In a world where women are starting to feel freer about sharing their #MeToo stories, Sheryl Crow says that she was sexually harassed by Michael Jackson‘s manager, Frank DiLeo and he vowed to sabotage her career if she didn’t comply with his requests.
She told The Independent that the incidents occurred on the 1987 Bad world tour, when she was a backup singer, calling it “a crash course in the music industry.”
At the tour’s end in 1989, Crow returned to Los Angeles, where a high-powered attorney she’d hired told her she should have put up with DiLeo’s advances given what he could offer her.
“You move to L.A. thinking you’ve done all your homework,” says Crow. “… ‘Okay, this is how the music industry works: a corporation buys so many records. It puts you in the top 10. We take your publishing.’ It was disillusioning.”
The tour was Crow’s first big break and Jackson’s first world solo tour, and in tandem with the harassment came the feeling that the experience was “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,” she said the paper.
Prior to Words + Music, Crow had never spoken directly about her experiences with DiLeo, but two songs on her 1993 debut album made reference to him: “What I Can Do for You,” written from the perspective of a powerful abuser, and the stream-of-consciousness “The Na-Na Song”, which includes the lyrics: “Frank DiLeo’s dong / Maybe if I’d have let him I’d have had a hit song.”
“It’s really interesting to go back and revisit some of this old stuff and the experiences that went along with it, and then to compare it with where we are now,” the nine-time Grammy winner said in the interview.
Crow added, “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 died in August 2011 following heart surgery at the age of 63. He managed Jackson both in the late 1980s and in 2009 prior to the singer’s death.