Sheryl Crow speaks out on the ‘long bout of sexual harassment’ she says she faced from Michael Jackson’s manager

Sheryl Crow and Michael Jackson
  • Sheryl Crow was featured in a new interview with The Independent on Saturday.
  • Crow said she was sexually harassed by Frank DiLeo, Michael Jackson’s manager.
  • Crow, 59, toured with Michael Jackson in the late 1980s as a backup singer.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Sheryl Crow opened up about the sexual harassment she said she faced from Michael Jackson’s late manager in the late 1980s.

On Saturday, The Independent published an interview with Crow that explored sexism in the music industry and the early days of her career. Crow, 59, recalled when she auditioned as a backup singer for Michael Jackson’s 1987 “Bad” world tour.

“Naiveté is such a beautiful thing,” Crow told the publication. “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 said that tabloids at the time pushed rumors that Jackson had fallen for his “sexy backing singer” and had offered her $2 million to have his child. But Crow said that Jackson’s manager, Frank DiLeo, was the one who was interested in her.

Sheryl Crow joins Michael Jackson to perform on stage on his BAD tour at Wembley Stadium.
Sheryl Crow performed with Michael Jackson during in Bad tour. Pete Still/Getty Images

Crow told The Independent that DiLeo sexually harassed her throughout the tour, promising to make her a star while threatening to end her career if she refused or told anyone.

Crow has never given explicit details about the incidents, but she referenced DiLeo on two songs from her debut 1993 album, “Tuesday Night Music Club.” “What I Can Do for You” was written from the perspective of an abuser, and “The Na-Na Song” mentions DiLeo by name.

“Frank DiLeo’s dong / Maybe if I’d have let him I’d have had a hit song,” Crow sang.

Crow told The Indepent that her 2020 Audible Original “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.”

Crow told Billboard in 2019 that DiLeo filed a lawsuit against her for the references in the two songs, but he died in August 2011 before it could get far.

“Frank DiLeo … filed a lawsuit against me. Then he died of a massive coronary,” she said. Crow also told Yahoo News in September 2020: “At the time when I spoke about it, yeah, I got myself into some trouble. And then I wouldn’t say luckily, certainly not for him, but Frank passed away. So whatever legal ramifications died when he passed away.”

Representatives for Crow did not respond to Insider’s request for comment in time for publication.

Crow said she returned to her Los Angeles apartment after Jackson’s tour ended in 1989 and fell into a “lengthy period” of depression.

“You move to LA thinking you’ve done all your homework,” said Crow. “You’ve practiced your whole life, you’ve listened to the greatest artists, you’ve played in coffee bars, and then you get out there and you learn: ‘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.”

Crow added: “I think when your dream bubble is burst you either go: ‘Okay, well, I’m going to forget that dream,’ or you do what I did, which was wallow in it for about a year, and then you pull your bootstraps up and you get back to work.”

Sheryl Crow during The 35th Annual GRAMMY Awards at Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, California.
Sheryl Crow has won nine Grammy Awards during her career. KMazur/Getty Images

Crow later emerged as a successful musician with nine Grammy awards.

More than three decades after the tour ended, Crow said it was “really interesting” to look at those early experiences through the lens of the MeToo movement.

“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,” said Crow.