Singer-songwriter Ryan Adams has been accused of controlling, manipulative, and abusive behaviour by several women, including some former partners and professional collaborators. Adams has long been known for taking a special interest in the career of young female artists, promoting them onstage, through social media, and in the studio, offering up a jump-start to their careers.
Ryan Adams has been accused of abuse ranging from emotional manipulation to sexual misconduct by multiple women, including Phoebe Bridgers and ex-wife Mandy Moore https://t.co/pnbBW6CL0Q
— Pitchfork (@pitchfork) February 13, 2019
According to a report in the New York Times, several people in the singer’s life have detailed extensive accounts of abusive, controlling behaviour. The set of reports includes one from ex-wife Mandy Moore, who states that “music was a point of control for him.”
Famous singer-songwriter and Boygenius member Phoebe Bridgers was 20 years old when Adams invited her into the Pax-Am studio one night in autumn of 2014. “There was a mythology around him,” Bridgers states in the article. “It seemed like he had the power to propel people forward.” Adams then had her perform a track, claiming he was blown away as he compared her to Bob Dylan. Adams even gifted her an expensive vintage guitar, and told her to return to record with him the following day.
Bridgers then brought in her best songs, and Adams proposed that they should create a 7-inch vinyl single for her on his label. As they chatted about the record, Adams began sending Bridgers flirty texts, and a quick romance began. Bridgers said that, less than a week into their relationship, Adams started discussing marriage and insisted that she’d open for him on his European tour. Adams even told Bridgers’ mom that it would be a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” to have him look out for her.
Ryan Adams was such a shitbag in how he spoke about Mandy Moore after they divorced so literally zero part of me is shocked to hear that he's a monster.
— Cher (@thecherness) February 13, 2019
Bridgers went on to explain that in the following weeks, Adams’ affection became obsessive and emotionally abusive. He would send her groups of text messages urging her to prove where she was or leave social gatherings to have phone sex with him. If she didn’t reply right away, he would threaten suicide. When she broke up with him, Adams would avoid her questions about releasing the music they recorded together, and took back his offer of opening for him in upcoming concerts.
Eventually, Adams continued teasing opportunities to Bridgers, offering her the opening slot on select tour dates in 2017. After discussing with her manager, Bridgers accepted the offer because it was a huge opportunity leading up to the release of her debut album. “Then, the first day, he asked me to bring him something in his hotel room,” Bridgers explained. “I came upstairs and he was completely nude.”
FWIW if you wanna hear Phoebe Bridgers’ beautiful song dragging Ryan Adams feat. the lyrics “I faked it every time, but that’s alright” pic.twitter.com/v2iAHRpI20
— Steve Venner (@steve_venner) February 13, 2019
Adams’ lawyer, Andrew B. Brettler, denies this incident and stated that Adams contested Bridgers’ description, calling their relationship “a brief, consensual fling.”
The report also highlights his correspondence with a young, 14-year-old bass-playing fan named Ava. In 2013, she was already creating a career, and Adams began reaching out to assist her musical trajectory until their correspondence turned into graphic texting. Eventually, according to the report, they took part in Skype video calls where Adams exposed himself during phone sex.
Over nine months, between when Ava was 15 and 16, they exchanged a total of 3,217 text messages. In the texts, Adams repeatedly questioned Ava’s age, and sometimes she would urge that she was older than she was, but he was not convinced. Despite that, their sexual conversations would continue, and one of Adams’ texts from November 2014 read, “I would get in trouble if someone knew we talked like this.”
In November 2014, Adams wrote, “I never see pics of you anymore.” At the time, he had just turned 40 and Ava was freshly 16. “You were blowing my mind.” The report even details that Adams had pet names for her body parts. “If people knew they would say I was like R Kelley lol,” Adams anxiously wrote.
Thank you to Mandy, Phoebe, Courtney and others for speaking out. This is an important article. This also cracks the door on more like him in our industry. There are more. Thank you to the @nytimes for continuing these important reveals. We're all fed up. https://t.co/xlU6ibjubX
— V a n e s s a C a r l t o n (@VanessaCarlton) February 14, 2019
Although Adams expressed worry, he continued to turn the conversation to an explicit nature. “I just want you to touch your nipple,” he texted her before once again asking her age. “And tell me that your mom is not gonna kill me if she finds out we even text.”
Brettler claims that the singer does not recall these text conversations. “Mr. Adams unequivocally denies that he ever engaged in inappropriate online sexual communications with someone he knew was underage,” Brettler stated. According to Brettler, Adams recalled his relationships with the women differently than the Times’ report, and the lawyer even referred to a handful of the allegations as “grousing by disgruntled individuals” who were jilted by the music industry and trying to tarnish Adams’ name.
After the article was published, Adams posted a series of apologetic tweets where he said sorry to “anyone I have ever hurt, however unintentionally.” He then went on to refute the report.
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.
— Ryan Adams (@TheRyanAdams) February 13, 2019
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.
— Ryan Adams (@TheRyanAdams) February 13, 2019
Through his lawyer, Adams stated that while he “has communications online with various fans and aspiring musicians,” he “does not recall having online communications with anyone related to anything outside of music.” Brettler then added that “if, in fact, this woman was underage, Mr. Adams was unaware.”
The saddest part about the NYT article on Ryan Adams is that it could literally be written about so many dudes in music. Also my favorite type of male apology is the kind where they literally don’t apologize at all lol
— Best Coast (@BestCoast) February 13, 2019
Ava claims that as her relationship with Adams continued, she became concerned about their unequal dynamic. She explained a scenario where they once agreed to video chat, but when they connected on the call, Adams was already naked. “It was just sexual power,” Ava stated. The situation completely put her off becoming a musician, and after their relationship came to a close, she never played a show again.
A handful of other female singer-songwriters, including Courtney Jaye, described a similar pattern of behaviour from Adams where he raved about their musical ability and offered them tour spots during a romantic pursuit. Then, harrassing messages and threatening their professional relationship when his romantic pursuit would not be reciprocated.
You can read more accounts of his alleged abusive and controlling nature here.