11 Rock Stars Who Allegedly Slept With Underage Girls
Gary Glitter, whose crimes far eclipse anyone on this list.
All illustrations by Kevin Cannon
Browse through the annals of rock history, and you'll find, just right of the spotlight, the women with whom the most famous and sexually appealing men of the era chose to spend time with.
Often, it seems, those women were underage — girls, not women.
Pop culture's fascination with teenagers is nothing new. Chuck Berry released "Sweet Little Sixteen" in 1958. The Beatles' opening track on their debut album, "I Saw Her Standing There," begins with the line, "She was just 17 / You know what I mean?" "Thank Heaven for Little Girls" idealizes future sexual potential ("Those little eyes so helpless and appealing / One day will flash and send you crashing through the ceiling"). And for some reason, many of the rich, powerful rock stars, who in their sexual primes could presumably sleep with anyone they chose, gravitated toward girls not old enough to drive.
Some of the girls — who are now grown women — linked to the men on this list have steadfastly maintained that their relationships with rock stars were consensual and overall positive experiences in their lives. Others say the opposite. Thinking about these relationships raises a number of questions about how we interact with the art in our lives. Is it ethical to enjoy music made by an awful person? Are all 25-year-olds who sleep with people under the age of 18 awful people? Should every case of statutory rape be equal in the court of public opinion? How old should teenagers be before society grants them complete sexual agency? Why do we view an average 25-year-old man who sleeps with a 14-year-old girl differently when the 25-year-old man is extremely famous?
What would you do if you knew a mid-20s man who was in an ongoing sexual relationship with a 14- to 16-year-old girl?
Here are 11 rock stars who have been linked to underage women.
As we detailed after Bowie's death, David Bowie had strong links to the Baby Groupies of Los Angeles, and famous groupie Lori Maddox (often spelled Mattix) has repeatedly told the story of how she lost her virginity to Bowie when she was just 14. (Bowie was in his mid-20s.) Maddox has told the story many times over the years, and the details remain the same: Bowie pursued her, but she initially rejected him. Then months later she and fellow underage groupie Sable Starr ended up in a hotel room with Bowie, and the rock star took Maddox into a bathroom and took a bath with her and then had sex with her. The two would later have a threesome with Starr. It's worth noting that Maddox doesn't have any regrets about her experience with Bowie, noting that she would continue to see him on and off for 10 years after their first sexual encounter. "I feel like I was very present," Maddox told Thrillist. "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."
Lori Maddox lost her virginity to David Bowie, but he wasn't the only rock star she would sleep with during her groupie days. In fact, she is better known for her relationship with Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page. In her words, Page had Zeppelin manager Richard Cole "kidnap" her (Cole is also known as the man responsible for the infamous Zeppelin "mud shark" incident.) Maddox was just 14 when their relationship started; Page was 28.
"What happened is that I was kidnapped, literally," Maddox said once in a documentary. "He told me was going to be with me, and I said no, he wasn't, and he said, 'Yes, I am.' Then we all ended up at the Rainbow [Bar and Grill], and Richard Cole says to me, 'Get in the bloody car and if you move, I'll have your head.' Next thing you know I'm at the [Hyatt House] hotel, and I'm walking down the hall, and next thing you know, I'm pulled into this door . . . And I turned around and, look, there was Jimmy sitting in the corner of the room with a hat and a cane saying, 'I told you I'm gonna have you.'"
Apparently, Page's flair for dramatics didn't end on the guitar. He and Maddox would continue to see each other for the next few years, though he tightly controlled Maddox's movements when they were together.
"He always left me with his security locked in the room. I wasn't really allowed to go very many places with him," she claimed.
Nevertheless, Maddox doesn't seem to see herself as a victim. Quite the contrary. She speaks graciously of her time with rock stars and fondly recalls their time together.
"It was worth every minute, truly," she says. "He was a beautiful person and he touched my life, deeply."
This one is dark. R. Kelly was a rising producer when he met teenage singer Aaliyah Haughton. He became the producer and lead songwriter for her debut album. He illegally married Aaliyah in 1994 when she was 14 and he was more than a decade her senior. He even had the guts to name her debut album, Age Ain't Nothing but a Number. "The marriage was quickly annulled once Aaliyah's family and the public found out," reported the Chicago Sun-Times, but more troubling allegations involving underage girls would continue to pile up around Kelly. In 2002, Chicago prosecutors charged Kelly with 21 counts related to child pornography, mostly revolving around one sex tape involving a then-35-year-old Kelly and a 14-year-old girl that included intercourse, fellatio, and urination. Yes, this is the incident Dave Chappelle mercilessly ridiculed on his Comedy Central show in 2003, but you have to remember — there was a real 14-year-old girl in that video, according to her friend's testimony at the trial. The charges against Kelly did not result in a conviction.
Journalist Jim DeRogatis was the pop music critic at the Sun-Times when someone anonymously shipped two sex tapes starring R. Kelly to the paper. When DeRogatis described the case against R. Kelly to our former sister paper Village Voice two years ago, he used the descriptor "stomach-churning."
"Dozens of girls — not one, not two, dozens — with harrowing lawsuits," he said. "The videotapes — and not just one videotape, numerous videotapes. And not Tommy Lee/Pam Anderson, Kardashian fun video. You watch the video for which he was indicted and there is the disembodied look of the rape victim. He orders her to call him Daddy. He urinates in her mouth and instructs her at great length on how to position herself to receive his 'gift.' It's a rape that you're watching. So we're not talking about rock star misbehavior, which men or women can do. We're talking about predatory behavior. Their lives were ruined. Read the lawsuits!"
Ted Nugent released a song in 1981 called "Jailbait." Here are some of the lyrics:
"Well, I don't care if you're just 13 / You look too good to be true / I just know that you're probably clean."
"It's quite all right, I asked your mama / Wait a minute, officer / Don't put those handcuffs on me / Put them on her, and I'll share her with you."
Yeah, sure, the lyrics are creepy, especially the part about asking a girl's parents for permission to "share" their daughter with a police officer in order to evade arrest. But what's even creepier is how those lyrics mirrored real life. Nugent couldn't legally marry 17-year-old Pele Massa in 1978, so he arranged with her parents to become her legal guardian. They would stay together for nine years, and Nugent would say that at the time he was "addicted to girls."Next Page
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