In what is being hailed as one of the first major instances of the #MeToo movement in the music business, The New York Times has published an exposé on singer-songwriter Ryan Adams. Featuring interviews with seven women, including Adams’ ex-wife and This Is Us star Mandy Moore, the new article chronicles the years of emotional, psychological and sexual abuse suffered by many women, some who were underage at the time, at the hands of Adams.
The Grammy-nominated indie rocker has released 16 solo albums, including a 2015 cover album of Taylor Swift’s 1989. In the NYT piece, written by journalists Joe Coscarelli and Melena Ryzik, interviews with the seven women, as well as more than a dozen associates, paint a picture of a man who used his power and influence to cover up his predatory behaviour, snaking his way into the lives of aspiring female musicians with the promise of helping them with their music.
Parts of the Times article read like flashbacks to the stories shared by women who were sexually harassed by comedian Louis CK, with their horrifying interactions with a man who acted as the gatekeeper to their industry affecting their career before it even began. One young musician named Ava, who Adams texted (and had naked Skype sessions) with for years while she was underage, said that she became so disillusioned with the music industry after their relationship that she gave up on her dreams of being a guitarist.
The New York Times corroborated the women’s claims by speaking to friends, family members, and acquaintances who backed up their stories. The Times also saw, firsthand, thousands of text messages exchanged between Adams and some of the women, with the musician’s pattern of behaviour rarely straying. A well-connected singer-songwriter, Adams would reportedly promise to help aspiring female musicians with their careers and then rescind the offer when they either refused or put an end to any type of sexual or flirtatious behaviour.
Moore posted about the Times article on her Instagram, once again sharing her story as a way to support other women who have been assaulted. Moore captioned the photo “Speaking your truth can be painful and triggering but it’s always worth it. My heart is with all women who have suffered any sort of trauma or abuse. You are seen and heard. #sisterhoodforever.”
The most famous of Adams’ accusers, Moore met Adams in 2007 when she was 23 and he was 33. The pair married in 2009 and Moore filed for divorce in 2015. The singer-turned-actor details in the article how Adams stalled her career at a pivotal point as she attempted to move from pop princess to respected singer-songwriter.
During their time together, Adams insisted that Moore only work with him, banning outside producers and managers from impacting her career. Moore says that Adams would book time for the pair to record her new music, but when she would arrive at the studio, Mandy would find that her husband had replaced her with other female singers. “Music was a point of control for him,” Moore said. “He would always tell me, ‘You’re not a real musician, because you don’t play an instrument.’”
Moore has previously alluded to the psychological and emotional abuse she suffered in her marriage to Adams. In the November 2018 issue of Glamour Magazine, Moore said of her divorce from Adams, “When people said, ‘I’m sorry,’ I was like, ‘No. Sorry would have been had I stayed in a very unhealthy situation.’ I didn’t. I found my way out. And when I did, things opened back up again.”
Musician Megan Butterworth, who was engaged to Adams up until 2018, shares a similar experience with Moore and the other women who bravely came forward in the Times article. Butterworth says that Adams isolated her from friends and family and dictated every aspect of her career, disparaging her on social media after their relationship ended.
Positive outcomes from the New York Times piece can already be seen. Moore, Butterworth, and the other women interviewed have been able to find one another and create a support group. The article will also hopefully go a long way in putting a stop to the behaviour of a musician who has used his power and influence to prey on women and ruin their careers, in many cases before they even began.
For his part, Ryan Adams has responded to the article on his Twitter account and apologized for any wrongdoing, but he has mostly denied the allegations. We could embed his tweets or link to his account, but we don’t want to give him any more of a voice.