Then there were cellphone cameras.
Despite Cameron Crowe depicting the backstage life of a rock star as a pajama party, the truth was completely the opposite. Flawed men abusing women.
You’d land in a town, play a show, and there would be groupies willing to service you. They wanted a piece of stardom, they wanted a story. And some got it.
And then the boys were gone.
I know, I know, you can’t say the girls were eager, you can’t say they were willing participants, but if you were there you know that’s the truth. You’re living in the middle of nowhere, Sweet Connie in Arkansas, going nowhere, and then a world-famous band shows up in your town? This was pre-internet, pre-free long distance phone calls. When acts were much bigger than they are today. Drake…nowhere near as big as Frampton. Or even Boston! The digital age allows you to reach everybody, but everybody is not interested.
Still, messed up musicians have their desires.
Messed up. That’s the key word here. When no-talents like Jennifer Lopez succeed it makes it look like music is a business, that you can plot it all out, hire the right people, and have a hit. That’s what was wrong with music from 1990 until the mid-aughts. It was manufactured, fake…
Unless it was made by artists.
No one chooses to be an artist, just like no one chooses to be gay. Art chooses you. You sense you’re different. The usual steps don’t appeal. You find like-minded people and you create. Sure, fame looms. But most don’t make it. True artists rarely give up, they keep coming back, and you don’t read about them pivoting to tech success or becoming professionals, they can’t do that, they can only write and sing and play.
How did they get this way? Was it nature or nurture?
Usually there’s a sordid family background. Maybe as simple as not getting the love they wanted.
So they try to get it from their fans.
Classic rockers, especially those from the U.K., continually testify they did it to pull girls. Ever go backstage and hang with these true artists? Frequently they’ve got absolutely nothing to say. And are shy and reserved to boot. Maybe if you hang for eons, you can stumble upon a topic that interests them, get them talking, but the odds are low.
And then they’re gone.
But most people never get to meet their heroes, and they’ve got the fantasy and…
Give Ryan Adams credit, he figured out the paradigm had changed. You cannot go on the road and love ’em and leave ’em. Because they’ve got documentary evidence, pictures, you’re gonna get in trouble, the odds are against you. But if you reach out and touch them on the internet…
That’s right, all artists have fans. Because artists express what you feel. They make you feel understood. And if you could only meet them. And then Ryan Adams DM’s you?
You’ve got no idea what he’s looking for, how messed up he is. You’re posting selfies on Instagram and instead of sending roadies into the audience, having a brief period of time to ponder the pickings, Adams sits on his phone and takes his time, who does he want to prey on today?
And they are willing victims.
Because Adams is gonna make them a star.
The oldest trick in the book. The Hollywood casting couch. But movies aren’t like music, Ryan Adams actually wrote those songs, he’s speaking from his heart directly into yours so…
You dive in, you’re anything but reluctant. And when the behavior goes off the rails…
It’s like any relationship, only more intense. You’ll do things you normally wouldn’t for quite a while before you’ll pull the plug. You’re addicted to the connection, the sex, the comfort, and in the case of Ryan Adams, the fame and the opportunity.
And it used to be the bands were gone from the venue not long after they finished playing. In time for a blow-job, a quickie, then they were outta there. But in the internet era, you’re never gone, you can always reach out and touch somebody.
And Ryan Adams did.
And unlike backstage, he didn’t lead with sex. It seemed like he was interested in your talent…that was the bait before the switch.
And then he was incredibly needy. Seemingly all artists are. They’re so disconnected and so alone that if they get any attention, they can’t live without it. Attention is the drug. That’s what keeps them performing, they’re hooked.
Now you wouldn’t expect a music publication to reveal this truth. Most are on the payroll. “Billboard” sanitizes the stories and “Hits” won’t print anything negative unless the person isn’t paying them. So unless you’re on the inside, you’ve got no idea what’s going on. And even if you are on the inside, and young and inexperienced, you still might be vulnerable, like Mandy Moore.
So the truth has to be excavated on the outside, in this case, the “New York Times.” Music is a backwater, it doesn’t get the respect of movies and TV, but it’s the only medium where you can do it yourself and gain traction, without the approval of white male middlemen who think they’re the talent.
So where does this leave us?
Of course, Ryan Adams is a scumbag. Who needs help. But no one gives help in the music business, the artists are cash cows. You prop them up and take your percentage, wring them for everything they’re worth. You can’t even get an intervention if someone is killing themselves with heroin.
And Ryan Adams still wrote those heartfelt songs. Will listeners stop playing them?
Which brings us back to the case of Jackson Browne, who twenty-five years ago was accused of manhandling Daryl Hannah. We’ll never know the truth, but we do know that Jackson released his best album in years, “I’m Alive,” and it had little impact because so many of his target audience wanted nothing to do with him.
But they do now.
Was it time or the music or..?
Then again, Ryan Adams is nowhere near as big as Jackson Browne. It’s a different era, like I said, no one in this century is as big as those from the last. Jackson had multiple hits. Ryan had one.
So expect a short term dent to his business.
Then again, maybe Adams will self-destruct, like Pee-wee Herman. Remove himself from the discussion, not go on the road, not release records.
But we have the case of Louis C.K., who admitted his behavior and is now working and being excoriated by some while he does good business.
Same deal with Aziz Ansari.
And none of their behavior equals the offenses of Harvey Weinstein.
It seems the media and the non-fans have one standard, and the true fans another.
And Ryan Adams kind of apologized in his tweets. Not really, but he’s not stonewalling, although his lawyer did. He seems to have realized he’s done something wrong. Unlike the movie directors who deny it.
So, what we’ve got here is the exposure of rock star behavior in the teens. It’s ugly. But the truth is it’s been ugly for a long time.
But we live in a contradictory society. Ever listen to rap lyrics? Or those of even Aerosmith? The music is infused with sex, that’s part of its attraction.
Of course, that does not excuse bad behavior, but the question is…
Where is the line, what do we want?
Meanwhile, Ryan Adams is not the only one. As the rule goes, the more successful, the more screwed up. If you’re lucky, you’ve got people protecting you.
But it’s hard to be protected in the digital age, where there’s documentary evidence of your entire life.
So you gain fame and make money by opening a vein, and then you sacrifice your career and money for the same reason.
These are the real issues. It’s more complicated than just kicking offenders to the curb. How do we change the culture? How do we inject sunlight into behavior that takes place in darkness?
Ryan Adams definitely crossed a line. He should pay for it.
But what is the penalty?
We haven’t worked that out yet.
“Ryan Adams Dangled Success. Women Say They Paid A Price”: https://nyti.ms/2SurvWB
Responses from Bob’s readers. Please note: these comments are unedited for grammar or content and do not necessarily reflect the views of CelebrityAccess or its staff.
It’s never been a secret to his fans or any one around him that David Ryan Adams is as charming and creative an asshole as he is talented and unstable. Yet some still chose to dive into that pool hoping to swim to the surface with better results.
Tonight, he’s lost his distribution and endorsements.
The super fans are having a meltdown, and the upcoming tour will probably be cancelled.
Once upon a time we expected our rock stars to be wild. The stuff they did you’d be arrested for now.
As for teenage girls, there would never have been any rock stars with out them, and their devotion. They’ve had a traditional roll to play in annointing, blessing the chosen favorites. I guess that’s super-illegal now.
He’s definitely not the only man in music who has behaved badly. Is he going to be crucified for the sins of all the rockstars before him ? Or is this only the beginning ? What will rock n roll be like in an era of rabid #metoo?
I’ve been waiting years for you to write about him.
I can’t believe this is what it took.
He’s one of the most creative out there. For the sake of the music, I hope he decides to grow up.
Yea, where would Page and Bowie be if there had been cameras? Likely in jail as 14 year olds were still out of bounds even then. And didn’t every teen band do the teen fans? Think they did.
great piece, thank you-
When you’re an adult hitting on 14 yr. old girls, that’s pretty sick. That’s junior high school. Sorry, that’s arguably worse than Harvey. The continued erosion of moral fiber in this country is startling.
Stuart K. Marvin
Nailed it. The thing that makes us good at art is also the thing that makes us the most vulnerable. Not an excuse, just a fact. Loneliness, self destruction, addiction, ect.. I struggle with it ALL. It’s been going on for centuries and there’s very little coaching / support along the way.. we want to color outside the lines but then we take it too far. Music is an electric sword.. it can cut to the heart.. but we can cut ourselves and others in the process… may all us artists find a path of health….Thanks Bob for always exploring our reality… or lack thereof – even when it lands YOU outside the lines.
It’s not a free pass, but Ryan Adams has real issues. He implodes every so often and is constantly in the reassurances of 12step programs and therapies. No excuse for scummy things that happen, but the guy is an damaged work in progress by admission. His road to the light has too many twists and turns to keep track of and he may never get there. A guy like this is a curious and different angle to the exposition of the times as opposed to the classics who put on a smile and prey on women in the dark.
Girls were underage. That’s the real problem. You seem to have missed that Bob.
ill Merchandise, LLC
Fantastically measured and insightful Bob. Great piece.
For years many people have been confused between Bryan Adams and Ryan Adams. I expect they won’t anymore.
You cut it to the quick. What IS the appropriate price indeed? How do you quantify the abuse of power and damage inflicted by assholes like Weinstein, who is nothing more than the reincarnation of Louis B. Mayer? The casting couch is a high risk game in which you make a deal with the devil. The public will decide what the right punishment is, maybe they buy into the tortured artist effect disclaimer or maybe you never work again. How many artists did you like before the truth ruined their creations for you? Pedophilia though is unambiguous from every angle, a hanging offense, period. Brian Singer and R. Kelly are predators of the worst kind and no better than any of the thousands of priests who got a pass for slightly different reasons. Mere oblivion is not a sufficient consequence for them, they must pay a far greater price.
Perhaps the worst part of the New York Times story on Ryan Adams was his sexting with a 16-year old girl. But further to your point that it was always thus, who can forget the original Blind Faith cover that featured a naked 11-year old girl?
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blind_Faith_(Blind_Faith_album)#Album_cover_controversy This wasn?t just some secret, furtive thing – it was the bloody album cover! The things that happened in private are almost unimaginable today. (Some stories are actually legendary. I write this in Seattle, home of the infamous Led Zeppelin mud shark incident).
You have become a bore…only send out letters re youth old people, Spotify, Net. None of which you understand.
Now you have become a shrink…figuring out everybodies issues expect maybe yours.
I have been your biggest fan since you started but if you don’t have something new and interesting to post don’t force it.
Agree with all except “he should pay for it.” Why is that the world’s business? He didn’t sexually assault anyone. He was a bad, emotionally abusive boyfriend. He didn’t know “how you get the girl” – his loss, mostly. But boy, does he know how to sing that song.
“How do we inject sunlight into behavior that takes place in darkness?
I went and saw Louis CK at the San Jose Improv a couple of weeks ago. From my understanding, it was his first “real show” back. He got 2 standing ovations before he said a word to the audience. You could see how shaken he was. Lost weight. Took about 10-15 minutes for him to really “click” before he delivered some of his best material ever. But remember, he jacked off in front of a couple of women… Motley Crue would of been appalled…. Next!
I don’t know what to make of this Ryan Adams thing. Don’t know the guy, don’t listen to his music. He definitely has never been shone in the best light to my understanding, but fucking-A…. People forgave John Mayer for being a douche in Playboy… Took him years to recover, and a house in Montana, but now he’s bigger than ever!!!
As Joe Rogan keeps saying, “Strange Times” are upon us.
If Ryan Adams was texting underage girls and everything the NY Times reported is true, then he is just one more “rock star” I would not be envious of being. Don’t care how successful…. Gross and shitty use of obvious power. Let’s see how this one plays out. Keep em’ coming Bob!
Really? Ryan Adams is a scum bag? The me too movement where men should be held responsible for the sex, drugs and rock n roll behaviours. The poor women that had to suck Their cocks. So he never even met this girl and she is telling this story why exactly? He sent her some sex charged text messages which she replied too and Ryan Adams asked her continuously if she is over 18. I am struggling here Bob. You really think this will make Ryan Adams disappear from the business. This is a fkn joke and he should come out firing in my opinion. What guy has never sent some fkn texts to a girl that were sexy in nature. Oh and they have found seven other women – $$$$$$$$
Don’t jump on this band wagon Bob it’s pure bullshit.
P.S. One other thing Bob?
How did the young lady go with setting up the band that Adams suggested? Did she write a couple songs and send them to him for consideration? That’s what she wanted right? The opportunity to become famous. So did she send him some songs?
Just read your article here, about Ryan Adams..
I’m an independent artist.. I will say I feel like sharks of the music biz prey on artists like me. It’s not always sexual. Although there seems to always be that underlying theme. I must have a fucking target on my back. Being seduced by promises, connections, opportunities has happened to now 5 times.
Who do you turn to? Nobody has the time, and everyone wants money.
Most recently for me, I was taken for quite a bit of money from John Mellencamps nephew Eric Mellancamp.
Legit name, right? Legit person, why would he need to prey on me? Surely he doesn’t need my $1500 as a quick scam?! But he did…
In October he took $1500 from me to produce 2 of my new songs..
I got no production, no produced songs. Haven’t heard from him since. He stiffed the band I paid for with that $1500 that was upfront.
He promised to push my career. Lots of connections, and promises. Earned my trust at first. Afterall, we are both professionals in the biz, right?!
If Ryan Adam’s really wanted to help artists, because he likes their art, that’s great. Never the case though.. always strings attached. This leaves Indie artists like me on the bridge of temptation. We know we should run, it isn’t right.
But this person is different, right? He wouldn’t do that! Would he?!
Thanks for listening, if you do get to read! I’m sure you’ll get lots back on this one!!
Jamie Nichole music.
It’s no secret that this often brilliant and stunningly prolific artist has had lots of person problems. Most surfaced with substance abuse.
Bob. As a fan I am floored by this story, and I AM a fan of his music. Will it stop my love for his brilliant records, no way. It does however make one take pause to say the very least.
All humans are flawed and many have unimaginable deep dark sides. I did not however see the accusations in this story coming.
Good reporting…sad story.
Something that crossed my mind yesterday – are we ready to vilify Mick Jagger et al? Has it come to that yet? Are we going to figuratively sponsor another Stones tour if we accept what we know to be certainly true?
Also – would object to Ryan being as big as Jackson. He’s certainly got the following to allow that argument to be objective. I don’t have an opinion one way or the other on that – but many would take a stand.
You mentioned Connie in Little Rock, she became so famous that she passed out day glow stickers that said something like “In Little Rock call Connie with her phone number. Passing a guy in an airport that had that on his briefcase would draw a knowing smile. So one night found myself behind the barricades at the Arena in that town with the opening act of I think an Alice tour. I was hanging out with the guy at the back door that had really great stories when there was a knock on the door and he admitted a middle-aged man in a jacket and gimme cap. The doorman said “Hello Mr, —— Connie’s still busy,” and the man replied that was fine, he was early. I was introduced to him with the intro, “Don, this is Connie’s daddy.” We made some small talk about the weather, and as the father of a teenage daughter I blurted out…”How can you enable your daughter to do this.” He looked at me and said, “Well Sir, Connie’s mother and I figure that a girl like her would never get to ride on those private jets, stay in beautiful hotels or eat in great restaurants otherwise.”
Remember when Rob Lowe videotaped himself with an underage girl? He actually used a video camera with actual videotape, not a phone that could live periscope.
He was Skyping with a 14 year old. There is no “tortured artist” escape from that reality. He’s a scumbag who will be abandoned by his fans and rightfully so.
It’s the “Me Too: movement today.
Back then it was the “What About Me?” movement..,
Men. From bricklayers to bankers, roofers to rock stars and athletes, athletes, athlete. All of us, without any check, sexually abuse women. It’s sad. And it’s always filling a deep emotional wound, artists do not have a monopoly on that.
Transgressions is the new growth industry…plenty of farmers
“But we have the case of Louis C.K., who admitted his behavior and is now working and being excoriated by some while he does good business.
Same deal with Aziz Ansari. And none of their behavior equals the offenses of Harvey Weinstein.”
Agree. How’s Cosmo Kramer doing?
C Darryl Mattison
OK. Who is Ryan Adams?
Fuck Ryan Adams, he’s always been a creep!
Just a musician, me, but this much I’ve learned about the entertainment business; many relationships are transactional, whether they involve love, money, fame, power, attention or sex. I admit I’ve no clue how we fix that; female artists sleeping with their producers are such a cliche, we hardly remark on it. People on the outside can barely comprehend the hours that go into those few moments under the lights, so much time consumed with travel and all the ancillary activities associated with publicity, is it any wonder some take shortcuts? There’s a reason we have a rep for dating waitresses and strippers, cuz who else is awake when we get off work? Romantic and work relationships can commingle, it happens by necessity; it can be done with integrity, but there are always gonna be some folks who miss that mark.
I think the kid stuff is a big deal, personally.
Oh dear, hear we go again.
What exactly constitutes “sexual misconduct” again ? Is it a defined legal term even ? Other than in the court of public opinion ?
I haven’t even figured out from the allegations if there was any actual “sexual” contact at all. It seems it boils down to him having tried the old casting couch routine but it didn’t work. If an alligation of having abused someone emotionally is already enough to end someone’s career – is that the definition of “perfect world” we wanna live in ?
There’s a reason why courts exist.
There’s a reason for “innocent til proven guilty”.
It’s to avoid public opinion substituting actual justice.
These condemnations of people that haven’t even had the chance yet to defend themselves (at least in a real court) have a very striking resemblance to the actual, very real witch hunts of medevial times.
Innocent til proven guilty applies for everyone, not only the ones you sympathize with by default.
At least it used to be.
Whenever I’ve met an artist, whose music I like, back stage or after a show and they’ve been rude, I’ve often stopped listening to their music. Now when things like this come about people, like Ryan Adams, I get the same feeling and even though I’m a massive fan of Ryan Adams, I don’t feel like listening to his music anymore. In the beginning of #metoo I found it annoying and difficult to stop enjoying pieces of art from people who have behaved in a terrible way, but it’s actually getting easier and easier – there are so many fantastic films and records out there made by people who don’t abuse women.
It sounds like Ryan screwed up. And maybe he is as bad as this story suggests he is. Maybe he did everything he’s accused of.
But…do we have evidence that he ACTUALLY used all this bait and switch to get what he wanted? No.
Is there evidence that he knew the girl online was underage? Nope. In fact the girl admits he asked her several times if she was 18. (And they never got physical). If he exposed himself, this was a lewd act, especially since, by the looks of it, I imagine he suspected she was underage. It doesn’t look good.
I’m not saying he doesn’t have questions to answer, but it seems like nobody waits for people to answer accusations anymore.
I heard what used to be a reputable broadcaster in my country yesterday devote 20 mins to interviewing the author of this piece and when her asked her about his “psychological abuse” of Mandy Moore, her big gun was “he used to tell her she wasn’t a real musician because she didn’t play an instrument”. Maybe he was awful to her, but this is the best she could come up with?
You’re online, with a tonne of followers calling him a “scumbag”.
The problem is the New York Times, and most other news outlets, and sadly, you…you all know that this kind of story is low hanging fruit.
I am not defending Ryan Adams. I’m defending due process. Remember that?
If he did all those things he should get what he deserves (which he already is)
Great piece, Bob.
Martin O. Screech
Funny, as I was reading I thought that this story was kind of the musical equivalent of Louis CK, then you said it. I love both; and just as I didn’t stop listening to Louis, I won’t stop listening to Ryan. John Lennon was supposedly a right prick to his wife, Frank Zappa too. I can separate art from the artist; I’m an adult.
Hi Bob. Great post about Ryan Adams.
The only thing that bothers me is the Aziz Ansari part. It upsets me that he had to take a hit in all this #metoo mess.
This guy was put in the barrel over a bad date. It’s madness. I’m not saying he’s some choir boy, but the particular incident he was blasted for was simply ridiculous.
Anyway, it’s just upsetting b/c I feel bad for the guy.
Have a great weekend.
I’m a long time Ryan Adams fan going back to the Whiskeytown days. To say I’m disappointed is an understatement.
Awhile back Mandy Moore was on Howard Stern and she didn’t get too much into her marriage with Adams however she made a passing comment of “he’s obsessed with himself.” Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised by any of this since everyday there’s been someone new. What is the solution for all of this? Men could stop being assholes, that’s a good place to start.
Lou Verile, Jr.
If you’re listening to musicians because of the morals of their personal lives you are probably missing out on a lot of great music. I’m in a family restaurant now and Zeppelin is playing, does anyone remember some of the shit they did?
Can’t believe they pulled his new album.
I’ve always been up and down with you and your view but this is the real word where we all have our own wrinkles, our own riffs… and that’s how it is and how it should be. Adams has been my own private last-Success-for-me dude for years now. I still follow new players but none with the scarred intensity of Adams. And so these last two days have been harsh. What do I do with this massive amount of output from an artist I truly venerate.
Your words here set me straight. I listen to him. I loathe what he did. I weep for his fate. He truly is a heartbreaker.
I don’t know much about Ryan Adams but I can tell you this. Most guests we have backstage are a little crestfallen when they get a VIP pass to our greenroom, which looks like a cross between a healthfood store and as quiet as a library. They want to see a Roman orgy! Instead of booze and broads like the days of old, we are more concerned about the WiFi connection and what kind of wine the promoter provided on the rider!
As far as the hang after the show goes, we eliminated those shenanigans by implementing “the runner” whereby we immediately come off stage on the encore and RUN to get in the tour bus and blast off to the next town. Same thing that happened at the Greek when you and I missed each other (yet again) a year ago. We were gone!
Kenny Lee Lewis
Hi Bob — You ask what is the penalty for Ryan Adams behavior?
The answer is you writing articles like this about him. And the world knowing what a dick he is.
And if any of the women have cases they can take him to court. But being called out in the media seems to be it, making the journalists the judges and we the jurors.
Just for the record on Jackson Browne…his true fans never for a second believed the Hannah accusations. Not for one second.
Love your letters! Have a great weekend!
Kenyon Diamond Co.
Really? You’re going to pull Jackson Browne into the Ryan Adams / Harvey Weinstein mix. Jesus. If you want to know why people didn’t buy “I’m Alive”, listen to his previous 3 records.
It’s time to make the record companies, the managers and the agents ASHAMED to cover-up, turn a blind eye and rep sexual predators – no matter how talented. Out those enablers who profit. Let’s hear more about them. Every executive and every member of their boards. Maybe this will force predator artists to get the therapy they need.
Audrey Fix Schaefer
I hate his guy. I have from day one, and I’m not alone. I very much hope that he self destructs. I wish it happened 20 years ago. What a prick.
More evidence from the Ryan Adams mess on why I subscribe to the D.H. Lawrence axiom “Never trust the teller, trust the tale” which has been reworked in the modern day “Trust the art, not the artist”.
Rarely have I met an artist who lives up to their work. Often it’s just disappointment with an occasional exception.
Bob, this could be the best article ever written on the subject. And from both sides. As a lifelong musician I’ve met my share of small time crooks, hookers, con men, etc. and they always had a saying ” Every con or scheme depends on the greed of the mark.”
Man – you’re gonna get some furious mail with this fucker!
You are a dinosaur in more ways than one but this is the final straw.
Get with the times or die by your own sword.
Once upon a time it was deemed ok for your generation to get away with this and much more; racism etc.
You’re all dead in the water.
And good fucking riddance.