Multiple women, including several high-profile musical collaborators and at least one then-underage fan, have accused the singer-songwriter Ryan Adams of sexual misconduct and abusive behavior.
Speaking to the New York Times, Adams’ ex-wife Mandy Moore, singer-songwriter Phoebe Bridgers, and a now-20-year-old fan who reported to have exchanged sexually explicit messages with Adams as a minor, are among those who say that he engaged in a years-long pattern of promising professional advancement in music alongside sexual advances, only to turn manipulative and abusive.
He denied all claims to the New York Times via a lawyer.
That newspaper reported that it examined years of messages between Adams and the underage fan (referred to as “Ava” in the story) and uncovered many sexually explicit messages in which Adams acknowledged his fear of being discovered.
“If people knew they would say I was like R Kelley lol,” he allegedly wrote in one, when he was 40 years old and Ava was 16. “And tell me that your mom is not gonna kill me if she finds out we even text,” he allegedly wrote in another.
Ava was one of several female artists in the story who claim that Adams’ mix of fame and promises of professional help led to manipulative sexually charged relationships that thwarted their music careers.
High-profile artists levied similar accusations. The singer-songwriter Bridgers released some of her earliest music on Adams’ Pax-Am label, affiliated with the major label Capitol. She told the New York Times that “[t]here was a mythology around him … it seemed like he had the power to propel people forward.” They began a romantic relationship that, Bridgers said, soon turned dark and emotionally manipulative, with Adams threatening professional retaliation.
Moore, an actor and musician, described similar treatment during their relationship. “What you experience with him — the treatment, the destructive, manic sort of back and forth behavior — feels so exclusive,” she told the paper. “You feel like there’s no way other people have been treated like this.”
Adams further denied the accusations on Wednesday via multiple posts on Twitter, writing that “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.”
Adams’ lawyer Andrew B. Brettler told the paper that “Mr. Adams unequivocally denies that he ever engaged in inappropriate online sexual communications with someone he knew was underage” and described the other allegations as “grousing by disgruntled individuals.”
Backlash against Adams quickly spread through social media, with artists recalling similar stories about him and supporting his accusers. Carl Newman of New Pornographers fame, in an explicit tweet, derided him over “how he was treating his ex-girlfriend,” and singer-songwriter Torres then asked readers to “remove the part of my Wikipedia page that says I consider Ryan Adams an influence.”