ROGER CLINTON WAS HAVING A SERIOUS case of stage fright. At his lakeside wedding in Dallas on March 26, he began to hyperventilate the instant his bride, Molly D’Ann Martin—eight months pregnant and in a cream-colored maternity dress—headed down the aisle. He fidgeted and stammered so much during the 20-minute late-afternoon ceremony that Methodist minister John Miles had to repeat his questions several times. At one point Roger poked fun at his own nervousness by playfully resting his head on the Arkansas preacher’s shoulder.
Then, at the very moment Miles pronounced the couple man and wife, a bolt of lightning cracked over White Rock Lake, drawing startled laughter from the wedding’s 450 guests. Roger kissed the bride passionately as it started to rain. Along the way, he also got a reassuring hug from his best man. “Hey, settle down,” whispered the President of the United States.
What remains to be seen is whether this famous carouser—who spent his last four nights as a bachelor hanging out without Molly in Caligula XXI, a local topless bar—is ready to follow his big brother’s advice. Certainly Roger, 37, might wish for a more secure position from which to face fatherhood. His singing career is in tatters, and he is being sued for breach of contract by his former manager, Butch Stone.
More worrisomely, Roger is apparently still struggling with his longtime drug problem. Since their split, Stone, 47, has repudiated his previous denial of Roger’s drug use. Instead, Stone now says he saw Roger snorting cocaine in October, the month before he severed all ties with his client. “He had the worst cocaine problem I’ve ever seen in my life,” says Stone. Several Clinton associates also say they saw the First Brother doing coke last year—though ever since the 1992 presidential campaign Roger has claimed to be drug-free. “There was never a day when there was not a large quantity of coke,” says former girlfriend Lauren Miller, 34, a preschool teacher who lived with Roger until January 1993. “He’s a good guy, but he has a terrible habit.” David Glover, 43, former road manager for Roger’s band, also says he saw Clinton use coke and marijuana last year. “You never knew which Roger was going to show up,” he says. “Sometimes he would be very nice, and the next time he was a jerk.”
Clinton, who spent 18 months in an Arkansas prison on a cocaine distribution charge in the mid-’80s (he was caught in a sling operation approved by then-Governor Bill Clinton), insists he is staying clean. “I’m always going to be a cocaine addict, either a practicing one or recovering one,” he told a Dallas radio reporter recently. “Right now I’m a recovering one. I can’t tell you what’s going to happen tomorrow.”
Friends say Roger is clearly in love with Molly, who celebrated her 26th birthday on April 1. She grew up in the Dallas suburb of Farmer’s Branch, the fifth and youngest child of Elmer “Ed” Martin, a decorated policeman who died of a heart attack in 1990, and Emilie, a housewife. A popular honors student at R.L. Turner High School, she was elected homecoming princess in 1986. (Among her classmates: Robert Van Winkle, who later became rapper Vanilla Ice.)
In 1988, Molly earned an associates degree in liberal arts at Kilgore College, where she was a member of the Kilgore Rangerettes drill team. Martin was working in computer sales when friends Will and Donna Schubert introduced her to Roger at a Dallas restaurant in January 1993. By July she had moved in with Roger in Los Angeles, where they still reside. Six weeks later, the couple took a vacation off the coast of Argentina that friends now call the conception cruise.
By that time, Roger had been dropped by Atlantic Records and had only managed to land minor acting roles in such B-movies as National Lampoon’s Last Resort and Pumpkin-head II. Further, Stone claims several concert deals fell through because various promoters were scared off by Roger’s erratic behavior.
Friends say Molly’s pregnancy and the Jan. 6 death of his indomitable mother, Virginia Cassidy Kelley, have forced Roger to think about changing his ways. Just before Virginia died, she helped her son pick out wedding bands. “Sometimes I call the house in Hot Springs to hear her voice on the answering machine,” he said recently. “I suffer from her absence.” Roger has already announced that, in Virginia’s honor, the child Molly is due to deliver on May I will be called Cassidy Clinton, regardless of gender.
Meanwhile, Clinton has a new management deal with infomercial maven Ray Manzella, who promises to “unveil a new Roger to the world.” No specific projects have been announced, but Manzella says Roger’s long-awaited debut album will finally be released early this fall by a small Tennessee record label. His new wife could also help turn his life around. Says Debbie Myers, a Dallas friend: “Roger’s always needed someone strong in his life, and he has that person now.”
DAN MCGRAW in Dallas and LOIS ARMSTRONG in Los Angeles