In the wake of allegations Hedley frontman Jacob Hoggard sexually assaulted a girl — not yet tested in court — it may be worth asking whether the rock ’n’ roll industry has had a problem with men lusting after children in the past.
Taking a glance at music lyrics through the decades, it’s easy to find examples of men singing about young girls — and even acknowledging the illegal nature of their affections.
In 1968, Gary Puckett & The Union Gap landed in the number 2 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 with its hit Young Girl about a man who finds himself attracted to a girl.
With all the charms of a woman
You’ve kept the secret of your youth
You led me to believe you’re old enough
To give me love
And now it hurts to know the truth
So hurry home to your mama
I’m sure she wonders where you are
Get out of here
Before I have the time
To change my mind
‘Cause I’m afraid we’ll go too far
The same year, the Rolling Stones sang about a 15-year-old girl in Stray Cat Blues, and about resorting to willful blindness.
I don’t care that you’re 15 years old
I don’t want to see no ID
It ain’t no hangin’ matter
Ain’t no capital crime.
And in 1978, rock superstars Kiss released Christine Sixteen.
I don’t usually say things like this to girls your age
But when I saw you coming out of the school that day
That day I knew, I knew
I’ve got to have you, I’ve got to have you
Meanwhile, a 32-year-old Ted Nugent kicked off the ’80s with the brazenly titled 1981 hit Jailbait.
Well, I don’t care if you’re just 13
You look too good to be true
I just know that you’re probably clean.
As late as 1996, the Godfather of Punk Iggy Pop, then 49 years of age and enjoying a resurgence thanks to Trainspotting (a film in which a man has sex with a high school girl), released Look Away.
I slept with Sable when she was 13
Her parents were too rich to do anything
She walked her way around L.A.
Till a New York Doll carried her away.
The song was about Iggy Pop’s real-life relationship with groupie Sable Starr in 1970 when she was 13 and he was 23.
The phenomenon is prominent enough in rock music that it features in the mockumentary Spinal Tap with the song Tonight I’m Gonna Rock You Tonight.
You’re sweet, but you’re just four feet
And you still got your baby teeth
KiSS 92.5 Program Director Adam Thompson said past works are being re-examined with a new lens in the music industry and beyond.
“There’s definitely retroactive examination going on in art in general,” he said. “What used to seem innocuous or used to feel normal now in retrospect kind of sounds predatory or doesn’t seem comfortable anymore.”