In a new interview with The Independent, singer-songwriter Sheryl Crow opened up about sexual harassment that she faced while touring with Michael Jackson during the late '80s. Joining his first solo world tour in 1987 was a huge career step for the future Grammy winner, and while Crow credits that experience with kickstarting her path to stardom, she also explained that she faced repeated sexual harassment from Jackson's manager, Frank DiLeo. "Naiveté is such a beautiful thing," Crow said. "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 explained that there were tabloid stories at the time claiming that Jackson had fallen in love with her, his "sexy backing singer," and had offered her $2 million to have his baby. However, Crow believes that those stories were planted by DiLeo and that the manager was the one who had been interested in her. Crow revealed that DiLeo repeatedly propositioned her, promising to make her a star if she complied and to destroy her fledgling career if she said no. Crow did say no and returned home to Los Angeles in '89, feeling lower than ever.
"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," Crow explained. "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." Crow referenced the abuse that she endured from DiLeo in her 1993 debut album Tuesday Night Music Club, including the lyrics "Frank DiLeo's dong / Maybe if I'd have let him I'd have had a hit song." DiLeo died at the age of 63 in 2011 from complications after heart surgery.
Crow goes on to explain that her memoir Words + Music "was the first time I've ever talked about it and 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?"