…And lived to sing the tale.

By Frank Donovan

Many artists come from difficult backgrounds: physical, verbal, and sexual abuse, freak accidents, illnesses, among other trials and tribulations. We’ve assembled 12 such musicians who rose up from the lowest of lows in their youth to create the music in adulthood that we all know and love. Let’s take a moment to recognize and appreciate their tenacity and openness in addition to their musical talents.

Michael Jackson
It’s no secret by now that MJ’s father Joe Jackson was verbally and physically abusive to his kids. Jackson went into detail on several occasions, including in the famous BBC special with Martin Bashir.

Brian Wilson
Similarly to MJ, The Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson suffered verbal and physical abuse at the hands of his father Murry Wilson. Wilson offers detailed accounts in his autobiography Wouldn’t It Be Nice, not to mention first-hand evidence in the audio of the Help Me Rhonda sessions.

50 Cent
When 50 Cent was just 8 years old, his mother was murdered. He was from then on raised by his grandparents.

Christina Aguilera
Aguilera and her mother were both abused by her father until they managed to leave for a new life in Pennsylvania when Aguilera was 6 years old. Her song “I’m Ok” alludes to the pain he caused.

Nicki Minaj
Nicki Minaj’s father abused drugs and alcohol and once set their house on fire while her mother was inside.

Eric Clapton
The first of several traumas in Clapton’s life came when Clapton was 9 years old and learned that the woman he thought was his sister was actually his mother. She had already remarried and had other children, and continued to play a sisterly role in his life.

Axl Rose
In addition to witnessing abuse of his mom, Axl Rose was sexually abused by his own father at age 2. “I…picked up a lot of distorted views that I’ve had to live my life with,” he told Rolling Stone in 2012.

Mary J Blige
At age 5, Blige was molested by a family friend. She’s said the trauma followed her all her life and led to alcohol and drug abuse as a teen.

Ray Charles
Charles had an incredibly traumatic childhood. At age 5 he witnessed his own brother’s death by drowning, and went blind the following year.

Ringo Starr
Ringo was a sickly child, in and out of the hospital for various afflictions for a cumulative 2 years. After one 6-month stint, he reached down to the floor to show a friend a toy bus he’d gotten for his birthday. He fell from the bed and ripped open all the stitches from surgery, forcing him to remain in the hospital another 6 months. After age 13 he never went back to school.

Tom Petty
Petty was beaten and verbally abused by his dad who wasn’t exactly understanding of his son’s interest in the arts, and preferred to take him on hunting trips. Petty has said he continues to have nightmares about father.

Fiona Apple
Read any interview …and you know she’s a tortured soul. She was raped at age 12, which she’s said has contributed to her self-loathing and an eating disorder.


    1. So many things in our world interferes with real love and results in violations. Number one is ignorance. Ignorance is destructive. 😞

  1. I know it exist terrible cases, Gratulation if they grow up and found theirs way’s.
    In my life exist dark days too.
    I’ve been singing since I was 6 years old. I was raped when I was 15, a sexual criminal on my way to school.
    In 2005 my villa was simply stolen from me, everything against all laws

    1. Thank you for stopping by Artistren. There is power within each of us to overcome-that’s what I believe. Being or coming into harmony with our inner selves, yields those gifts of talents. How nice it is that the celebrities mentioned here found their talent. But the talent in many cases doesn’t erase the emotional scars. What is a further pain, is when victims repeat the violations they themselves incurred on others. I hope that you’re in healing to the fullest. God bless you!

    2. When you mentioned villa or you referring to your home or an estate? Either way it is awful not to receive justice. But I and many others no that Justice is coming. Justice always come, it always has. Be faithful! 🙏💗🍃☕️☕️

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