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In a new story in The New York Times, singer-songwriter Ryan Adams is accused of demanding sex from female musicians he mentored and, when rejected, retaliating with verbal and emotional abuse and harassment.
The story, published Wednesday, features allegations of emotional and verbal abuse by seven women, including ex-wife Mandy Moore and ex-fiancee Megan Butterworth, as well as accusations of sexual manipulation from five more (two off the record), and corroborations from family members, friends and correspondences with Adams.
One woman, identified only as Ava, met Adams when she was 14 years old on Twitter and began speaking with him about her career as a bassist before engaging in an explicit online relationship with him. She says that over a few years as they corresponded on and off, she became more aware of a power imbalance between them, including one time when she signed into to video Skype with him and he was already naked. “It was just sexual power,” she told the Times, and said that she has not pursued music since. Adams denied to the Times that he had ever discussed anything other than music with fans and that he was knowingly in a relationship with a minor.
Another accuser, performer Phoebe Bridgers, met Adams when she was 20 and discussed putting out a record together when their relationship grew romantic; over the course of the fling, however, Bridgers claimed that Ryan became verbally and emotionally abusive, threatening suicide if she didn’t respond or demanding phone sex. When they broke up, Adams allegedly took back an offer to let her tour with him and didn’t bring up recording any songs together, as he had originally promised. Via a lawyer, Adams said he had a “brief, consensual fling” with Bridgers and did not tell Bridgers he would refrain from releasing her songs.
Artist Courtney Jaye said she was 35 when she received a Twitter direct message from Adams with an offer to collaborate. After a few messages, Adams offered to produce the record, she said, but when they met in person, Adams began making advances that Jaye turned down. They ended up in bed, she said, but did not have sex. “I just shut myself off,” she told the Times of the encounter. Adams denied that a writing session of his ever “ended up in bed.”
Two other female singer-songwriters, who declined to be named for fear of retaliation, also told the Times that they had experienced offers to help their careers from Ryan, followed by romantic advances and harassment when relationships did not pan out.
Moore, who was married to Adams from 2009 to 2016, said that during their relationship Adams also offered help with professional advancement but ended up tanking her confidence in her music with verbal harassment. Per Moore, her ex-husband offered to collaborate on an album one year into their marriage and dissuaded her from hiring other producers or managers so that they alone were responsible for her music. In the meantime, Adams and Moore wrote songs together that they never recorded and Adams told Moore she wasn’t a “real musician” because she didn’t play an instrument. “His controlling behavior essentially did block my ability to make new connections in the industry during a very pivotal and potentially lucrative time — my entire mid-to-late 20s,” Moore told the Times. Adams disputed Moore’s account via his lawyer and said he was supportive of her “well-deserved professional success.”
Onetime Adams fiancee Megan Butterworth said that Adams attempted to isolate her and control her career, and when things didn’t go his way, could occasionally become destructive (though not physically abusive). After she left him in 2018, she says, he harassed her with phone calls, text messages and emails that suggested he might commit suicide or bring lawsuits against her. Adams, via his lawyer, denied that he was ever physically destructive, controlling or abusive. Adams also reportedly posted pictures of Butterworth on Twitter and Instagram, tagging her and friends and one family member, and wrote in the caption, “Get it while it’s hot folks. [Butterworth] IS SINGLE.” Adams appeared to have since deleted the post.
Adams responded to the accusations in the article in a series of tweets on Wednesday, saying in part: “I am not a perfect man and I have made many mistakes. To anyone I have ever hurt, however unintentionally, I apologize deeply and unreservedly. But the picture that this article paints is upsettingly inaccurate. Some of its details are misrepresented; some are exaggerated; some are outright false. I would never have inappropriate interactions with someone I thought was underage. Period. As someone who has always tried to spread joy through my music and my life, hearing that some people believe I caused them pain saddens me greatly. I am resolved to work to be the best man I can be. And I wish everyone compassion, understanding and healing.”
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