Sheryl Crow came forward to reveal that she had been sexually assaulted by Michael Jackson’s now-late manager Frank DiLeo. She said that the incident took place when she was on a tour with Jackson in 1987.
She claimed that DiLeo threatened to ruin her career if she refused his advances or blew a whistle to anyone about his actions. According to Crow, the sexual assault was constant during her role as a backup singer with Jackson. She told The Independent in an interview that:
Naiveté is such a beautiful thing. It was incredible in every way, shape and form for a young person from a really small town to see the world and to work with arguably the greatest pop star. But I also got a crash course in the music industry.
Crow even referred directly to the sexual advances from DiLeo in her 1993 song, “The Na-Na Song” where the lyrics read: “Franki DiLeo’s dong/ Maybe if I’d have let him I’d have had a hit song.” Another one of her songs, “What I Can Do for You,” is focused on the perspective of a vicious abuser.
Even though recounting the experiences really made her “uncomfortable,” Crow talked about it all in her new audiobook ““Words + Music.” She continued to tell The Independent that:
It felt really uncomfortable, but it felt, to me, so much more empowering to be able to talk about it and then play the music that was inspired by it. Isn’t that what music is really for? To help us work through whatever our experiences are, and hopefully for the collective to find their own situations in your music too?
While she looked back at all the harassment she had to face at the hands of Frank DiLeo as a backup singer, the artist noted that living in a time where women are allowed to call out abusers through the MeToo movement, the world has made some progress.
To be able to play that stuff about the long bout of sexual harassment I endured during the Michael Jackson tour and to talk about it in the midst of the MeToo movement … it feels like we’ve come a long way, but it doesn’t feel like we’re quite there yet.
DiLeo passed away after getting a heart surgery in 2011 at the age of 63. He was the manager of Michael Jackson in both 1989 when his career was skyrocketing, and in 2009 as well.[Via]