Tales of Rock: Steven Tyler Took Legal Custody Of The Teenager He Was Banging, May Have Pressured Her Into Aborting Their Child

While today he’s most recognized as a prettier, more flamboyant version of your grandmother, back in the mid-’70s, Steven Tyler was navigating the Aerosmith ship over the massive waves of success brought on by smash hits like “Dream On.” But Tyler wasn’t just in it for the fame; right around the time Aerosmith was hitting the big time, he reached deep into his heart to take legal custody of a troubled underage fan … so that he could have approximately all of the sex with her.

Julia Holcomb had a tragic past. Her father was a gambler with abandonment issues, she was a passenger in the car crash that killed her brother and grandfather, and her mother had a history of choosing less-than-stable stepfathers. So it’s understandable that, shortly after a 14-year-old (according to Tyler) or 15-year-old (according to her) Julia met Tyler backstage at an Aerosmith concert, her mother readily signed over custody to the rock star. And by “understandable,” we mean “completely irresponsible and totally nuts.”

But Julia’s mother wasn’t about to start making decisions that were in her daughter’s best interest now, and so the young teen spent three years living with Tyler, a skeletal sex wizard. As you may suspect, this arrangement did precisely nothing to soften the tragedies of her life. According to Julia, a profusely coked-up Tyler “convinced” her to have children with him by tossing her birth control pills off a balcony. Then, once she became pregnant, he took off on tour, leaving her all alone in his Boston apartment. Then the apartment caught fucking fire, with Holcomb barely managing to survive by crawling into a fireplace (which it seems was the last place the fire thought to look for her). Then, while she was in the hospital recovering, Tyler allegedly spent a full hour pressuring her to abort her five-month pregnancy (which, if you recall, was achieved in the first place by Tyler confiscating her birth control and casting it into the wind), finally convincing her by threatening to send her home to her mother. Having gotten his way, Tyler, riding a balloon of cocaine up into the stratosphere, sat down and watched the doctors carry out the procedure.

Holcomb went on to happily marry another man and become a mother of seven. Tyler went on to feature his teenage daughter in an overtly sexual music video.

Now, it’s important to note that Tyler’s version of events — namely, that Holcomb was a repeated-abortion-having sexual pincushion — was written with the intent of achieving bestseller status, while Holcomb’s version was published on a website with an obvious pro-life political agenda. So the whole truth probably lies somewhere in between. Still, when you’re placing someone on a scale from “massive douche” to “the black douche-hole at the center of the galaxy,” you’re really splitting hairs.

 

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Tales of Rock – Axl & Tommy Hilfiger

Axl Rose and Tommy Hilfiger walk into a bar. It already sounds like the setup for a joke. That’s why we’ve already covered the now-legendary fight that resulted from that improbable premise once before here on Cracked. If you read that article (which was published before I started writing here, so I understand if you didn’t), you already know the lurid details. For the rest of you, here’s a quick refresher:

At a nightclub called The Plumm in NYC, during a birthday celebration for actress Rosario Dawson …

… a fight broke out between former hard rock badass Axl Rose and fashion designer to the mid-90s rap stars Tommy Hilfiger

The dispute happened after Rose had the audacity to move a drink belonging to Hilfiger’s girlfriend. I know, I was surprised too. That’s not the point, though. The point is, Axl Rose didn’t start this fight, he was just trying to keep some chick’s drink from falling off the table. You can bet your ass he ended that fight, though.

Unfortunately for his place in rock and roll badass lore, he ended it by getting crushed in the face by a dude who makes polo shirts for a living. It’s documented in the public record that he didn’t even fight back. When he got punched. By Tommy Hilfiger. For most people, the only consequence of that will be the added stress that comes with figuring out how best to invest your out of court settlement money. For Axl Rose, though, it’s a veritable public relations nightmare.

At least it would have been if it happened at a time when Axl Rose still had a public in need of being related to. This was 2006, though, a few years before the long-delayed Chinese Democracy was finally released. You could argue that it was a good thing that nobody cared what Axl Rose was up to when this happened. By 2006, he was already firmly established as the laughing stock that he is today, so there wasn’t much credibility to lose, even after an incident so terribly unrocking as this one.

And that, ultimately, is the saddest thing about the Tommy Hilfiger incident. It proved that Axl Rose was so far removed from his days as an icon of rock debauchery that we weren’t even surprised when he got beat up by a fashion designer.

 

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Psychologists Tell Us How to Pass Through 5 of the Most Dangerous Periods of Marriage and Not Break Up

Writer Robert Stevenson once said, “Marriage is one long conversation, checkered by disputes.” Sooner or later, every couple goes through a crisis, it’s absolutely inevitable. The good news is, when coping with the crisis, spouses reach a new level in their relationships and find new ways to be happy with each other.

The 1st year of marriage: Realization stage

Psychologists Tell Us How to Pass Through 5 of the Most Dangerous Periods of Marriage and Not Break Up

The bodacious singer Pink proposed to her boyfriend herself. However, the couple broke up one year later… Then they reunited again! The couple is now raising two children.

Rita DeMaria, a marriage and family therapist, calls this crisis a “realization stage.” It usually happens after 6-12 months of living together. The first charm of being in love disappears and you start seeing your partner the way he/she really is with all of their weaknesses and sometimes not very pleasant habits (that you gladly ignored before). “It’s the time to learn to work as a team,” DeMaria says.

What should you do? “If you haven’t discussed serious subjects like finance, children, relatives’ visits, free time, etc. before your marriage, it’s time to do it now,” Beverly Hayman, a psychologist, recommends. You need to speak honestly about your values and priorities. There is a probability that they will not entirely coincide with those of your partner, and it’s then you two will need to find a compromise. It’s very important to reach a firm agreement to the most “burning” questions during this period of time.

3-4 years of marriage: A dangerous “comfort zone”

The marriage of Madonna and Sean Penn lasted only 3 years, but these stars say in their interviews that they still love each other. Perhaps they rushed to get a divorce?

The research among 2,000 British married couples showed that in 3 and a half years spouses start taking each other for granted, preferring sleep to sex, and stop saying “I love you” to each other. A couple finds their own “comfort zone.” On one hand, this is a wonderful feeling of security and relaxation, but on the other rather unpleasant things become normal in their life, like keeping the door open when you pee and wearing shabby pajamas. Though 82% of participating couples said that they were happy with their marriage, 49% mentioned that they wanted their partner to be more romantic.

What should you do? You need to keep a certain degree of emotional intensity in your life. Compliment each other more often and praise each other’s achievements. It’s better to avoid saying everything that’s on your mind to your partner and sometimes it’s better to keep silent. If you see that there’s a problem, begin your conversation softly without accusations. First you need to look inside yourself, John Gottman, a family psychologist, recommends. Growth in marriage happens when each partner is capable of viewing oneself from the outside and understands how much he/she contributes (or doesn’t contribute) to the relationship.

5-7 years of marriage: “The seven-year itch”

Psychologists Tell Us How to Pass Through 5 of the Most Dangerous Periods of Marriage and Not Break Up

David Schwimmer from Friends and his wife Zoe Buckman announced that they wanted to take a break from their relationship after 7 years of marriage. Their fans hope that this is a temporary decision.

There is a certain term in western psychology called “the seven-year itch.” This is one of the most critical periods in every marriage. By this time, the couple has a fine-tuned life, settled relationship, and the spouses treat each other like they’re on auto-pilot which is a big mistake, Beverly Hayman reminds. Interest and sexual appeal towards each other decreases due to routine. It seems that the partners know everything about each other. Sometimes a couple makes a decision to have a first child (or a second one) in order to save their marriage, but it’s worth remembering that a child is a separate person, and not a rescue device.

What should you do? Robert Taibbi, a family therapist, suggests the following:

1. Keep your communication open. You should be less formal, like “How was you day?” “OK”, but more sincere and emotional.

2. Solve your problems immediately as they arise, don’t let them pile up.

3. Listen to yourself. Assess your state from time to time, refresh the list of your wants and your vision of the future. Share your thoughts with your partner.

4. Discuss the future of your relationship. Which plans do you have for the next year, or next 5 or 10? Again, the key is openness and honesty, not politeness and vagueness.

20-30 years of marriage: Mid-life crisis and “grey divorce”

Psychologists Tell Us How to Pass Through 5 of the Most Dangerous Periods of Marriage and Not Break Up

Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman broke up after 30 years of marriage which shocked their fans. However, a year later they understood that they had made a mistake and reunited.

The crisis of 20 years of marriage happens due to the personal mid-life crises of both spouses. The effect is increased by a so called empty-nest syndrome when children grow up and leave the family home while the spouses stay by themselves, like in the beginning of their relationship. The spouses may feel that their marriage is exhausted because its main mission is completed. American psychologists call this divorce “grey divorce” because some spouses have already become grey-haired by this time. In recent times, the number of these divorces has been growing.

What should you do? Don’t distance from each other. Look for other meanings of existence for you as a couple. If spouses ignored their marriage problems while raising children then, when it’s just the two of them, the conficts may become more intense. On the other hand, you have more time to solve them. It’s a great opportunity to rebuild your marriage. Steve Seabold, a relationship coach, recommends doing sports together and creating new common goals, like travel, new business, language courses, or something that will help you to create unforgettable experiences.

Non-standard recommendations to overcome a marriage crisis

Mort Fertel, a relationship expert, thinks that popular recommendations to marriage rescue like sharing feelings with a partner or visiting a family psychologist are not always effective because they don’t define what exactly needs to be done to overcome the crisis.

Here are some unusual recommendations by Mort Fertel on how to save your marriage:

1. Save your marriage even by yourself. It’s usually believed that a marriage can be saved only when both partners are ready to work on problems. “The efforts made by even one person can change the marriage dynamics and can motivate the more stubborn spouse to join the process of the marriage rescue,” Mort Fertel says.

2. Don’t ask yourself wrong questions. Don’t ask yourself, “Is this the right person I’ve chosen for a spouse?” The key to a successful marriage is not to find the right person but to learn to love the one that you found. Because love is not luck, it’s your choice.

3. Separation drives you apart, not closer. Separation, which allegedly can refresh your feelings, can distance you from each other even more, especially during a marriage crisis where your goal is to be closer again.

4. Talk less about problems. Conversations about marriage problems don’t solve them but make them deeper. They cause arguments and anger. Talking about a problem doesn’t mean you solved it. Talk less, do more. Find real ways to solve your difficulties.

5. Don’t think that a therapist will give you the exact answers. Therapy sessions help spouses talk to each other and understand each other’s point of view, but they don’t give answers regarding what needs to be done to save the marriage. As a result, couples remain very disappointed with their therapy.

6. Don’t tell your relatives and friends about your marriage crisis. “One of the most important values of marriage is confidentiality, that’s why talking to your relatives or friends about your marriage or your spouse is a big mistake. This is a violation of confidentiality for your spouse, and it’s wrong,” Mort Fertel says.

 

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Tales of Rock – 11 Rock Stars Who Allegedly Slept With Underage Girls

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.

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.

11 Rock Stars Who Allegedly Slept With Underage Girls

David Bowie
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 phicklephilly. “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.”

 

11 Rock Stars Who Allegedly Slept With Underage Girls

Jimmy Page
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.”

 

11 Rock Stars Who Allegedly Slept With Underage Girls

R. Kelly
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!”

 

11 Rock Stars Who Allegedly Slept With Underage Girls

Ted Nugent
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.” 

 

11 Rock Stars Who Allegedly Slept With Underage Girls

Steven Tyler
At least the one underage groupie who slept with David Bowie proclaims no regrets. Such is not the case with Steven Tyler.

Julia Holcomb had just turned 16 when she met the Aerosmith singer at a concert in Portland, Oregon. She had not lived a happy life before meeting him. Her father abandoned her mother early on, and her younger brother died in a car accident when she was 13.

She was in a fragile place when a 24-year-old woman befriended her, dressed her in revealing clothing, and got them backstage at an Aerosmith concert.

Holcomb tells this account in a 5,000-word essay on Life Site, an anti-abortion blog with an obvious agenda. Perhaps as a result, she skips the details of how she and Tyler met and skips to her mother granting Tyler guardianship over her, the reason being so that he could bring her on tour with him over state lines.

Tyler ended up impregnating her, and by her account, they almost ended up married. Things soured, however, and Tyler pressured her to get an abortion at five months, one week before the legal limit. She went through with it, moved home, and except for a few phone calls, never heard from Tyler again.

“In spite of everything, I do not hate Steven Tyler, nor am I personally bitter,” Holcomb writes. “I pray for his sincere conversion of heart and hope he can find God’s grace.”

 

11 Rock Stars Who Allegedly Slept With Underage Girls

Jerry Lee Lewis
Yes, it was 1958. But even back then, a 22-year-old marrying his 13-year-old cousin while still married to another woman was scandalous. And yet that’s exactly what Jerry Lee Lewis, one of rock ’n’ roll’s most important pioneers, did. It was in 1958 when British journalists learned of the tender young age of Myra Gale Brown, and the ensuing uproar caused Lewis to cancel his tour and spoiled his chance to dethrone Elvis as the king of rock.

There’s one detail that is particularly unsettling: When Brown moved out of her parents’ house to join Lewis on tour, she packed her belongings in the only container she had — her dollhouse.

“It’s been as if my life has gone on without my permission. I have been a bystander in my life,” she told the Philadelphia Enquirer in 1989.

At 14, the couple had a child, who would die in a swimming pool accident three years later. Lewis’ infidelity and drug use further strained the marriage, and they got divorced in 1971. Lewis, who is still alive, married for a seventh time in 2012. He kept it in the family again — she was reportedly his cousin’s ex-wife.

 

11 Rock Stars Who Allegedly Slept With Underage Girls

Marvin Gaye
Here’s an interesting bit of music trivia — who is Marvin Gaye speaking to in “Let’s Get It On”? The answer is Janice Hunter, Gaye’s second wife and father to two of his children. They met when Hunter was 17, and according to Hunter’s 2015 memoir, After the Dance, Gaye took her out to dinner and bribed the waiter $20 to serve his underage companion apricot sours.

They began an intense sexual relationship, according to Hunter. She quickly learned of Gaye’s possessive side.

“I don’t want to share you,” she says he told her. “There are all those strapping young high school football players looking to love on you. They’re my competitors.”

As an aside, Hunter was the part of Marvin Gaye’s estate that successfully sued Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams for plagiarism, prying more than $7 million from the two musicians’ hands.

 

11 Rock Stars Who Allegedly Slept With Underage Girls

Bill Wyman
No one cares about the bass player if the bass player doesn’t sing, even if that band is the Rolling Stones. Perhaps that’s why no one seems to know or care that Wyman began a sexual relationship with a teenage girl in the mid-’80s.

Mandy Smith told the Daily Mail that she began hitting the English club scene at a young age, where she eventually ran into Wyman. The two began a relationship when she was 13 and he was in his 30s, and it became sexual when she was 14. They married in 1989 to much fanfare, when Smith was 18, but just two years later would get divorced. In an added wrinkle, Wyman’s son from his first wife ended up marrying Smith’s mother.

When the Daily Mail writer asked Smith whether it’s appropriate for a teenage girl to marry a much older man, Smith reacted strongly.

“‘It’s not about being physically mature. It’s emotional maturity that matters,” she said. “I don’t think most 16-year-olds are ready. I think the age of consent should be raised to 18 at a minimum, and some girls aren’t even ready then.”

 

11 Rock Stars Who Allegedly Slept With Underage Girls

Elvis Presley
The King of rock can thank Jerry Lee Lewis’ libido for disrupting a challenge to the throne, but Presley wasn’t without his own girl problems. Priscilla Presley, Elvis’ wife, was just 14 when the couple met. The King’s attention quickly overwhelmed her, and by age 17 she was living with Elvis in Graceland. His demands eventually overwhelmed her personality.

“I was someone he created,’ she told the Daily Mail in 2010. “I was just a kid and I was consumed by him. All I desired was not to disappoint him.”

Alanna Nash compiled tales from Elvis’ lovers in a 2010 book, Baby, Let’s Play House: Elvis Presley and the Women Who Loved Him. In the New York Times‘ review of the book, Janet Maslin noted that the book contains a series of pictures of Elvis’ girlfriends, who all share one unsettling physical trait.

“The pictures tell a powerful story,” Maslin writes. “He worked his way through a lifetime’s worth of women who looked like his brown-haired, soulful-eyed mother, Gladys.”

The same review quotes Lamar Fike, a close associate of Elvis, with this observation of Elvis’ fixation with Priscilla:

“I’ll give you Elvis’ relationship with Priscilla in a nutshell. You create a statue. And then you get tired of looking at it,” Fike told Nash.

 

11 Rock Stars Who Allegedly Slept With Underage Girls

Iggy Pop
Iggy Pop was one of baby groupie Sable Starr’s many celebrity lovers. There’s no ambiguity here — besides the many pictures of the two together, Iggy wrote a song, “Look Away,” from the 1996 album Naughty Little Doggy, about their relationship. “I slept with Sable when she was 13 / Her parents were too rich to do anything / She walked her way around L.A. / Till a New York Doll carried her away.”

(Starr moved to New York City to live with New York Dolls member Johnny Thunders at age 16, and their relationship ended in a torrent of abuse. “After I was with him, I just wasn’t Sable Starr anymore. He really destroyed the Sable Starr thing. Se made me throw away all my diaries and all my phone numbers down the incinerator, and he ripped up my scrapbook,” she says in Please Kill Me: the Uncensored Oral History of Punk.)

Now, Iggy Pop is about 10 years Sable’s elder. “Look Away” is a mournful song, a blurry reminiscence through a hazy lens. Iggy seems to carry a little shame at how he treated Sable, and how when he saw a nasty situation developing between the teenager and the New York Doll, he simply ignored it — looked away.

“I found her in a back street with her looks half gone / she was sellinsomething that I was on,” he sings. He later concludes the story, “So a few years later Thunder died broke /  Sable had a baby back at her folks / Me, I went straight and serious too / There wasn’t much else that I could do.”

11 Rock Stars Who Allegedly Slept With Underage Girls

Mick Jagger
Lori Maddox relates a story about having BDSM-flavored sex with Jagger when she was 17.

“I remember being 17 and hanging out at the Record Plant in LA. I was friends with the owner and everybody recorded there. I saw three of the Beatles with Mick Jagger and Stevie Wonder having this great jam session. But then Mick started fighting with McCartney or Lennon over who would sing on a particular song. Mick got pissed off. He took me to one of the bondage-themed bedrooms that the studio had. Mick said, “Let’s go fuck and get high.” We did blow all night and talked and hung out until the morning. We tried to have sex all night, but, at a certain point, he couldn’t get hard anymore. We were both very high. Another time, Mick [had me] on a bathroom floor while Bianca was getting ready for surgery. The sex was very consensual.”

 

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Tales of Rock – Lou Reed was a Violent, Racist, Woman-Beating Prick

Nobody really expects rock musicians to be nice people. The Velvet Underground front man Lou Reed, however, was more than an asshole. According to a recent biography written by Howard Sounes, he was some kind of monster.

Sounes doesn’t use the word lightly. After Reed’s death in 2013, Sounes, who was a huge fan, set out to write a glowing biography, for which he interviewed more than 140 people — and every single one of those interviews broke off another little piece of Sounes’ heart. Though he wanted to be as kind as possible to his musical hero, Sounes was forced “to go where the story goes.” And here’s where the story went: Reed was apparently a violent, racist, misogynistic piece of shit. It’s known that he once told a journalist, “I don’t like niggers like Donna Summer” (and that should have been kind of a red flag right there), but according to those who knew him, he wore his racism on his sleeve. At one point, he referred to Bob Dylan as a “pretentious kike.” Yes, the guy who once released an hour of guitar feedback called someone else “pretentious.”

Reed’s relationships with women were more violent than a mosh pit. His ex-wife Bettye Kronstad told Sounes that Reed would occasionally get mad and pin her against a wall, shake her, hit her, and “then one time he actually gave me a black eye.” She wasn’t the only one. According to one of his childhood friends, Reed would often beat his girlfriends in public when they said something that displeased him. When the wife of the (presumably former) friend said something about it, Reed started hitting her too. Because Reed was an equal opportunity misogynist.

When Sounes approached filmmaker Paul Morrissey for an interview, Morrissey suggested for the book that “You need a good title like The Hateful Bitch [or] The Worst Person Who Ever Lived. Something that says this isn’t a biography of a great human being, because he was not … He was a stupid, disgusting, awful human being.” As Sounes recounted, “The word that kept coming up was prick. Girlfriends called him a prick, people he was at school with called him a prick; people in his band called him a prick.”

But man, wasn’t White Light / White Heat a great album?

 

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Tales of Rock – The remarkable story behind David Bowie’s most iconic feature

At the centre of it all, your eyes, your eyes …”

Many aspects of the life and incredible achievements of David Bowie will be considered in the weeks and months ahead following the news of his death. Yet the cryptic lyric above from the lead single on David Bowie’s new album is a reminder that the unusual appearance of his eyes was a key part of the singer’s star persona.

Indeed their iconic presence features in the advertising campaign for ★[Blackstar]. For many people it is that look – that the eyes formed a core part of – that will be an abiding memory of Bowie.

So, why were they apparently two different colours?

Complete heterochromia is a fairly rare condition (in humans) whereby each iris is a distinctly different colour, such as having one blue iris and the other brown.

But this isn’t why Bowie’s eyes looked different.

Instead, the unusual appearance of Bowie’s eyes were due to a condition called anisocoria. Anisocoria is a condition characterized by an unequal size in a person’s pupils. In Bowie’s case, his left pupil was permanently dilated.

This can create the illusion of having different coloured eyes because the fixed pupil does not respond to changes in light, while the right pupil does. So Bowie’s left eye often appeared to be quite dark, due to the blackness of his dilated pupil, when compared to the blue of his right iris.

The dilated pupil of his left eye was also potentially more prone to the effect of “red eye”. This sometimes adds to the appearance of a different color when contrasted to his right eye.

Red eye occurs when light reflects off of the fundus (the back of the eye), through an open pupil, and captures a red coloration by picking up tonality from the blood in the choroid lining of the eyeball.

This can clearly be seen in the Aladdin Sane – Eyes Open photograph by Brian Duffy (shot in 1973 but unpublished until 2011) that was used as the lead image on the posters for the V&A David Bowie is (2013) exhibition.

So what happened?

Anecdotally, the cause of Bowie’s anisocoria was attributed to the fallout from a lusty scrap in the spring of 1962. Bowie had come to blows with a friend, George Underwood, over a girl they were both hoping to date.

Both were just 15 at the time and their friendship seemingly remained intact. The two performed together in various bands before Underwood turned from music to painting and graphics. But Bowie’s left eye remained seriously damaged.

An impulsive punch had accidentally scratched the eyeball, resulting in paralysis of the muscles that contract the iris. From that day, Bowie’s left pupil remained in a fixed open position.

Over time, Bowie apparently thanked his friend for his notorious eye injury, telling Underwood that it gave him “a kind of mystique”. This mystique helped fuel some of Bowie’s greatest creations and enhance iconic images, such as the album cover for Heroes (1977).

His eyes could appear eerie and mismatched, producing a captivating or mesmeric gaze from on stage or through the lens of a camera. And the uncanny appearance of Bowie’s eyes was ideal for a performer who embraced ideas of the alien, the outsider, the otherworldly and the occult.

In an increasingly visual world seemingly preoccupied by perfection, Bowie’s damaged left pupil became an intrinsic and arresting part of his enigmatic identity.

 

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Tales of Rock – Tony Iommi

Birmingham was an industrial town in the Sixties, “much like our Detroit.” He had been welding, but grew infatuated with making music, playing guitar and accordion. When a band he was playing in wanted to tour Europe, he decided he’d take the rest of the day off from welding, but his mother sent him back to finish off the day. “They put me on a huge machine, a massive thing, and I didn’t know how to work it,” he said. “As I was pushing the metal into the machine, it came down with such a force and bang, it just chopped my fingers. There was blood going all over the place.”

A co-worker had put his fingertips in a matchbox and sent him to the hospital, but doctors told him he could never play again. “I was extremely depressed and very down,” he said. “The manager of the factory came to visit me at home…and then he told me the story about Django Reinhardt, who had lost his fingers.”

Feeling inspired, he created makeshift fingertips, invented light-gauge strings, dropped his tuning and explored a number of other ways he could play guitar. The combination led to an “aggressive, raw and fat” sound that became Black Sabbath’s signature style.

“Of course, losing my fingertips was devastating, but in hindsight it created something,” he said. “It made me invent a new sound and a different style of playing, and a different sort of music. Really, it turned out to be a good thing off a bad thing.”

Thank you Tony, for 45 years of joy!

 

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