Singer Sheryl Crow says she was sexually harassed by Michael Jackson's manager

Sheryl Crow claims that Frank DiLeo threatened to end her career if she rejected his advances.
Sheryl Crow claims that Frank DiLeo threatened to end her career if she rejected his advances.PHOTO: SHERYLCROW/INSTAGRAM

Singer Sheryl Crow, who had toured with superstar Michael Jackson in the late 1980s at the start of her career, has opened up about the sexual harassment she faced from his manager, Frank DiLeo.

The nine-time Grammy Award winner, 59, said in an interview with British newspaper The Independent last Saturday (June 12): "Naivete is such a beautiful thing."

She got her big break in 1987 after she auditioned successfully for the King of Pop's first solo world tour as a back-up singer.

"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," she said. "But I also got a crash course in the music industry."

At the time, she recalled, there were tabloid stories that Jackson had fallen in love with his "sexy backing singer" and even offered her US$2 million to have his baby.

She refuted the rumours in her memoir audiobook Words + Music, which came out last September, and speculated that the stories were planted by DiLeo "to make Mike look like he was interested in women".

She claimed that DiLeo promised to make her a star and threatened to end her career if she rejected his advances, which she did in 1989, after which she suffered a lengthy bout of depression.

In her interview with The Independent, she said: "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.

"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."

In her 1993 debut album Tuesday Night Music Club, she had included two references to DiLeo.

What I Can Do For You was written from the perspective of an abuser, while The Na-Na Song featured a line: "Frank DiLeo's dong / Maybe if I'd have let him I'd have had a hit song."

She revealed that 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".

She added: "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?"