The Horrible Truth of Rock’n’Roll and Exploitation of Young People

You may have read the awful story of Jackie Fox of the Runaway and the rape she suffered at the hands of her manager, the late Kim Fowley. NPR takes this look at how young people are exploited in the pursuit of rock’n’roll.

Here’s the truth: The history of rock turns on moments in which women and young boys were exploited in myriad financial, emotional and sexual ways. This most sordid secret history lurks in the background, but it’s not incidental: from the teen-scream 1950s onward, one of the music’s fundamental functions has been to frame and express sexual feelings for and from the very young, and its culture has included real kids, the kind who feel free but remain very vulnerable, relating to older men whose glamour and influence encourages trust, not caution. The worst, weakest and most self-deluded of these men have stepped over moral lines, over and over again. It happened in the early 1960s, when, according to Patti LaBelle, her fellow soul great Jackie Wilson attempted to assault her — then a teenage member of the Bluebelles — backstage at a show. It’s happening now, with 23-year-old Warped Tour performer Jake Mcelfresh (who performs as Front Porch Step) facing accusations of sending explicit texts to girls as young as 13.

Keep reading. It’s important stuff.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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