Inside rock’s shocking abuse culture from raped teens to ‘guys fiddling with girls' boobs’ in underage clubs

Inside rock’s shocking abuse culture from raped teens to ‘guys fiddling with girls' boobs’ in underage clubs

September 13, 2021

ROCK and roll could now face its "moment of reckoning" after sensational claims of teenage sex abuse in a new documentary. 

Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler, Guns N’ Roses’ Axl Rose and others within the 70s and 80s music scene have been accused by a string of women.

Among the shocking claims are that Kim Fowley, a former record producer who died in 2015, drugged and raped one woman and masturbated over another. 

The women have bravely spoken out as part of Look Away, which airs on Sky Documentaries tonight, and filmmaker Sophie Cunningham believes it could empower more victims to speak up.

She told The Sun: “The music industry has not had its moment of reckoning yet but you only have to look and you will see how problematic things were and are.

“I think a lot of musicians will be worried. I think a lot of people in the entertainment industry will be worried too. 

“This is the tip of the iceberg, there are so many stories that I was told about the industry that couldn’t make it into the film too.” 

'Raped aged 12'

Survivors described the shocking scenes that unfolded in Los Angeles during the Seventies, where teenage girls were able to meet their rockstar idols.

Kari Krome was 12 when she first attended Rodney Bingenheimer’s English Disco, a bar on the Sunset Boulevard that allegedly served girls underage and was a popular spot with musicians.

They included Led Zeppelin, David Bowie, Iggy Pop and many others – none of whom were accused of any abuse in the documentary.

Kari explained: “There are so many stories about what went on… young girls walking around with their tops off and the guys just fiddling with their boobs and stuff. 

“There were a few teenagers that went in and out there that had some pretty hair-raising stories. I’m not the only one. 

“It was still late afternoon… I walked in and bam this guy got me. He took me in the back and just raped me.

Rock and roll is pretty much celebrated for its bad behaviour… it becomes normalised

"After he dusted me off and put me up on a barstool and said, ‘Here kid, have a coke.’”

Kari was paralysed with fear after the attack and struggled to comprehend what had happened.

She added: “Rock and roll is pretty much celebrated for its bad behaviour and when you see everyone around you doing it, it becomes normalised.” 

Rodney Bingenheimer, the venue’s owner, told doc makers they did not need to check attendees’ IDs because they served food and he was aware of any crime that took place on the premises.

Sleepover sex attack

Kari later went on to become a songwriter for the all-female rock band The Runaways, who were together from 1976 until 1979.

They were managed by Fowley, who convinced the band and Kari, then 15, to have a sleepover at his apartment. 

She said: “I was in a sleeping bag and Kim [Fowley] came out, he grabbed me by the ankle and dragged me across the floor into his bedroom.

You don’t even know what paedophilia is. You just know that it’s not good

“He was like, ‘Come in here and sleep with me’. I was like I didn’t want to…

"[Later] he came out of the bathroom and he was naked… pleasuring himself. He did it and he did it all over me. 

“Yes it was definitely paedophilia but when you’re young you don’t think that because you don’t even know what paedophilia is. You just know that it’s not good.”

Kari’s “self-esteem took a real beating” after the attack and later, she claimed Fowley threatened her to keep silent and prevented her from getting other opportunities in the industry.

'Spiked and raped'

Jackie Fuchs, The Runaways’ bass player, believes her drink was spiked and she was raped by the record producer – who she would only refer to as “Lord Voldemort”, Harry Potter's nemesis.

She claimed it happened at a motel party following their first gig on New Year’s Eve in 1975, just 11 days after her 16th birthday. 

Jackie didn't drink often and wouldn’t knowingly take drugs at that point because of her age.

However that night, she sipped from a bottle of beer left on the table and was noted by others to have become “drunk so fast”.

Our manager was raping me and there was a bunch of people watching

Soon after Jackie claimed she was instructed to take a Quaalude – a sedative – and remembered “feeling really dizzy and weird” so went to lay down on a bed.

She said: “I wasn’t a girl who partied with drugs, especially with all those people there. I think that drink was probably spiked.”

Jackie recalled being unable to move her lips and the next thing she knew was “our manager was raping me and there was a bunch of people watching”.

She continued: “There were three grown men in the room, one of them was facilitating the other one in committing horrible acts of sexual violence on a teenage girl.”

'Axl Rose attack'

Former Penthouse magazine model Sheila Kennedy claimed Axl Rose was abusive towards her and an unnamed model at a party in his hotel room.

She was 18, besotted with the Guns N’ Roses star, and wanted a “one-night stand” with him but it “turned into something really ugly”.

During the night, she recalled kissing the singer until he tried to instigate a threesome and, unimpressed, Sheila left the room. 

She awoke to “screaming, yelling and glass breaking” and Axl “verbally abusing the model” as she ran out of the apartment. 

I fall and as he’s pulling me, my knees are scraping against the shag rug

Then he came into the room she was staying in, having undergone a ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ transformation, and allegedly grabbed the back of her head.

Sheila recalled: “[Axl] literally starts pulling my hair and me through the hallway… I fall and as he’s pulling me, my knees are scraping against the shag rug…

“As I get to his room, he pulls me back up then all of a sudden he just tossed me on the bed, my legs are still bleeding and stuff, I’m still crying. 

“Within seconds he turns into a different person like now he’s quiet, he’s not screaming, he’s not yelling… he literally just starts apologising to me.”

Sheila claimed they had consensual sex later that night but later felt “shame”, “dirty”, “embarrassed and humiliated” by what had happened.

Axl Rose did not respond to requests for an interview or to comment on Sheila’s claims. 

In 1994, the musician was sued by a separate woman for assault and sexual battery – he denied the allegations and the case was settled out of court. 

Steven Tyler's teen lover

Julia Holcomb was 15 when she first heard Aerosmith’s 1973 hit Dream On, which “spoke to me like poetry” and soon became obsessed with the band’s lead singer.

She met a “notorious groupie” who promised to help her get backstage to meet Tyler if she wore a skimpy outfit.

Dressed in a swimsuit with a black lace shawl around her waist “looking like a Lolita”, the then 16-year-old met her idol and after talking until 3am, spent the night with him.

Tyler, who was 26 at the time, wanted to take Julia on tour but to do it needed to become her legal guardian, as she was not old enough to travel between states.

After convincing her mum – who was noted to be going through a difficult divorce and breakdown at the time – to sign the papers she travelled with Guns N’ Roses.

I felt really powerless… I was pleading with Steven to keep my baby

Julia recalled troubling moments including when she dressed up as Alice In Wonderland for Halloween, which she said made her look 12 years old, and claimed Tyler “was thrilled about it”.

She also claimed the rockstar convinced her to have a baby with him before ditching her after his grandmother refused to let them marry.

While pregnant, the house Julia was staying in caught fire and she had to be resuscitated by doctors after suffering high levels of smoke inhalation.

After that, she claimed Tyler forced her to have an abortion – despite her protests.

Julia said: “I felt really powerless… I was pleading with Steven to keep my baby… I felt just as much a victim as my baby because I was losing something that I wanted.”

Soon after, their relationship ended and she didn’t get to say goodbye to Tyler as his lawyers arranged a taxi to take her to the airport where her mother was waiting.

I was lost, I was in a world that was very dangerous and I barely escaped with my life

'I was in a dangerous world'

“There were many times when I thought, ‘My life’s wonderful and I’m so lucky to be in this relationship with Steven,’” Julia recalled. 

“But the truth was I was lost, I was in a world that was very dangerous and I barely escaped with my life.”

Steven Tyler also did not respond to the claims or request for an interview by the documentary team.

Cunningham hopes the film will encourage further scrutiny of the music industry and force change.

She told The Sun: “People put it down to the hedonism of the era and ‘Oh that’s just what happened back then,’ but nothing has changed. 

“I do hope there is a greater conversation and that people, like the incredible women in this film, have the opportunity to speak about their experiences if they wish to.”

Look Away airs at 9pm tonight on Sky Documentaries.

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