Just like there was a code of silence in Hollywood regarding Harvey Weinstein’s sexual abuse and harassment, just like there has been a code of silence within the catholic priesthood when it comes to child rape, there is a code of silence in the rock ‘n’ roll world when it comes to rock stars who abuse women and rape under-age girls.
Jimmy Page admitting to having sex with 14-year-old groupies such as Lori Maddox, who in turn has also spoken many times about losing her virginity to David Bowie at 13 as well as being kidnapped by Page’s manager when she was 14 and taken to his hotel room to have sex with him has become normalised as ‘legendary’ rock n roll behaviour. Rolling Stones bassist Bill Wyman starting a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old Mandy Smith in the 1980s is well-known in the public domain and accepted. Motley Crue’s abuse of women as written in graphic detail in their memoir The Dirt is deemed the bible of rock star behaviour by their fans, as is Marilyn Manson’s self-confessed abuse of women in his book The Long Hard Rock Out of Hell which has been celebrated as what a ‘God of Fuck’ would do.
The very fibre of rock n roll is a celebration and idolisation of the visible displays of male power which is dependent on utilising the female as its object. The female must have the secondary role in this model of machismo, and is designated to display a visible inferiority by the behaviour codes of subservience and passive sexuality. The extension of this ‘natural’ model of masculinity is to grant invincibility to the famous male and in rock n roll the famous male rock star, not just celebrating but iconising sexual promiscuity extended to abuse and rape, under-age sex which he must engage in to qualify him as rock star, rock legend. The worse the behaviour, the more of a rock god he will become. Because rock stars are elevated superficially by fame, not by how good a human being they are, human ethics and morals don’t seem to apply to them.
In this milieu women are in turn demonised if they engage in the exact same sexually promiscuous behaviour. If female rock stars Joan Jett, Lita Ford, Debbie Harry, Stevie Nicks wrote a book about their lives detailing graphic accounts of the thousands of men they had sex with or how they abused them, filmed them, peed on them during sex games, or had underage sex with young male groupies, their career would be over while their male counterparts are elevated to god-like status.
My own book The Last Living Slut: Born in Iran Bred backstage was criticised only for its sexual content, because I as a woman am not allowed to write an unvarnished, raw and human account of my sexuality the way men have been doing so since Henry Miller in the 1920s. I was berated by a famous rock star I was dating for writing about my sexual life when he himself had had a best-selling book about his life sleeping with thousands of women. When I asked him what the difference was, he replied that it was because he was a man.
The very meaning of rock n roll then, as a free-spirited, anarchic, free love place is actually non-existent; for in rock n roll the demonisation of women’s sexuality and their designated inferior role is very much an attitude you would expect in Muslim or Christian fundamentalist communities and countries.
This model of what constitutes rock n roll has not ever evolved or shifted in its extremity of misogyny. Without the debauchery and wild and crazy behaviour and the gender roles played within that, it simply cannot be rock n roll.
So why are rock stars still adored and worshipped even if they are known to be paedophiles and abusive to women? In the cases of Motley Crue, who wrote gleefully about assaulting groupies in their book The Dirt- forcing women to have sex with them backstage, making girls squat over wine bottles over long periods of time, hitting women- and Marilyn Manson who wrote about verbally and physically a disabled groupie, Guns ‘n’ Roses guitarist Slash wrote in graphic detail about abusive behaviour toward his wives and girlfriends, all were elevated to legendary status and their popularity and record sales soared after these revelations.
And even those musicians arrested and charged with child rape are still adored and worshipped.
Hundreds of women have come forward to speaking about American singer R Kelly having sex with them while they were under the age of 16. On July 11, 2019, Kelly was arrested on federal charges alleging sex crimes and obstruction of justice. He faces a total of 18 federal counts, including child pornography and kidnapping as of July 12, 2019. Yes a huge number of his fans regularly show his support and love on social media, as if he should be immune from the consequences of such criminal behaviour.
When the ex-frontman of LostProphets Ian Watkins was sentenced in 2013 to 35 years in prison for raping a one year old girl and attempting to have sex with a baby boy as well as charges of making hundreds of images of child pornography and extreme animal pornography, he had hundreds of young girls writing to him in prison and wanting to start a romantic relationship with him. He still has legions of fans who still support him on social media and hundreds of young girl fans who swap notes on how to dress to sexually excite him when visiting him in prison.
One of these girls 19-year-old Lisa Botham who had a prison relationship with Watkins, says: “It is just the fame thing. I guess us girls used to love Ian in LostProphets and now we can get to meet him. We know what he is in there for but he is still that rock star. It is exciting.”
Lori Maddox who had sex at the age of 13 with David Bowie says: “I saw the greatest music ever. I got to hang out with some of the most amazing, most beautiful, most charismatic men in the world. I went to concerts in limos with police escorts. Am I going to regret this? No.”
Of having a sexual relationship with Jimmy Page from the age of 14 she adds:
“He always left me with his security locked in the room. I wasn’t really allowed to go very many places with him. But it was worth every minute, truly. He was a beautiful person and he touched my life, deeply.”
So is fame such a powerful force that it gives you carte blanche to do anything you want without any consequence?
Film-maker Thomas Leighton*, who is currently producing a documentary on the history of rock stars and underage sex, says of such normalised and celebrated behaviour in rock stars:
“The iconography of the rock star from the first origins of rock n roll was of a transgressor. Starting in the ‘50s with Bill Haley, rock n roll was identified with rebellion and, as the 60s came along and with it the availability of contraception, with sexual freedom, the rock star became the focus of that freedom. The whole culture of so-called groupies emerges and, since then, it seems nobody has challenged that idea of the rock star being able to have sex with underage girls and it being part of a cool image, one that was not projected onto other industries or cultures. With the rare exceptions such as Gary Glitter, Michael Jackson (posthumously) and more recently R Kelly, rock stars have not only broken social codes but laws, without being investigated.
“So the rock star is identified with sexual behaviours that in others would be seen as illegal, illicit or otherwise reprehensible.”
And of the model of rock roll as one where the male is iconised for extreme sexual promiscuous behaviours as glorified by rock star biographies such as Motley Crue’s The Dirt, Marilyn Manson and Slash’s biographies he adds:
“The industry, naturally, would be loath to admit that the behaviour is worthy of exposure and investigation, because of the vast sums being made selling music made by artists like Page, Manson and bands like Motley Crue. Also, it has been argued by many music writers, that the consumers don’t want these rock stars to be brought down by being investigated. Executives and movie moguls don’t have fans, as such, so the #metoo movement has had more success in ‘outing’ individuals in other businesses.”
Sadly a lot of women will happily talk about ‘fat ugly slobs’ who abuse or rape them, but not when it comes to young, good looking, sexy and talented rock stars, as if a musician on a stage, worshipped and adored, good looking and sexy should be immune from committing rape and abuse.
*Name has been changed.