Longtime music biz open secrets about the erstwhile Whiskeytown wunderkind being a not-so-nice kinda guy break nationally.
By Fred Mills
For anyone who had been waiting for the #metoo shoe to drop in the rock biz, it was either a validation or a moment of psychological reckoning: The artist to be called out for sexual misconduct was not the Rolling Stones or Led Zeppelin, but industry darling Ryan Adams.
In an explosive New York Times investigative report,”Ryan Adams Dangled Success. Women Say They Paid a Price,” the subhead essentially tells the whole story: “Several women say Adams offered to jumpstart their music careers, then pursued them sexually and in some cases retaliated when they spurned him. He denies the claims.”
Adams, late of alt-country legends Whiskeytown and a prolific solo artist in his own right, has long been known for his acting out, both in public and private; on that latter count, his off- and back-stage exploits are the stuff of legend, as the BLURT coverage of journalist David Menconi’s biography and former Whiskeytown road manger Thomas O’Keefe’s memoir offer ample testimony.
The current allegations from Adams’ former wife, actress/singer Mandy Moore, musician Phoebe Bridgers, and others (including a woman who, if her NYT quotes are accurate, was under the age of 16 when her online sexual affair with Adams commenced) all paint the rocker as a dominating, manipulative individual who used his industry status to exploit multiple females over the years. Keep in mind, however, that allegations are not proof, and that the story is still unfolding at the time of this writing.
But also keep in mind that Ryan Adams has long been the subject of music industry whispers – that “bad boy” reputation was never restricted to just drinking a lot before going on stage and yapping about audience members shouting out “Summer of ’69.”
There’s been wall to wall media coverage of the story ever since it broke, and Adams has not only lost some key gear endorsements in the process, his label has yanked an Adams album that had been planned for April from its release schedule – some might say that’s the chickens coming home to roost for the musician.
At any rate, two stories that are must-reads for you, as they offer a much-needed perspective on what the Adams situation means for fans as well as the larger rock culture, not to mention how it is deeply relevant in the #metoo era. Please take the time to check out both of the essays:
“Ryan Adams and the Betrayal of Teenage Girls,” by Anna Held (BuzzFeed News)
“Ryan Adams Was Hiding in Plain Sight,” by Maria Sherman (Jezebel)