Folk-rock singer-songwriter Ryan Adams demonstrated a pattern of abusive behavior with women, particularly with young women, according to a blistering new feature from The New York Times.
Adams has been a prolific fixture of the New York City music scene since his debut album in 2000, Heartbreaker. He’s recorded sixteen solo albums and worked as a producer with artists ranging from Willy Nelson to Fall Out Boy. In 2015, he released a cover album of Taylor Swift’s 1989. Notably, Pitchfork reviewed Adams’s album, but not Swift’s original.
The New York Times article suggests that Adams’ status as an industry golden boy allowed him a unique opportunity to manipulate women, including ex-wife Mandy Moore.
The news outlet also reported on an online correspondence that began in 2013 between Adams and a prodigy female bassist (identified by her middle name Ava), who was then just age 14. The two exchanged photographs and, according to Ava, Adams exposed himself via Skype sex.
“I would get in trouble if someone knew we talked like this,” Adams reportedly wrote to Ava in November 2014. He also dangled the possibility of working with Ava in the studio.
Adams says he does not recall the exchanges. According to his lawyer, Andrew B. Brettler: “Mr. Adams unequivocally denies that he ever engaged in inappropriate online sexual communications with someone he knew was underage.”
Although Ava had been playing gigs in Manhattan with musicians since the age of 12, she said the idea that she would need to sleep with musicians in order to work with them “just totally put me off to the whole idea” of being a musician, and she tells the publication she never played another gig.
Musician Phoebe Bridgers also said she was sexually manipulated by Adams, who allegedly used promises of career advancement in order to engage in a relationship with Bridger, who was 20 years old when the two met. She claims Ryan then withdrew creative opportunities when she broke off their relationship.
After the break-up, Bridgers said Adams went on to offer her a few dates opening for him on tour, which would be a major opportunity for a debut artist.
“Then, the first day, he asked me to bring him something in his hotel room,” she said. “I came upstairs and he was completely nude.” Adams denies the incident through his lawyer.
Three other young female artists, including Courtney Jayne, shared similar stories of Adams using career opportunities to open a door that became sexual and then abusive.
Adams’ ex-wife, Mandy Moore, and his ex-fiance Megan Butterworth both described a controlling and emotionally abusive relationship.
Moore said, “What you experience with him — the treatment, the destructive, manic sort of back and forth behavior — feels so exclusive. You feel like there’s no way other people have been treated like this.”
In a series of tweets, Adams apologized but refuted the portrayal of him presented in the Times piece.