In a newly published exposé from the New York Times, multiple women have accused Ryan Adams of sexual misconduct and career manipulation, including well-known artists like his ex-wife, singer/actress Mandy Moore, and singer-songwriter Phoebe Bridgers, and one underage musician with whom Adams pursued a sexual relationship.
The piece details the stories of Moore, Bridgers and others who claim that Adams first approached them to help launch or bolster their musical careers while pursuing them sexually, sometimes convincing them to avoid working with other musicians and producers, eventually becoming emotionally and/or verbally abusive toward the younger musicians if they rejected his advances, even threatening to withhold recordings they’d made together.
“Music was a point of control for him,” Moore tells the Times, also noting that Adams effectively halted her musical career during their six-year marriage by blocking her from other opportunities and belittling her accomplishments with comments like, “You’re not a real musician, because you don’t play an instrument.”
Bridgers’ experience with Adams began in 2014 when she was 20 and began to work with Adams in the studio, and the two had a romantic relationship. “There was a mythology around him,” Bridgers says. “It seemed like he had the power to propel people forward.” The relationship eventually evolved into an abusive situation, with Adams becoming controlling. After the breakup, Bridgers says, Adams threatened to not release the music they’d recorded for his PaxAm label. Adams also later reportedly exposed himself to Bridgers without consent in a hotel room.
Among the other women who came forward—including ex-fiancée Megan Butterworth and musician Courtney Jaye, both of whom have similar stories of professional and/or personal relationships gone bad—is 20-year-old bassist Ava (identified by the Times by her middle name), who had a nine-month relationship with Adams when she was 15 and 16. The Times reports of thousands of texts sent between the two, beginning with Adams offering career help and evolving into sexual correspondences, phone sex and naked video calls. Adams reportedly frequently asked Ava about her age, with varying responses from the younger musician, and Adams repeatedly asked her to keep their interactions secret.
Through his lawyer, Andrew B. Brettler, Adams denies all of the allegations, saying that Adams “unequivocally denies that he ever engaged in inappropriate online sexual communications with someone he knew was underage” and calls Adams’ relationship with Bridgers “a brief, consensual fling.” Brettler calls the Times piece “extremely serious and outlandish accusations” that amount to “grousing by disgruntled individuals.”
Read the full New York Times piece here.
Other than his lawyer’s statements, Adams has not publicly responded to the accusations. The musician had previously announced that he would be releasing three studio albums this year, including Big Colors, which as of now is still due out April 19.
UPDATE: Ryan Adams has responded on Twitter with the following statement:
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.