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Justin Furstenfeld: Why We Felt Compelled To Ask For Proof Of His Mental Illness

Furstenfeld as Class Favorite at his Heights middle school
Furstenfeld as Class Favorite at his Heights middle school

The interview with Blue October's Justin Furstenfeld had long been set. After overcoming some misgivings on the part of his management over some stuff I had written in the past, it was decided that I would get to spend an hour backstage with the platinum-selling frontman between sound check and showtime at his triumphal homecoming gig May 15 at the Showgrounds.

I was in the process of planning the interview when while riding the bus one morning I came across a fresh interview in the Houston Chronicle. The story opened with Furstenfeld dropping a prescription pill bottle in front of interviewer Andrew Dansby, and then sweeping it back into his pocket. He also stated in the article that "everybody" knew that he had been depressed "his whole life."

That was not what I had heard from people who knew him long ago. The Furstenfeld they remembered from Hamilton Middle School and High School for the Performing and Visual Arts was happy-go-lucky and a ladies' man -- an athlete and even something of a schoolyard bully. If he had his adolescent squabbles with his parents -- especially his dad -- they were no more dramatic than any of us had.

A source had also told me some tantalizing information about the exact nature of at least one of Furstenfeld's stays in a mental hospital -- information that completely contradicted the band's official bio -- and there was evidence that seemed to support that story in published reports still on the Internet.

It all fed in to my decision to put word to Furstenfeld -- through first his publicist and then his manager -- that I would need to see documented evidence of the exact nature of his mental illness. I wanted to know if he suffered from depression, bipolar disorder, or even schizophrenia, for in various published reports and interviews over the years, Furstenfeld had been described, and often described himself, as suffering from each of those disorders, and sometimes several of them combined.

The publicist forwarded my request to his manager, who told me I was way, way out of line, and that the interview was off, and that he doubted he would even tell Furstenfeld of my request.

But he did.

And the result is "Little Boy Blue," this week's cover story.


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