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Neurosis founding guitarist Scott Kelly retires from music after admitting to abuse of wife and children

Scott Kelly of Neurosis
(Image credit: Miikka Skaffari/FilmMagic)

Neurosis co-founder and guitarist Scott Kelly has announced his retirement from music after admitting to the abuse of his wife and children.

In a new statement posted to his personal Facebook page, Kelly speaks at length about the abuse, saying he has “engaged in the emotional, financial, verbal and physical abuse of my wife and younger children” for the past “several years”.

He writes: “When I became paranoid that people were going to find out [about the abuse], I found ways to keep my wife and kids from work and school and created divisions with friends and family members.

“I became obsessed with control and used threats, manipulation, threats of self-harm and suicide, inflicted physical damage on people and their reputations all to keep that control. When I knew my wife was going to leave I tried to convince her and others that I was crazy, and seeing things, and that I did not know what I was doing. 

“She tried to help me with therapy and psychiatrists. My lies and deceptions fell apart in front of the professionals. When my wife finally tried to leave, I stalked and harassed her day and night and caused her and our youngest to live in a constant state of fear.

“I have lied or told half truths to so many people about so much of this that I can’t keep track of them. I don’t want to lie about any of this anymore.”

He continues: “I love my wife to no end. She is the best person that I know. She is intensely honest, loving and good to her core. This letter is [a] massive simplification of the irreparable damage I have caused and the unforgivable things that I’ve done to her and our kids. To say more in this public forum would not help anyone. 

“As the truth has started to leak out there have been people who have tried to blame my wife for my abuse to give me an out and people who have spread ridiculous and damaging rumors about her. This is fucked. She deserves so much better. If you are adopting this mentality or spreading these rumors you need to fucking stop. I have some serious issues that I am dealing with and I have separated myself from anyone who is connected with my public life so that I can focus on my own toxic shit.”

Kelly adds that a recent “fucked up” situation “necessitated immediate action on my part to set the record straight”.

“I know now that choosing to live a public life and be onstage was the worst decision that I could have made given the way that I am. I have hidden behind the attention and unfounded respect and adulation. I used my social position to directly and indirectly manipulate all of you and to hide the abuse of my family. I got satisfaction from my deception and perceived control of everyone involved.”

Kelly concludes: “I am 100 percent permanently retired from being a professional musician. Some people can be in a scene like this where there is no accountability and maintain their integrity. I cannot. My sole focus for the rest of my life is on taking care of my family, allowing them safe space to heal and rebuilding their trust.”

Posted by scottkelly.music on 

Following Kelly’s statement, his Neurosis bandmates – Steve Von Till, Dave Edwardson, Noah Landis and Jason Roeder – responded with a message of their own, stating that they “cannot overstate the level of disgust and disappointment we feel for a man who we once called brother”.

In the post, they reveal that they professionally parted ways with Kelly in 2019 after discovering “severe acts of abuse committed towards his family over the previous years”.

“In the past, Scott had disclosed his marital difficulties and acts of verbal abuse, as well as his intention to get help and change his behaviors,” the statement reads. “The information we learned in 2019 made it clear Scott had crossed a line and there was no way back. 

“We did not share this information out of respect for his wife’s direct request for privacy, and to honor the family’s wish not to let their experience become gossip in a music magazine. With Scott’s Facebook post of August 27, 2022 disclosing much of this information publicly, we can finally say what we believe needs to be said.

“For the last twenty years we have lived far apart from one another and only saw Scott when meeting up to work on music or play shows. We had no idea what the reality was for his family when we were not around. By Scott's own admission, his abuse was intentional, targeted, and a closely guarded secret - even from those of us closest to him.

“Once we learned of his abuse it was difficult to reconcile the horrible information with the person we thought we knew. It’s not surprising he hid the abuse for so long because it is a betrayal of our ethics as bandmates, partners, parents, and human beings.

The band write that they have made numerous calls since 2019 to have an “honest talk about the status of the band and find out how he and his family were doing, but he has refused to speak with us for three years”. They add that Kelly’s new post was made without first communicating with them.

“To us, this decision seems like another attempt at manipulation, another opportunity for his narcissism to control the narrative. Don't allow Scott to make this about himself, it's about the abuse his family has suffered.

“Usually, we would view public openness and honesty about mental illness as brave and even productive. We just don’t believe that is the case here. 

“There is nothing brave about systematically abusing your wife and children. There is nothing brave about confessing wrongdoing when you have not done the work to change your behavior. There is nothing brave about refusing to speak honestly, or speak at all, with one’s closest friends and bandmates, people who have supported you and stuck by you for most of your life.

“Compared to the impact of Scott’s actions on his family, the impact on our band pales in significance. Nevertheless, with the heartbreak and horror we also grieve for the loss of our life’s work and a legacy that was sacred to us.”

Scott Kelly, bassist Dave Edwardson, and drummer Jason Roeder formed Neurosis in 1985, and released 11 studio albums.

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Matt is a Staff Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.