What's come out about Ryan Adams

Ryan Adams made headlines in February 2019 for some seriously heinous allegations. The "New York, New York" rocker has been accused of sexual misconduct and psychological abuse by several women (including his ex-wife, singer and This Is Us star Mandy Moore). One of Adams' misconduct accusers alleged that he engaged in an inappropriate sexting relationship with her when she was a minor. He denied the allegations through his attorney.

Adams said in a statement after the allegations against him were first published, "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." He added, "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." He also specified that he "would never have inappropriate interactions with someone [he] thought was underage."

Adams has also been documented as possibly being dishonest, unhinged and vindictive, both in his personal and professional lives, allegedly causing distress, financial loss, and career damage to others. Here's everything we know so far from the most disturbing reports about Ryan Adams.

He disrespected a music legend with a similar name

In October 2002, Ryan Adams — whose name is obviously quite similar to Canadian rocker Bryan Adams' of "Summer of '69" fame, and with whom he also uncannily even shares a birthday — lashed out hard at a heckler at a Nashville show for having the nerve to make the predictable joke and request Bryan's hit.

Ryan recounted the incident in an editorial for The New York Times 15 years later, saying he approached the heavily intoxicated heckler, gave him $40 for cab fare, and told him to "go home and take some aspirin." The incident then became lore when "a journalist in Nashville had taken the facts of that night and written a tale of madness," according to Ryan. "[The article] said, more or less, 'Ryan Adams throws out fan for requesting 'Summer of '69.' I was now a joke. All of my hard work was lost in a story picked up by the Associated Press," he lamented. 

In hindsight of that evening, Ryan referred to Bryan as a "genius," but around the time of the spoiled show, he wasn't so conciliatory. According to The Guardian, some accounts of Ryan grousing about the infamous heckling included him calling Bryan "embarrassing in general." Despite all that, they're now friendly.

He was accused of enabling a rock star's heroin addiction

In the 2017 book Meet Me In The Bathroom, a memoir of The Strokes' heyday, the band claimed that Ryan Adams was a bad influence on their guitarist, Albert Hammond, Jr., who struggled with heroin addiction. Hammond said in the tome (via Vulture), "I remember Julian [Casablancas] threatening to beat Ryan up if he hung out with me, as a protective thing. … I hadn't really been doing [heroin] in baggie form until Ryan showed up. He was definitely a bad influence."

However, Adams denied Hammond's account, insisting he'd never gave Hammond drugs and that he "loved [Hammond] so deeply," adding that he was the only person who'd listen to Hammond's music. "I remember being incredibly worried about him, even after I continued to do speedballs," Adams said, adding that he "didn't do drugs socially."

The band eventually staged a quasi-intervention, Adams recalled, in the form of what he says was "a hypocritical lecture, and then they told me that I was not going to be part of their scene anymore." Adams later went on to diss the band on Twitter, writing (via NME) that Hammond "is a more horrible songwriter than his dad. If that's possible." In another tweet that seemingly riffed on the suggestion that he supplied Hammond with drugs, Adams asked who got Casablancas "strung out on lasagna," adding, "I should have got them addicted to writing better songs." Yeesh. 

He battled drug addiction

Speaking with Buzzfeed in 2014, Ryan Adams admitted to struggling with his own substance abuse issues. He said that in the mid-2000s he was "super into drugs," but clarified, "not shooting drugs or anything like that. I sometimes liked to take some hydrocodone, or cut my line of coke, when I was drunk, with a tiny little bit of dealer-grade heroin, where it just takes the edge off."

In early 2004, Adams injured his wrist after falling offstage. He began taking Percocet, a powerful painkiller, which he says may have actually helped him get sober. He explained, "I couldn't do speedballs or f**king drink or do coke or go crazy, which I had been. It was like I was being spiritually protected. After that period I was so sick of the painkiller, so sick of that high, I could never really get high on that stuff again. And I started to get clean."

Adams still used marijuana at the time of the interview, which he said helps his Ménière's disease, an inner ear condition that can cause ear pain, vertigo and tinnitus. He denied rumors of relapsing with prescription and hard drugs after getting clean, telling Buzzfeed that his reportedly erratic behavior was the result of his illness. However, he later tweeted that he was on enough painkillers to not remember that he'd married Mandy Moore — and they tied the knot in 2009. In December 2018, Adams tweeted that he was 60 days sober.

He dissed two DJs, then lied about it

Every celebrity has the right to both a public and a private life, but the way Ryan Adams tried to maintain that separation when dealing with a Melbourne, Australia, radio station was shady at best. BuzzFeed reported that Adams was polite at first when asked about then-wife Mandy Moore, then tensed up and hung up on the DJs asking him questions — but that Adams tried to play it off differently than how their reporter had witnessed.

"I was really nice about it the first time, and I'm sorry, but I won't repeat myself," Adams said at the time. "The deal is this: I'm a private person and I'll be a gentleman and say I'm not talking about my marriage ever," he said. "I'll never talk about it. Ever … I'll suggest it once and then I'm going to hang up."

Though it sounded like Adams had strong convictions, he didn't seem to want to stick by them: The site claimed that the next day, Adams tweeted an apology to the radio station saying he'd gotten "disconnected" from the call.

He wasted a lot of a music legend's time

Ryan Adams released the critically acclaimed Ashes & Fire, his thirteenth studio album, in 2011. By spring 2013, Adams wanted to record a follow-up, Buzzfeed reported, so he teamed up with producer Glyn Johns, who previously worked with legends like The Who, The Beatles, and Led Zeppelin — and who also was at the helm of Ashes & Fire. Together, Johns and Adams recorded an entire album, costing $100,000 … and no one will ever hear it, because Adams simply decided he didn't like it anymore.

He griped to NME that the record was "slow, adult s**t" and admitted to Buzzfeed that he never bothered telling Johns that he was scrapping his hard work. "I never really had that conversation," Adams said. "I was kinda lost at that point as to what to do."

Previously, Adams gushed about working with Johns on Ashes & Fire, saying he had "total input throughout every step of the process" of making that album.

Voicemails are forever

When it comes to criticism, Ryan Adams can dish it, but he sure can't take it. In December 2003, music critic Jim DeRogatis penned a negative review of Adams' Chicago concert, pointing out Adams' "pointless feud" with Wilco (who he shaded between songs), the fact that he played the same song four times in a row (albeit different versions), and the allegedly sexist lyrics of "Do Miss America." Adams' response was to leave DeRogatis a scathing, profanity-laced voicemail, calling the journalist an "old man," and quipping, "You obviously have like, a problem with me, not with the music, because you can't refute it, because it's too f**king good, and you know it is." DeRogatis played the clip on his weekly radio show, and the audio went viral.

Speaking with Pitchfork about the spat, Adams lamented "giving it power," and claimed that DeRogatis seemed to have it out for him. "I was always getting these really f**ked up next-day-in-the-newspaper vibes from that guy," he said, adding, "And I think that my point was — and I stretched it too long, but it was my phone call to him, it wasn't my phone call to the world, and I think it was pretty classless to take that message and put it everywhere."

Mandy Moore accused him of derailing her music career

Ryan Adams and Mandy Moore married in 2009, and she's made it clear that the honeymoon ended quickly. Moore joined several other accusers in a February 2019 New York Times exposé that portrayed Adams as "psychologically abusive." She also claimed Adams discouraged her from working with other producers and managers and that he'd write songs for her, then have other women record them. "He would always tell me, 'You're not a real musician, because you don't play an instrument,'" she recalled. She also alleged, "His controlling behavior essentially did block my ability to make new connections in the industry during a very pivotal and potentially lucrative time — my entire mid-to-late 20s."

Adams' attorney said that Moore's allegations were "completely inconsistent with his view of the relationship." His lawyer also denied that Adams hindered Moore's music career and that he attempted to blackball her within the industry.

Moore later said on the WTF With Marc Maron podcast that she was "lonely" and "felt like [she] was drowning" in the marriage. "It became abundantly clear while I was working, things would completely fall apart at home," she said. "I couldn't do my job because there was just a constant stream of trying to pay attention to this person who needed me and wouldn't let me do anything else." Moore and Adams split in 2015 and finalized their divorce in 2016.

Phoebe Bridgers accused him of emotional abuse

Mandy Moore wasn't the only romantic interest to accuse Ryan Adams of abusive behavior. Singer Phoebe Bridgers (above) told The New York Times that she and Adams were in a professional relationship that became romantic after he peppered her with "flirty" text messages, saying he wanted to record with her. Their romantic relationship, she says, quickly turned emotionally abusive. Bridgers alleged that Adams "began barraging her with texts, insisting that she prove her whereabouts, or leave social situations to have phone sex, and threatening suicide if she didn't reply immediately."

Bridgers also claimed that after they broke up, Adams became cagey about releasing the songs they recorded together. He also allegedly "rescinded" previously offered live show opportunities. Bridgers eventually open for Adams during his 2017 tour at the advice of her manager, however, on their first day on the road, Adams requested she come to his hotel room. When she arrived, he was "completely nude," Bridgers alleged. Adams, through his attorney, denied the allegations.

After the Times story was published, Bridgers released a statement on Instagram condemning those who surrounded Adams during the alleged misconduct. "Ryan had a network too. Friends, bands, people he worked with. None of them held him accountable. They told him, by what they said or by what they didn't, that what he was doing was okay. They validated him. He couldn't have done this without them."

Why did he curb his collab with Courtney Jaye?

Singer-songwriter Courtney Jaye (above) told The New York Times that "Hurricane Ryan," as she called Ryan Adams, initially met up with her to discuss a collaboration. Their professional relationship, like Adams' with Phoebe Bridgers, was then subjected to flirting on his part, she alleges, and she claimed that he made a pass at her during a work session. They ended up in bed together, Jaye alleged, though she claimed they didn't actually sleep together. "I just shut myself off," she said. Jaye, described by NYT as "having been victimized before," told the paper that she was uncomfortable with the situation — and that when she expressed that sentiment to Adams, he refused to collaborate with her as they'd previously discussed. She admitted, however, that they still corresponded.

Adams' lawyer told the Times that Jaye and Adams "never had a writing session where they ended up in bed." Jaye stood firm, saying, "Something changed in me that year. It made me just not want to make music." Two other women who remained anonymous described similar situations with Adams.

The second time wasn't a charm

Ryan Adams was in a relationship with model Megan Butterworth (above left) starting in 2016, according to Us Weekly. They were engaged, but Butterworth broke it off with the singer, who she accused of abusive behavior. Though Butterworth told The New York Times that Adams never physically hit her, she alleged that "he isolated her socially and professionally," physically intimidated her, and tried to control "who she saw and worked with." 

Butterworth also claimed that after their split, Adams called and messaged her hundreds of times, sometimes even threatening suicide or lawsuits. He also posted photos of Butterworth on his Instagram account after they broke up and tagged her friends and family, writing, "Get it while it's hot folks. [Butterworth] IS SINGLE." Adams, through his attorney, denied allegations of any and all kinds of abuse and/or digital harassment to The Times.

Does it get worse than comparing oneself to R. Kelly?

Perhaps the most unsettling allegation against Ryan Adams in The New York Times report came from a woman who went only by "Ava," her middle name. Ava alleged that she began communicating with Adams online in 2013 when she was just 14 years old and a blossoming bassist. Though Adams was still married to Mandy Moore at this time, Ava alleged that her conversations with him, via Skype and text, turned sexual. Ava would sometimes say she was older than she was, but Adams was allegedly unconvinced. He reportedly sent several messages requesting her to confirm her age, which she never did. Adams also allegedly joked that "if people knew they would say I was like R Kelley [sic] lol," and that Ava's mom would "kill me if she finds out we even text." Other messages were extremely explicit, and Ava alleges that Adams was naked once during a Skype chat. Adams reportedly offered to record with Ava, who said she was so distraught that she stopped playing gigs entirely.

Adams' attorney told The Times that the singer "has communications online with various fans and aspiring musicians" but that Adams "does not recall having online communications with anyone related to anything outside of music," adding, "If, in fact, this woman was underage, Mr. Adams was unaware." The attorney claimed that photos of Ava during the period of their alleged communication showed her to look "approximately 20."

The FBI may be investigating him

After The New York Times' original report on Ryan Adams' alleged sexual misconduct, the FBI reportedly began looking into his exchanges with the underage "Ava." A law enforcement official told The New York Times that the bureau was investigating whether he committed a crime by allegedly engaging in explicit conversation and exposing himself to Ava, who claimed to be between the ages of 14 and 16 during their exchanges. The Crimes Against Children Squad will reportedly seek to interview Ava and obtain any text messages and other evidence in her possession. 

Federal law prohibits sexual exploitation of minors; the Times reports that the decision to prosecute Adams may lie in whether he believed Ava was of legal age based on the context of their communication. An attorney for Ava declined to comment to The Times because her family was still deciding how to proceed in the matter. Adams' attorney denied that Adams corresponded with anyone he knew was underage. Adams himself tweeted that some of the details in the original report "are misrepresented; some are exaggerated; some are outright false." He continued, "I would never have inappropriate interactions with someone I thought was underage. Period."

His alleged misconduct is costing him

After the initial New York Times report, Ryan Adams' upcoming album, Big Colors, was "put on hold," according to Variety. It wasn't the only commercial fallout of Adams' misconduct allegations: Benson amplifiers pulled an upcoming product bearing his name, while Walrus Audio and JHS pedals reportedly pulled Adams-branded items from stores.

Other artists have condemned Adams as well. His own guitarist, Todd Wisenbaker, wrote on Instagram, "There were times when I chose to believe his insane version of the truth because it was easier than believing that anyone is capable of being this much of a monster … I've recently learned that pretty much everything he's ever told me is a lie upon a lie upon a lie. There are excuses and denials for everything." Wisenbaker added that he asked Adams to get help and that he's "actively afraid" for his own family's safety.

Singer-model Karen Elson wrote in a since-deleted Instagram post (via Billboard) that she had a "traumatizing" experience with Adams, while rocker Liz Phair, who collaborated with Adams on a joint-record that was never released, tweeted, "My experience was nowhere near as personally involving, but yes the record ended and the similarities are upsetting."