The Untold Truth Of Brendon Urie

Brendon Urie is Panic! at the Disco — literally, the band is now a solo project — and his fame has never been hotter. The charming rocker helped form the band in 2004, and he has been wowing fans ever since the release of the smash single "I Write Sins Not Tragedies." Panic! at the Disco's more recent releases have been even more successful than their early stuff, and it is not uncommon to hear Panic! songs like "Hey Look Ma, I Made It" on mainstream radio. Urie himself is a popular figure, in no short part due to his quirky personality. For instance, as Coup de Main magazine noted, as a nod to a music video moment where he uses a potato as a weapon, Urie began mailing potatoes with his face on them to fans.

In addition to his fan-focused approach, Urie is also notable for his incredible vocal range, his ability to play multiple instruments, and his flamboyant stage presence. Urie is a fan of all things dramatic, and this has also spilled over to his fashion sense. At various points in his career, Urie has relied heavily on eyeliner, sequin jackets, animal print shirts, leather pants, and just about every other showy pattern, material, or item you can think of. So, how exactly did Urie get from churchgoing Mormon to rowdy rockstar with a penchant for kissing his bandmates, walking around naked, and speaking up about human rights? Here is the untold truth of Panic! at the Disco's Brendon Urie.

He was musical from a young age

Brendon Urie was born in St. George, Utah, and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada. By the age of three, he was already showing signs of his future career. In a chat with Kerrang!, he recalled exhibiting musicality through his penchant for banging on various kitchen utensils to a beat. "My mom says that the rhythm was always inside my head, and I just had to get it out," he told the outlet. Playing music was an important creative release from an early age, and he wasted no time cultivating his natural musical talents. As he said in Rolling Stone, "It was just a way of trying to be creative and trying to let loose all this pent-up energy that I had."

In addition to picking up drumming, Urie got into piano when he was still in kindergarten. In the aforementioned Kerrang! interview, he said he learned to play songs by ear rather than through any formal training. He also credited a Disney series called "Fun with Music" with shaping his relationship to music and song. "A guy would have a conversation, and another guy would play the saxophone to the sound of talking," he recalled. "It was more about music being a discussion, rather than a genre."

He grew up Mormon but rebelled as a teen

Religion was a huge part of Brendon Urie's upbringing, and something that has deeply informed his life and music. Urie grew up as a member of the Mormon Church, wherein he was expected to abide by a number of rules. As Paper noted, Panic! at the Disco began performing at church, and Urie's mother had a hard line that each member of the band needed to be in long pants and a dress shirt before they took the stage. Urie was anything but your typical Mormon teenager, and his rebellious nature leaned into a number of forbidden behaviors. For instance, as he told HuffPost, he began drinking alcohol at 12 years old, and then picked up pot. "Then I started delivering weed to people, like a middle man. It was part of my life pretty early on," he said in the interview.

In an interview with People, he recalled being a theatre geek and building sets while stoned. Sex was also on the table, and teenage Urie was even partaking in threesomes. Interestingly, Urie often confessed these sins to his mom and dad. "It would eat me up to hide things from my parents, so every six months I would call a family meeting and be like, 'Okay guys, in the last six months I have been smoking weed, dealing drugs, f**ing promiscuously, sneaking out staying at friends houses.' I would just drop bombs on them," he told Paper.

He identifies as an atheist

Though Brendon Urie grew up in a Mormon family, he told Paper in 2018 he identifies as both an atheist and non-religious. When he was 17 years old, he leveled with his parents about where he stands with religion and what his future held. "Just sitting at our table and just saying, 'I'm going to be totally honest with you guys, I'm pretty sure I'm atheist. I definitely don't want to be a part of your religion, I'm not going to college, and I'm not going on a mission for your church. I'm going to be a part of this band,'" he recalled to the outlet. Unsurprisingly, this life plan did not line up with his parents' hopes for him.

In a chat with GQ, Urie shared that his mom cried at the revelation. In fact, she became so distraught that she decided to kick her son out of the house — but the icing him out did not last longer than a month. "I get this care package from home with my favorite snack from home — homemade orange rolls my mom used to make — with a letter from my mom in summation saying we love you so much and we'll never stop supporting you," he explained to GQ. Interestingly, a very large number of Panic! songs deal with themes of religion. You can take the guy out of the church, but that doesn't mean the church won't be in the guy's music. 

Brendon Urie has long been a queer icon

Brendon Urie has always been open about experimenting with his sexuality, but he typically identified himself as straight in most early interviews. For instance, in a 2013 interview for Pride Source, Urie said, "I find myself being attracted to dudes all the time." But in that same interview, he identified as straight despite some previous experimentation. By 2018, he had changed course and it became front-page news when Urie came out as pansexual in an interview for Paper. Urie became a queer icon long before this declaration, however. Many of the posts on the "Thank You Brendon" Instagram account are from fans who credit Urie with increasing their comfort with their own queerness.

In the aforementioned Paper chat, Urie spoke of having a "stage gay" persona, wherein he would dress flamboyantly, try to kiss his bandmates, and play with perceptions of masculinity and femininity. 

He is also outspoken about LGBT issues, to the point that the Westboro Baptist Church even condemned him. When they protested a Kansas City concern, Panic! at the Disco donated $20 per protestor to the Human Rights Campaign, a queer not-for-profit organization, per The Dallas Voice. And in 2019, he was given the Inspiration Award at the GLSEN Respect Awards for all he's done in support of LGBTQ kids. GLSEN exec Eliza Byard said in a statement, "Brendon is galvanizing a new wave of youth advocacy at just the moment that the world needs it most."

He struggles with anxiety and related issues

Like so many Americans, Brendon Urie has struggled with his mental health — a struggle that has only been amplified because of fame. Anxiety has been a consistent struggle for the rock star, and he has said that it is something he deals with to this day. "I try to push all the anxious thoughts as far as possible, because if I focus on those too much it becomes a little panicky, I get a little freaked out," he told Interview in 2017. "It's usually things like the pet peeves—I try not to focus on those too much because they make me feel anxious."

In a 2018 interview with Paper, Urie recalled having been on medication as a child, going off of pills for two years, and then starting to take them again when his career started to take off and all of the pressure that comes with being public figure hit. "I kind of needed to numb myself a little bit," he said. "I want to medicate enough so that I can get through these interviews and meet these people." In the article, he identifies ADHD, anxiety, and depression as his diagnoses.

If you or someone you know needs help with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.

He doesn't care about genre labels and loves pop music

When it comes to his own music tastes, Brendon Urie is all over the place. In one interview with Pride Source, he described his taste as ranging from Ace of Base to the soundtrack of "Cabaret," and in another with Kerrang!, mentioned listening to everyone from Celine Dion to Wu-Tang Clan. As he told  NME, all of the music he enjoys — including Kendrick Lamar, Drake, SZA, Cardi B, and Dua Lipa — impacts his own content. "There's a lot of amazing female artists coming out right now and I was really enamored with their production styles and their lyrics," he said. "So I was stealing a lot from a lot of different people but also going back to roots with jazz and folk music and rock and classical — I try to use it all." 

Perhaps because of his broad tastes and his love of pop music, Panic! at the Disco has never been afraid to experiment with different genres. Try as you might, you aren't going to hem in Panic!'s sound; the band started as more emo but has since put out music classifiable as pop, punk, rock, jazz, psychedelia, folk, and more. "We've never cared about labels that people threw at us: whether it was 'emo', or 'pop-punk', or 'whiney rock', or whatever the hell it was," Urie told Kerrang!. "I feel like any artist wants to just create music without having to line up with a certain category, and it's very cool to not have to hold to one genre."

He has tattoos for two of his favorite idols

As we have established, Brendon Urie has a broad array of musicians he appreciates, but two of them stand out from the rest of the pack: Freddie Mercury and Frank Sinatra. These two men are Urie's idols, and he even has a tattoo of each of them on his body. On one arm, he has a giant picture of Sinatra's head that has been there for years, and then a full-body Mercury image, which Urie got in August 2022. "I'm a little obsessed. His world felt so fantastical when I was a kid. I was so enthralled watching Guys and Dolls and learning about the Rat Pack," Urie once said of Sinatra in the Evening Standard. He has covered Sinatra songs on numerous occasions.

In a discussion with Interview, Urie declared, "I wish I was Freddie Mercury, straight up." And, naturally, he also professed his love for Queen. The iconic rocker seems to have impacted Urie immensely, and he at one point was performing "Bohemian Rhapsody" at Panic! at the Disco concerts. A Panic! version of the song also appeared on the "Suicide Squad" soundtrack album. "If I saw any other band doing that, I'd be like, 'F*** off, who do you think you are?' I ask myself the same thing," Urie said to the Evening Standard. "We just started doing it during our soundchecks as a change from playing the same songs, and began going further and further into it." He also said Queen guitarist Brian May gave the cover his stamp of approval. 

He and his wife had to move because of intense fans

Brendon Urie's fans are nothing if they are not passionate, but there have been times where their love for Panic! at the Disco and its frontman has become troublesome. While Urie appears to truly adore his legions of supporters, he has expressed feeling alarmed by some of the fanfiction making the internet rounds. "Fans will write these borderline — not even borderline — just straight-up creepy stories," he said to Global News. "I read a couple of them and I was like, 'This is how you're spending your free time? This is so weird.' ... But freedom of speech, it's a beautiful thing I guess."

While the musician may be able to shrug off the fanfiction that's out there, he does draw a line at trespassing — and hey, who can blame him? At one point in his career, after some fans got his home address, Urie began responding to their packages with his own. But this led to people showing up unannounced and uninvited, which eventually forced Urie and his wife to move. "A couple of times my wife was home alone and people were showing up and she was having to say: 'Yeah this really isn't appropriate guys, I'd really appreciate you not showing up to our house, please leave,'" he told NME in 2018. "So we had to deal with it a couple of times but by that point we felt unsafe so we decided to move. But we found another amazing house with a studio."

The band lineup may change, but the name won't

When one thinks of a band, one tends to think of a unit with multiple members. While Panic! at the Disco did start off with four members — and two others came and went — the outfit is now just Brendon Urie and is generally considered to be a one-man deal. Urie does not just sing, but he also plays the guitar, keyboards, and percussion, which has allowed him to only use a touring band for the instruments he does not play, such as the saxophone, and for backup vocals. "I had a couple of fans tweet me saying 'you should just go solo as Brendon At the Disco!' but I never really considered it," he told Gigwise in 2016. "It's basically a solo project now, but the name has always represented something more distant and exciting for me — something that I'm still reaching toward."

In addition to Urie, the band was founded by Ryan Ross, Brent Wilson, and Spencer Smith in 2004. Jon Walker eventually replaced Smith, and some time later, Walker and Ross left the outfit. According to MTV News, Ross and Urie split when they realized they had different visions for the band, and both men have said there's no bad blood. After Spencer left in 2015, Urie was the lone dog and free to do as he pleased. Notably, Panic! at the Disco has only become more successful since Urie's been solo, charting number one albums in 2016 and 2018, per Billboard.

Brendon Urie likes to record in the buff

In numerous interviews, Brendon Urie has discussed how much he loves being naked. But before you get too excited, know that Brendon's unclothed moments happen, for the most part, in the privacy of his own home – and so any sort of paparazzi photos as evidence are unlikely. "I'm naked all the time," he said in Pride Source. "If I'm home, I'm naked." Brendon told The Guardian that his wife Sarah Urie, whom he wed in 2013, finds his nudity "hilarious." He did not disclose whether she too was a fan of going commando, or whether he was alone there.

Because Urie's home has a studio in it, he is even able to record music in the buff. He has confessed that much of his 2016 album, "Death of a Bachelor," was made while he was nude, simply because if he is home, he is probably naked. "I have a studio at my house with a pool right next to it, and it's fairly private. Nobody can really look into my backyard," he told GQ in 2018. "It's a beautiful thing when you have that kind of freedom. Of course, I'm naked most of the time. A couple of songs were recorded completely nude." Though Brendon did strip down for the "Girls/Girls/Boys" music video — a move inspired by D'Angelo's "(Untitled) How Does It Feel" — the fans did not get views of any of his naughty bits.

His collaboration with Taylor Swift came about by text

Pop fans were very excited when Taylor Swift and Brendon Urie collaborated in 2019 for the song "ME!," the first single off of "Lover." The pair filmed a fantastically elaborate music video that embraced their mutual love of dramatics, and memorably performed the song live at the 2019 Billboard Music Awards. The video broke a Guinness World Record for the most viewed VEVO video within a 24-hour period, and the song peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Top 100. "We just had so much fun working on that song and her ideas for videos...She's really collaborative and just a blast to work with," Urie told Billboard in 2019.

According to the interview he did with Billboard, Urie received a text from Swift professing her admiration of his work and asking him to collaborate. He says that he flooded her with his own compliments, and that he immediately signed on for the song. In December 2019, Urie even wrote about Swift for Entertainment Weekly's year-end "Entertainers of the Year" issue, praising everything from her sense of humor to her songwriting skills. "I'd been a fan of Taylor's for years. When 'We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together' came out, I'd play [it] whenever an acoustic guitar was around. Still do," he wrote. "We met for the first time to record my parts for 'ME!' Taylor greeted me with the warmest hug. I remember being sick as hell and her being so kind...I swear my health got better immediately after."

He was on Broadway but almost cancelled out of fear

Brendon Urie's natural charisma and love of showmanship made him a perfect fit for Broadway, and there is probably no other show that could capture his flamboyance as well as "Kinky Boots." He recalls seeing the show — a musical written by legends Cyndi Lauper and Harvey Fierstein — before agreeing to take on the role of factory owner Charlie Price and being blown away by it. "By the end of the show, I was so on fire, it felt like I had just played a show. My adrenaline was pumping. I was seeing people changed," he told Interview. Urie appeared in the show from June to August 2017, as part of a limited 10-week engagement, joining the ranks of other rock stars like Jake Shears and David Cook.

Urie had a number of challenges to meet when he signed on for the role, including donning those infamous red high-heeled boots. Memorizing lines and perfecting a British accent were other new tasks for Urie, per Interview. Though he was excited, the magnitude of the situation nearly caused him to back out at the last minute. "That was the most terrified I've ever been. I was so scared. The day before I almost cancelled," he confessed to Entertainment Weekly. "I called my manager and I was like, Dude, I'm having anxiety attacks, and literally I can't breathe. He talked me off the ledge a little bit... and then I got off the phone and I started meditating a little."

He is philanthropic and even has his own foundation

Our favorite celebrities are those who use their fame to give back in some way, and Brendon Urie is one such celeb. Though he no longer identifies as a Mormon, he has said that growing up in his church meant that helping others was a key principle of his childhood. "At a really young age I had a community show me that that's what it's all about," he told Billboard in an interview. "I grew up in the Mormon faith, and although I'm not religious anymore, I still am so proud to have that instilled in me at such an early age. My parents, my friends, my church community all showed me examples that it's much easier to be charitable rather than not give any of yourself to anyone. I had to kinda get reinvigorated over time."

Urie's eventual reconnection to his philanthropic roots led him to launch his own foundation, called Highest Hopes Foundation — a reference to Panic! at the Disco's hit song, "High Hopes." According to the foundation's website, the goal of the charity is to help support not-for-profit organizations focused on human rights advocacy work. The website also notes that $1 from each tour ticket sold (for Urie's "Viva La Vengeance" and tour) will be donated as part of the initiative. The charity pledged $1 million to LGBTQ youth organization GLSEN, the organization's first beneficiary, back in 2018.

His music career has made him a multimillionaire

While we do not know details about Brendon Urie's record contracts with DCD2 (Pete Wentz's label) and Fueled by Ramen (owned by Warner Music Group), we know that he's doing well for himself. In fact, after nearly two decades in the music business, Urie is reportedly worth $12 million as of 2022, per Celebrity Net Worth. In addition to the music sales, much of this fortune is likely from touring, merchandise, and outside endeavors like his run in "Kinky Boots." According to the Los Angeles Times, the Encino, California, home Urie purchased in 2014 was worth $1.17 million at the time, so we can only imagine he has upgraded with his current home (which he has been secretive about, given his history with fans popping up uninvited).

Panic! at the Disco has released seven studio albums, as well as a number of live and compilation albums. Eight of these have charted on the Billboard 200, and the band has had 15 songs land in the Top 100, including their first single "I Write Sins Not Tragedies," "Hey Look Ma, I Made It," and "High Hopes." Panic! at the Disco also at one point broke multiple arena merchandise records abroad. He made it, indeed.