Marilyn Manson rose to fame in the ’90s as a controversial rock singer and has remained famous for the past few decades — but things took a major turn in 2021 when his ex-fiancée Evan Rachel Wood accused him of sexual assault and abuse. Other women quickly came forward with their own allegations against Manson, and Manson’s label and agency dropped him.
Manson denied all allegations, and sued Wood for defamation and persuading other women to lie about him, but key parts of his lawsuit were thrown out in May, so it seems unlikely the suit will hold. Meanwhile, he was also accused of sexual assault of a minor back in the ’90s earlier this year as well as a misdemeanor assault of a videographer in 2019, which Manson is pleading no contest to.
In light of the wave of accusations and turning public opinion (Rolling Stone called him a “monster hiding in plain sight” in 2021), it seems unlikely Manson’s career will recover, even though some women’s cases have been dismissed or settled, and one victim recanted (a judge decided the victim’s new statements would not be used as evidence). He has not released music or appeared in film and television since 2021.
Public opinion of Kelly began to drastically shift, with protests outside his concerts and studio, and Spotify, Apple Music, and Pandora releasing statements that they would stop promoting his music — many members of Kelly’s personal team also quit. 2019’s six-episode documentary series Surviving R. Kelly further tarnished the star’s reputation, causing Kelly’s record company to drop him and upcoming shows to be canceled.
Soon after, Kelly was hit with aggravated criminal sexual abuse and assault charges against a minor, as well as sex trafficking and prostitution charges, and he was later found guilty and sentenced to 30 years in prison. In another trial, he was found guilty of child sexual abuse and pornography and sentenced to 20 years in prison (which — except for one — could be served concurrently with his 30-year sentence). Kelly is currently serving out his sentence.
Chris Brown suffered a major fall from grace after he was arrested on suspicion of making criminal threats following a pre-Grammys party he attended with then-girlfriend Rihanna. He was ultimately sentenced to five years of probation and community service, as well as domestic violence counseling. He later admitted to hitting and biting Rihanna in his car during an argument.
However, Brown is one of the examples from this list whose career made a pretty full recovery. His next album, F.A.M.E., debuted at number 1 on the Billboard 200 chart, which was his first album to do so. He still remains successful, though it’s true that there are still those who believe he doesn’t deserve to be. In fact, Brown complained earlier this year about people who “still hate” him for his “mistake.”
Gary Glitter enjoyed a decades-long career as a glam rock artist in the UK, and his legacy seemed overall cemented until he was arrested in the late ’90s on child sex image charges. He was found guilty and sentenced to only four months in prison, but his career never recovered. He moved to Cuba then Cambodia and afterwards Vietnam, where he was convicted for sexual abuse in 2016. Glitter claimed the charges were a conspiracy and he was innocent. He was sentenced to three years in prison, but was deported to the UK after two and a half.
Singer-songwriter Ryan Adams, who was well-known for championing young female artists’ careers, was accused by several women (including ex-wife Mandy Moore) in 2017 of “dangling career opportunities while simultaneously pursuing female artists for sex.” If the women refused, he allegedly grew angry and resorted to emotional and verbal abuse as well as harassment. Adams did apologize but did not specifically confirm allegations. “I am fully accountable for my harmful behavior, and will be for my actions moving forward,” he wrote in a public apology. He was also investigated for an online sexual relationship with a minor, but charges were not filed.
Adams’s career suffered greatly, with Adams releasing his next two albums through his own label (the albums did not chart in America or England) and taking to social media with desperate pleas for labels to sign him. “I just really want a second chance to make some music — maybe help other people believe you can get up out of the gutter and be something,” he wrote, saying he was close to becoming homeless.
In 2022, Adams performed a sold-out show at Carnegie Hall, but did not invite any journalists. He has a new team, including crisis-PR specialist Howard Bragman, who spoke to Variety, saying, “We want to show that he has a real team behind him that believes in him and supports him, and that he’s putting a life together. We want people to notice, and if they want to move forward with him, here’s where we are.” He recently announced a North American tour, so time will tell if he is able to make a comeback.
Nick Carter rose to prominence in the ’90s with boy band the Backstreet Boys. He then embarked on a successful solo career, but things took a turn for Carter in 2017. After a report that Carter had allegedly sexually assaulted a fan in 2006, former Dream member Melissa Schuman wrote a blog post accusing Carter of sexually assaulting her in 2003, and later sued him for sexual assault and battery.
Last year, Shannon Ruth also sued Carter for sexual battery for an alleged incident from 2001. Following all the allegations, ABC canceled a holiday special with the Backstreet Boys. Carter, for his part, has denied all allegations, and recently announced his first solo tour in seven years — so time will tell if he’s able to make a comeback.
Canadian Chinese singer Kris Wu rose to fame through the Canadian Korean boy band Exo before finding major success as a solo artist. He also made waves as an actor, appearing in the Vin Diesel film XXX: Return of Xander Cage as well as many Chinese films. But in 2021, the 30-year-old Wu was accused of sexual assault of a 17-year-old two years prior. He denied the allegations, but was arrested and ultimately sentenced to 13 years in prison, though he is currently attempting to appeal the conviction.
Another international musician who ruined his own career with (alleged) sexual assault was Sigur Rós drummer Orri Páll Dýrason. Artist Meagan Boyd accused Dýrason in an Instagram post of raping her in 2013. Dýrason denied the allegations, but quickly left the band, writing on Facebook, “I will do anything in my power to get myself out of this nightmare, but out of respect for those actually suffering from sexual violence, I will not take that fight public.”
Trey Songz has a long history of being accused of sexual assault, domestic violence, disorderly conduct, and aggravated assault over the years (as well as sexual intimidation by Keke Palmer), but it seemed like the public and the industry largely ignored these allegations. WNBA player Dylan Gonzalez’s 2022 allegations seemed to turn the tide, with two more sexual assault allegations following, including a rape case that was initially dismissed because it was past the statute of limitations but has since been refiled, and one which had video evidence released by TMZ.
In this second instance, where a woman claims Songz groped her and pulled her bra off in public, she is seeking $10 million. Songz also accepted a plea deal for a recent physical assault charge. With the wave of accusations dominating the news cycle, and no new album on the horizon, it seems unlikely Songz’s career will recover anytime soon.
Obviously, this isn’t at the level of sexual assault or misconduct, but R&B duo Milli Vanilli ruined their own careers when they were caught lip syncing at a Club MTV live performance in 1989. The opening lines of their track “Girl You Know It’s True” began to repeat over and over again after the sound system broke down, revealing that they were not singing live.
One half of the duo, Rob Pilatus, admitted that the concert “was the beginning of the end for Milli Vanilli,” though they did continue to find success after the incident. Still, it led to them eventually being exposed as frauds who hadn’t, in fact, sang on any of their hit records…leading the Grammys to revoke their Best New Artist award and their career to end.
And finally, Ashlee Simpson also largely ruined her career after being caught lip syncing on Saturday Night Live in 2004. When the wrong track began to play (the same one she’d already performed), Simpson did not sing, and instead did a strange dance. She later blamed the band before saying she’d lost her voice due to acid reflux and was ordered by doctors not to sing.
The singer’s career did continue, but it was definitely affected, and did not see the same momentum as it had pre-scandal. Her second album did not sell even close to as well as the first, and a 2005 Orange Bowl performance saw her getting booed by the crowd. While Simpson did end up appearing on SNL again, these days she is perhaps best-known for the lip-syncing incident over any of her music.