Richard Pryor's Son Talks Addiction, Growing Up With The Comic Icon

By David Konow 03/05/19

"I would just do drugs over and over. It consumed me. Finally one night, I called my dad and told him I needed help," Richard Pryor Jr. recalled in a recent interview.

Richard Pryor
Photo via YouTube

Richard Pryor Jr., son of comedic legend Richard Pryor, recently opened up about his recovery, and how he thankfully didn’t follow in his late father’s tragic footsteps.

Pryor Jr. spoke with Fox News on the eve of the release of his memoir, In a Pryor Life.

“I’ve always been around drugs. Especially with my dad’s side of the family. There was always marijuana around," he explained to Fox News. "I don’t remember when my dad was doing coke, but there were times when I would see bags, not really knowing what it was. And I’m not talking about little bags. I’m talking about sugar bags. In Hollywood, especially in comedy clubs, it was always present. It was always in your face.”

By the time he was in his twenties, Pryor Jr had developed his own drug habit.

“The very first time, I called him up with a needle in my arm,” he recalled. “I was shooting cocaine in my arms. I didn’t know what I was doing. But he was really calm about it. He was probably high himself during the same time… He was just like, ‘Son, it’ll be OK. It’ll be alright. Just trust me, it’s gonna be OK.'”

By the late '80s, Pryor Jr. was deep in the throes of addiction with his drug use becoming more dire during the filming of the movie Critical Condition in 1987. 

“I was so far gone I was doing cocaine every single day and then Valium on top of it. I used cocaine to be productive, and Valium to bring me down. We filmed in this abandoned hospital and I remembered I had drugs hidden on every floor. I would just do drugs over and over. It consumed me. Finally one night, I called my dad and told him I needed help.”

Pryor told Authority Magazine that he struggled with drugs until he was in his late twenties. He says having a son inspired him to get clean. “I also decided I wanted more for myself. I knew I had the potential to do more and I knew I had it in myself to be something. I wanted to get out of the dark place I was living in and find strength and encouragement.”

Pryor felt that if his father were alive today, “he’d be happy to see me in a good place where I can help others.”

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In addition to contributing for The Fix, David Konow has also written for Esquire, Deadline, LA Weekly, Village Voice, The Wrap, and many other publications and websites. He is also the author of the three decade history of heavy metal, Bang Your Head (Three Rivers Press), and the horror film history Reel Terror (St Martins Press). Find David on LinkedIn and Facebook.