John Stamos Talks Going From TV’s Favorite Uncle to a Real-Life Dad and How Being a Chick Magnet Got Him the Beach Boys Gig
Actor returns to the Stern Show ahead of the premiere of his Disney+ sports drama “Big Shot”April 14, 2021
Though his hair remains immaculate and his charm still makes everyone from superstars Jennifer Lawrence to Wack Packer High Pitch Erik swoon, John Stamos has come a long way since his days playing Uncle Jesse on TV’s “Full House.” In the past few years alone, the 57-year-old actor, musician, and producer has transformed from a renowned ladies’ man into a happily married man, from America’s figurative favorite uncle into the literal father of a young boy. He also landed a starring role on the brand-new Disney+ series “Big Shot.” He’s in a great place right now, but as he revealed Wednesday morning the journey getting there wasn’t always easy.
In 2015, he was arrested for driving under the influence and sentenced to counseling and three years’ probation. It was after spending a few months in rehab John first realized he had a serious problem.
“It was getting bad and I was gonna lose everything that I had. There was a moment, I swear to God, where I felt like—I didn’t want to kill myself—but if I died I’d be like, ‘Okay, I’ve done everything,’” Stamos told Howard during his Stern Show return. “But the end goal was being where I am now—clear and straight, with a great wife, and a good kid.”
He’s remained sober for nearly six years now with the help of, among other things, rehab, therapy, and a strong desire to be a good husband and father. “Look, I would be a fucking idiot to not straighten up because I have been handed everything,” John said. “I’ve had an extremely lucky career, I have great friends, I have people that care about me, and, you know, I would be a fool to throw all that out.”
Considering he didn’t find sobriety until his 50s, Howard wondered if John wondered what direction his life might’ve taken had he cleaned up his act a few years earlier.
“I think I would’ve done a lot better with my career if I would’ve straightened up a lot sooner,” John admitted, explaining it took decades for him to learn to trust his instincts as a thespian. “Some people get it right away,” he said, citing Lawrence and Leonardo DiCaprio as examples. “But some actors it takes 25 or 30 years, and it’s taken me that time.”
Howard was dying to know more about John’s relationship with Caitlin McHugh, the actress and model he married in 2018. He also wanted to know what motivated the well-known serial dater to settle down in the first place.
“John would always say to me when he sees me, he’d go, ‘I gotta find my Beth,’” Howard recalled. “How did you come to the maturity where you said, ‘You know what? One woman is enough with me. I don’t need to keep the party going,’” he asked his guest.
“The sobriety helped. My mind got very clear,” John responded before revealing the Stern Show’s own Fred Norris even played a central part. “I was on the show [complaining] and Fred said, ‘Knock it off.’ He said, ‘We don’t want to hear this anymore. If you wanted to find her, you could find her. You’re just being an asshole.’”
“That stuck with me,” Stamos added.
John and Caitlin met while filming an episode of “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.” He told Howard there was a spark, but she was in a relationship at the time. They reconnected years later on the set of “Fuller House” and that’s when the real romance started.
“She was just a nice, really beautiful, normal girl, and I had to tell myself that this is I think what I need and put everything into it,” John recalled thinking at the time. “And if it doesn’t work then that’s okay.”
Well, things worked out. They remain happily married and now have a three-year-old son, Billy, who is named after John’s late father.
Sloop John S.
In addition to being one of Hollywood’s most enduring heartthrobs, Stamos is also known to many as the occasional drummer for the Beach Boys. As listeners learned Wednesday, the two roles aren’t unrelated.
John told Howard he’d idolized the Beach Boys his entire life. He played drums as a kid growing up in Southern California and sometimes cruised by co-founder Mike Love’s house on his bicycle, so he could peer through his windows at the gold records hanging on the wall. In the early 80s, after Stamos gained a modicum of fame on “General Hospital” and become friends with Beach Boys guitarist Jeffrey Foskett, he met the rest of the band backstage before a concert.
“All these girls and cheerleaders chased me into the dressing room and Mike Love was like, ‘Who’s that?’” John recalled. “And Jeff said, ‘That’s my friend. He’s on TV.’ [Mike] said, ‘Do all girls follow him around like that all the time?’ Jeff said, ‘Yeah.’ [Mike] goes, ‘Get him on stage!’”
“And so I went and played ‘Barbara Ann,’” John said.
Stamos has performed with the Beach Boys off-and-on for decades and he didn’t hesitate to share several anecdotes from the road which ranged from breaking into a Toronto ballroom to make music with Brian Wilson to getting barked at by legendary Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page.
He was only 19 or 20 when Page jammed with the Beach Boys, but he recalled the legendary axeman offering him some Jack Daniels backstage. “I’m like, ‘Do you have a light beer, Mr. Page?’” he remembered.
Later, while getting their instruments in tune, Jimmy asked John a question but didn’t like the answer. “He looked at me and said, ‘What key do we play “Barbara Ann”? What key is that in?’ I said, ‘F-Sharp.’ [He said,] ‘I can’t fucking solo in F-sharp!’—he’s yelling at me about what keys the songs are in,” John recalled with a laugh.
Things went more harmoniously when John jammed with John Fogerty a few years later at a Christmas party for the “Full House” cast. Fogerty’s daughter was a Stamos superfan, so the actor had invited her and her dad to the get-together. As the shindig had a live band, Stamos also invited the longtime Credence Clearwater Revival frontman to take the stage. “He comes up and he looks at the band and goes, ‘Do you guys know “Proud Mary”?’” John recalled.
The next occasion they played together was at a party on Fogerty’s birthday and this time Bruce Springsteen happened to be in attendance. “[Fogerty] had a band set up and he said, ‘Come up and play,’ and I’m playing, and … then he looks out in the audience and … goes, ‘Bruce, Bruce!’ I’m like, ‘No way, man,’” Stamos recalled. “Springsteen comes up and we do like 10 songs together and I just couldn’t believe it.”
Can You Hear Me Now?
The world was shocked in 2019 when John’s longtime “Full House” love interest Lori Loughlin was arrested for her part in a massive college admissions scandal involving a handful of celebrities who paid large sums of money to get their children into elite universities like USC. As a result, she and her husband Mossimo Giannulli spent several months in prison.
John said he was just as shocked as everyone else when he learned the news. “She was the last person, certainly from ‘Full House,’ that you’d think would be having to go to jail,” he joked.
The first thing John did after the scandal broke was call up Lori to get her side of the story but their conversation didn’t go as planned. “I said, ‘Did you hear that? Was there a beep?’ She said, ‘Oh yeah, they’re probably bugging my phone.’ I said, ‘Uh, oh, I gotta go—I’m in the canyon,’” he told Howard with a laugh.
In all seriousness, John believed the scandal was incredibly tough on Lori and her family. He didn’t want to put words in their mouth, but he imagined they were all eager to put the whole ordeal behind them.
The Fax Of Life
John had plenty to say about fatherhood on Wednesday, from the death of his own father—who played a huge role in his life—to the kind of dad he’s determined to be for his son Billy. “My father was my hero,” he told Howard. “He was always the coolest fucking dude to me. He was my best friend and losing him [in 1998] was really heavy.”
From Mike Love to late comedian Don Rickles, John has enjoyed several high-profile friendships with men many years his senior. Howard wondered if he saw them as father figures of sorts.
John thought that might be the case. “[My dad] passed away so I just started gravitating toward these older men,” he said, explaining he’d also struck up friendships with the likes of Jack Klugman, Dick Van Dyke, and Garry Marshall.
“Does it kill you inside that your dad isn’t around to meet your son?” Howard asked him.
“Yes, and my wife is so generous, I said ‘I want to name him after my dad,’ and she said, ‘Great, Bill it is,’” John responded.
At one point in the interview, Stamos grabbed a letter his dad faxed him after his parents visited him on set in Europe. John read the note for Howard, which he’d since had framed and mounted on his wall.
“He said … ‘You made me so proud those three weeks that my chest is about 60-inches wide right now, and the way that you handled all the people around you is fantastic. You are truly head and shoulders above everyone else,” Stamos said while fighting back emotions. “He said … ‘Life isn’t very long and a man doesn’t have many great moments, but you have given me many. Thank you, I love you.’”
Howard was moved. “The idea that your dad took the time to write that letter and say, ‘My chest is swelling with pride—I don’t blame you for framing it on the wall,” he concluded. “Believe me, I would frame it too.”
“Big Shot” debuts Friday, April 16 on Disney+.