Born to a father in the British Army, Doherty passed much of his youth moving from place to place, both in England and abroad. An intelligent child and a good student, he immersed himself in books, especially Romantic and war poetry, and studied English literature at university. However, he dropped out after a year and moved into a London apartment with guitarist and singer Carl Barât. They began writing songs together, employing a variety of different characters (including a prostitute and a 70-year-old) to complete their band, which they called the Libertines. They finally settled on a lineup -- Doherty and Barât on vocals and guitars, John Hassall on bass, and Gary Powell on drums -- and were signed to Rough Trade in December 2001. Their first single, "What a Waste," was released the next year and was followed shortly thereafter by the critically acclaimed full-length debut Up the Bracket.
Despite the Libertines' success, Doherty's drug habit (he later admitted addictions to both crack and heroin) caused him to miss many of the group's shows. In 2003, he spent a month in jail after breaking into Barât's apartment. Once Doherty was released, the two made up, immediately playing a show together and planning for the Libertines' future. Doherty then entered a rehabilitation clinic in rural Thailand, where he stayed three days before escaping to Bangkok and eventually making his way back to England. Around this time, he began playing solo gigs and formed Babyshambles with guitarist Patrick Walden, bassist Drew McConnell, and drummer Gemma Clarke. The Libertines issued their self-titled sophomore record in August 2004, but despite the critical praise it received, the band was essentially defunct. In August 2005, Babyshambles released the single "Fuck Forever" in anticipation of that autumn's full-length Down in Albion, which, although messy, still showed some of the brilliance Doherty could deliver.
The following year Babyshambles signed to Parlophone Records, which issued the Blinding EP in 2006. In April 2007, he reunited with Barât for a show, though no plans for an official Libertines reunion were made. After Babyshambles' 2007 album, Shotter's Nation, the band went on hiatus and Doherty recorded his solo debut with producer Stephen Street and Blur guitarist Graham Coxon. Grace/Wastelands, which was billed to Peter Doherty, was released early in 2009, shortly after his 30th birthday. The following year, the Libertines reunited for a series of well-received shows, including gigs at that year's Reading and Leeds Festivals. In early 2013, Doherty and Babyshambles returned to the studio with Stephen Street to record their third album, Sequel to the Prequel, which arrived that September. Meanwhile, the Libertines reunited again in 2014, playing sold-out shows at London's Hyde Park and Alexandra Palace, leading the band to work on another album, 2015's Anthems for Doomed Youth. Doherty's second solo effort, Hamburg Demonstrations, was recorded at the city's Cloud Hills Recordings and released in 2016. ~ Heather Phares & Marisa Brown, Rovi