thoughts Exactly (via Goodreads), while the midwife told Allen that her son was dead before she had even given birth, they still had to get him out. “I could feel his little head between my legs. But my contractions weren’t strong enough to push him all the way out,” she wrote. “The doctors told me they couldn’t pull him out with forceps or use a ventouse because doing that would rip him apart. He was too small, too underdeveloped for those things.”
The solution? Copious amounts of drugs and many, many hours of labor. “My baby was dead. I couldn’t escape the enormity of that. He was physically stuck, not quite outside me, not safe inside, either,” Allen explained, before detailing a genuinely bizarre experience: “For ten hours between my baby dying and me getting him out, I entered a realm I’d never been to before. It is a realm I cannot describe or revisit, even if I wanted to.” Describing herself as feeling “not human,” the doctors finally put her to sleep after she gave birth.
Thankfully, Allen would eventually have a happy ending, giving birth the following year to a healthy baby girl, Ethel. In 2013, she had a daughter again, Marnie Rose.
Lily Allen lives with PTSD
After her son George’s death in 2010, Lily Allen felt a psychological burden — and it seems it may have had lasting effects. As she told her followers on Twitter (via the Daily Mail) in 2017 after someone questioned her mental health, “I DO have mental health issues. Bi-polar, postnatal depression, and PTSD, does that make my opinion void?” As the British tab noted, “She later explained to her 5.9 million followers that her PTSD occurred after her son was stillborn.”
Heartbreakingly enough, in 2019, during an intimate chat with The Guardian, Allen revealed that she ended up in the psychiatric ward for three months. “[It] wasn’t a positive experience at the time, but I came out of it slightly healthier than when I went [in],” she explained, adding, “I’d been trying to harm myself so I was under close supervision.”
Thankfully, since having her two daughters, Ethel and Marnie Rose, it looks like Allen has figured out a way to cope. “Your life is not yours anymore [after having children], simple as that,” she explained to People in 2018. “Your freedom is gone — in a beautiful way … I’ve never really been good socially; in fact, that’s probably why I drank and did drugs back in the day … actually, having kids has really helped me with that. It’s forced me to learn about how humans interact with each other in its most basic form.”
She's struggled with substance abuse
Lily Allen didn’t hold back in her 2018 memoir, My Thoughts Exactly. Even as early as in the introduction, she shockingly revealed, “Drugs and alcohol have been part of my white noise — always around me — for as long as I can remember.” Although she explained that she’s abused both “sometimes to excess,” she doesn’t consider herself a “recovering alcoholic or drug addict.”
It’s an interesting claim, as Allen also discussed a highly embarrassing incident during Kate Hudson’s Halloween party in 2014. As the singer revealed (via E!), she found herself flirting with Orlando Bloom and sat “on his lap straddling him.” She continued, “When I tried to lean in closer to his face, my head hit his and then hit something hard behind him. The hard thing knocked me out. I was very drunk.” Yup, you heard us correctly: Lily Allen headbutted the Pirates of the Caribbean star.
Thankfully, another A-list celeb was there to help out: Chris Martin. “Chris drove me back to the Santa Monica house and in my derangement, I thought he’d taken me to a hospital,” Allen wrote. “… In the morning I found a Post-it note with his telephone number he’d left stuck up on the fridge. ‘Lily,’ it read. ‘Chris. Call me.'” As the singer told The Guardian, she ended up seeing the Coldplay frontman, who staged a little intervention and took her for a walk. As of January 2021, Allen posted to Instagram that she’s “18 months clean and sober.”
Lily Allen's partying really 'escalated' with Miley Cyrus
It’s no secret the sort of wild behavior Miley Cyrus got up to during her Bangerz era. As Rolling Stone so succinctly put it during a review of her album in 2013, “Bangerz is the sound of Hannah Montana gone Miami Vice.” Throughout all the incessant twerking, tongue-wagging, and riding a wrecking ball completely nude, Cyrus said goodbye to Disney and hello to adulthood. Yet that’s the sort of exact party lifestyle that may be triggering for some — as was the case with Lily Allen.
As she wrote in her memoir, My Thoughts Exactly, five years later (via E!), “Things escalated in the late summer when I joined Miley Cyrus on her Bangerz tour.” After praising Cyrus’ professionalism, the singer continued, “After each show, whenever we were in the US, I’d hit a strip club. It became my thing on that tour — a way to come down, and somewhere to go so I didn’t have to experience the loneliness of a random hotel room.”
Years later, in 2021, Allen revealed details of the tour even more to DJ Fat Tony’s The Recovery YouTube channel, and they were definitely concerning. “It was [a] very highly sexualized tour and … I was supporting this girl that was much younger and more attractive than I felt, and I just started acting out in all manner of ways.” Thankfully, as soon as Allen started considering heroin, she decided it was time to head into a recovery program.
With her marriage falling apart, she coped with her loneliness by turning to 'female escorts'
Naturally, with Lily Allen’s constant partying during the Sheezus album era in 2014, her marriage to then-hubby Sam Cooper took a hit. In fact, the marriage itself seemed hurried — something that The Guardian noted — after the birth of Allen’s stillborn son, George, in 2010. As the outlet explained, after giving birth to her two daughters, the singer realized “she had taken too many years off from being a pop star and couldn’t afford the crippling dream house mortgage anymore.”
With the release of Sheezus, Allen didn’t garner the same rave attention she was used to, so the tour to support the album wasn’t exactly a healthy environment. “I slept with female escorts when I was on tour, cause I was lost and lonely and looking for something. I’m not proud, but I’m not ashamed,” the singer told her Instagram followers in September 2018.
She elaborated further on the Aussie TV show, The Project (via People), sharing, “It’s more about a period of time when I was feeling incredibly lonely and sort of at my wits’ end and I was looking for anything, looking for an outlet, so it is not really like a salacious sex story.” Allen added, “It is more about hotel rooms … and being on my own and being very far away from my kids and my husband.”
Lily Allen drove her marriage into the ground, leading to her divorce
In January 2021, during a chat with DJ Fat Tony on The Recovery, Lily Allen explained that after getting sober in 2014 (when she came home from her Bangerz tour with Miley Cyrus), she ultimately ended up relapsing again. “At six months, I started drinking again and almost instantly I lost everything.”
As The Guardian detailed, this coincided with going on tour for her Sheezus album, where she missed “scheduled FaceTime calls” with her husband and children “because she was getting low, and also because she was getting high.” Soon enough, “Bandmates and managers started quitting in droves, and eventually Allen became … deranged.”
Naturally, Allen’s husband, Sam Cooper, had enough. “I lost my marriage … my career started just sinking, and I lost all my friends … I was so resentful,” the crooner recalled to DJ Fat Tony. By 2015, she and Cooper broke up “while sitting in a dark corner of their favourite Italian restaurant,” per The Guardian, where “he made her tell him about every single infidelity, because he needed to hear it all.” Allen opened up about her divorce during a chat with People in 2018, saying, “It was really sad … I think it was the right decision and it was necessary, and ultimately, I just want to make a safe and secure environment for my kids, and that was ironically the best way of doing that.”
Amid her split from her husband, Lily Allen was dealt more tragedies
Going through a split with the father of your children is already stressful enough, yet Lily Allen was dealt even more heartbreaking blows. As The Guardian noted, “By November 2015 she was trying to sort her life out alone,” and scheduled a meeting “with a man who for legal reasons she calls Record Industry Executive.” Although the man claimed he wanted “to help her get clean,” Allen “had a bad feeling.” Nonetheless, since Allen believed her meetings also involved work, she met up with him again, yet “drink was involved, and [she] woke up to find him trying to have sex with her in a hotel room.”
Attempted sexual assault is frightening enough, yet that same year, in October, another man (who stalked Allen since 2008) “broke into her house while she and her children were in bed” and threatened her with a knife (via The Guardian). His reasoning? He claimed he wrote Allen’s 2008 hit, “The Fear.” Speaking to The Guardian about the incident, Allen revealed, “It has affected how I live my life … I have trust issues. It impacts on your relationships, everything.”
Thankfully, the British singer has been able to move on from all her ordeals and has come out stronger. “[My children] seem like they’re on a good path, and I’m in a really happy relationship, a really healthy relationship [with Stranger Things actor David Harbour],” Allen told DJ Fat Tony on The Recovery in 2021.
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