In 1987, at the tender age of 15, Norwalk, California, native Tiffany Renee Darwish took the world by storm with her platinum-selling debut album, Tiffany. Hits like “I Think We’re Alone Now” and “Could’ve Been” — as well as a popular U.S. shopping mall tour — whipped teens into a frenzy.
“Fame is a trip, and the highs and lows affect you no matter what age you enter into it,” Tiffany, 48, exclusively tells Closer Weekly in the magazine’s latest issue, on newsstands now. “Sometimes I was like, ‘I don’t want to work. I want to go shopping!’”
Conflicts involving her mom and stepdad led Tiffany to seek emancipation in 1988. “That was pretty awful,” recalls the singer, who recently separated from her second husband, Ben George, after 14 years together. Now, Tiffany’s happy to report that family drama is in her rearview mirror. “Other than having my son, Elijah, which was the best day of my life, this is the best time of my life,” she shares. “I feel like I’m living my dream.”
Scroll down below to read Closer Weekly’s exclusive interview with Tiffany Renee Darwish!
Great to talk, Tiffany! What’s going on?
I’ve been touring for three years straight and now I’m moving back to L.A., which allowed me to be a part of the NAMM [National Association of Music Merchants] show in January. I’m learning to always take care of myself, which is kind of a new thing for me.
I’ve been somebody who goes and goes and thinks I’m a little invincible. But there was a lot of flying, a lot of stress. I’m kind of grounded from flying now [because of] some medical stuff. Nothing major. And last year I started to feel like it wasn’t a bad thing to take a nap or have some downtime. I’m really into meditation now to nurture and balance myself.
You’ve been at this for decades, so good to hear it! Whose idea was it for you to cover 1967’s “I Think We’re Alone Now,” which you updated again last year?
My producer back in the day, George Tobin. I have to admit that at the time I didn’t want to record it, because it was so “dance” and I wanted to do stuff that was more like Sheryl Crow. So I was a little bummed when I got that song, but I’m forever happy for it now. I really don’t get tired of singing it, and I’m grateful.
What was your favorite song back then?
Probably “Could’ve Been,” because it does show that I can sing. It’s a beautiful ballad and I love melancholy ballads. I love writing songs like that.
Any memorable moments come to mind?
Sitting and chatting with Stevie Nicks and helping her off stage. To have your idol care and ask a question about you — “How are you enjoying it? Are you doing OK?” — that was it for me. It was the best!
Was your Debbie Gibson rivalry real?
No, we didn’t even know each other! That was the funny thing — it was completely made up. But we’re friends now. We’ve learned to respect and love each other. That’s my sister, I adore her, but we’re totally two different beats.
How did you get your start in showbiz?
I lived with my grandparents and my mother — my parents separated when I was about 2. One day my mom was at the grocery store and somebody said, “She’s just so pretty and outgoing.” I was always talking to people or smiling. So my mom put me in pageants, and then I went into dance, but I was always singing. By the time my mom married my stepfather, he said, “You sing all the time” [and got me into it].
I read that you rebelled against him.
My stepfather came from a military background with a very strict Baptist upbringing, so to come into the household and be like, “These are the rules,” I was like, “No, that’s not going to work.” We didn’t get along, yet he’s the person who was instrumental in my career. And this is where I think you have to be open to feelings: Later in his life he had stage 4 cancer, and I was the person he chose to take care of him, which I thought was a big honor. He was a great grandfather to my son. He lived with me for a while and helped me take care of my property — eight-and-a-half acres in Nashville — when I was touring. I never would have thought that I would be the last person taking care of him. It was very healing.
Were there other issues?
My family has always had some addiction problems. Everybody’s family has something, and I’ve been very vocal about how that affected me. But there was still love in the household and lots of support, and I’m glad my family got it together. Everybody’s healthy and happy now, and all of that has turned the page. I think we really learned from it.
How did the emancipation battle start?
I wanted to live with my grandparents. My mom was getting back with my stepfather. That environment didn’t work for me. I learned that it wasn’t healthy for my mom, and I couldn’t do that, travel, tour and all of the things that were expected of me. My mom was a little dependent on me. I was kind of the adult and she needed me for support. I didn’t really understand that and she didn’t know how to explain it, so there was this struggle. We learned that it’s better to handle our own stuff, because some attorneys aren’t necessarily trying to solve cases because they get paid — put it that way.
What happened with you and your second husband, Ben?
We’ve been separated for about a year. The music industry isn’t something he wants to do full-time, but he respects me for what I’m doing. It’s not bitter or angry, so, in love, we’re going our own ways.
How’s Elijah, your son with your first husband from 1992–’03, Bulmaro Garcia?
He’s a structural engineer and he’s amazing — the best thing in my life! I got married very young, but I wanted that because the music industry is a wild ride. It’s a bit harder on females: I’m a nurturer, and we want to be good at everything. Now my sister has twins, and I have a niece and nephew who are everything to me.
Any life lessons to share?
I’m a big person about moving forward. Don’t live in the past. All of it makes you smarter, hopefully. So that’s how I look at life: It’s a big adventure!
Reporting by Diana Cooper