Ryan Adams, a soulful modern troubadour? Maybe so, but several women are painting a much darker picture. They say the acclaimed singer-songwriter abused his power by dangling career opportunities as he engaged in psychologically abusive behavior and pursued them for sex, the New York Times reports. One young bass player, identified as Ava, was only 15 or 16 when she shared thousands of text messages with the "New York, New York" singer—who was 40 at the time. "If people knew they would say I was like R Kelley [sic] lol," wrote Adams, who offered to produce her music as he created nicknames for her body parts and showed up naked in a video call. "It was just sexual power," says Ava. Disgusted by the apparent sex-for-success quid pro quo, she quit the business.
Musician Phoebe Bridgers, then 20, says she broke off with Adams after his once-flirty texts turned controlling and jealous; his offer for her to open his 2014 European tour vanished along with their romance. Artist Courtney Raye and two unidentified women tell similar stories; an ex-fiancee describes him as rageful and emotionally abusive. Even Mandy Moore, his ex-wife and star of the series This Is Us, describes Adams as a controlling figure who damaged her career. For his part, 44-year-old Adams denied most of the accusations through a lawyer (including knowing Ava was underage) and posted a tweet that's apparently been taken down: "Run your smear piece," he tells the Times, per Variety. "But the leagal [sic] eagles see you. Rats. I'm f--king taking you down." (A Hollywood director also dismisses the accusations against him.)