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Keith Urban's Career On Hold Till 2007

Keith Urban's problems with alcohol forced him into rehab just as he was about to launch a promotional blitz for his new album, the aptly titled "Love, Pain, & the whole crazy thing."

No worries.

Even without interviews and appearances, the Australian-reared country singer topped Billboard's country chart with his album, which also reached No. 3 on the Top 200 album chart in its debut week.

The record sold 267,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan, surpassing the 148,000 first-week sales for his last album, 2004's "Be Here."

"It says a lot about his growing fan base that he's just about doubled the best week he'd ever had," said Bill Kennedy, vice president of sales at Capitol Records Nashville, Urban's label home.

Urban, 39, checked himself into rehab last month with his wife, actress Nicole Kidman, by his side. The two were married in June. The singer remains in treatment and had to cancel or postpone several TV appearances, including the Country Music Association awards show earlier this month.

"To not have those vehicles available and to not have him, it was very concerning for sure," Kennedy said. "I can't recall a time when we had to deal with something like this."

Kennedy said Urban will do promotional appearances for the album when he gets out of rehab.

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"I would think that when he is back there will be some type of plan in place for the things we missed the first time around — and not just in the U.S. but across the globe," Kennedy said. "I'm sure there will be some type of campaign to let people know he's back."

Urban's publicist said Wednesday that any professional plans through the end of the year are still on hold.

"Keith will resume his activities when the time comes. There's no timetable on anything right now," spokesman Paul Freundlich said. "His health and well-being come first."

This is not Urban's first bout with substance abuse. He has publicly acknowledged a former addiction to cocaine.

Earlier this month, Urban won the CMA's male vocalist of the year award for the second year in a row. Though he wasn't present, he received a standing ovation when his name was announced. Ronnie Dunn of the duo Brooks & Dunn read a letter from Urban in which he thanked his friends and family.

"I'm looking forward to coming home and seeing you all soon," Urban said in the letter.

Kennedy believes the award helped boost Urban's first-week sales.

"It enabled Ronnie to read the letter. It was nice to have that, considering that he was not able to perform. It was a nice touch," Kennedy said.
By John Gerome

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