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‘Jesus, what have I done?’: Rock star Steve Tyler’s traumatic encounter with abortion

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‘Jesus, what have I done?’: rock star Steve Tyler’s traumatic encounter with abortion
by Kevin Burke

May 4, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Long before he won accolades as an American Idol judge, Steven Tyler was a bona-fide rock star, with all that that implied. In 1975, when he was in his late 20s and the lead singer for the band Aerosmith, Tyler persuaded the parents of his 14-year-old girlfriend, Julia Holcomb, to make him her legal guardian so that they could live together in Boston.

Steve Tyler was haunted for years by the abortion his girlfriend underwent when he was in his late 20s.

When Miss Holcomb and Tyler conceived a child, his longtime friend Ray Tabano convinced Tyler that abortion was the only solution. In the Aerosmith “autobiography,” Walk This Way (in which recollections by all the band members, and their friends and lovers, were assembled by the author Stephen Davis), Tabano says: “So they had the abortion, and it really messed Steven up because it was a boy. He ... saw the whole thing and it [messed] him up big time.”

Tyler also reflects on his abortion experience in the autobiography. “It was a big crisis. It’s a major thing when you’re growing something with a woman, but they convinced us that it would never work out and would ruin our lives. ... You go to the doctor and they put the needle in her belly and they squeeze the stuff in and you watch. And it comes out dead. I was pretty devastated. In my mind, I’m going, Jesus, what have I done?”

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders defines a traumatic event as follows: “1. The person experienced, witnessed, or was confronted with an event or events that involved actual or threatened death or serious injury, or a threat to the physical integrity of self or others. 2. The person’s response involved intense fear, helplessness, or horror.”

Those who support abortion rights assure us that post-abortion complications are a myth. But Steven Tyler cuts through this fog of denial and lays it on the line: Jesus, what have I done?

This is the cry of a post-abortive father whose very intimate exposure to the reality of abortion fits the textbook definition of trauma — as set down by the very same American Psychiatric Association that assures us abortion is a safe procedure with no negative effects on a man’s or a woman’s mental health.


What happens to someone who is exposed to a traumatic event and fails to process the images and memories of that experience and heal the psychic wounds? The person is likely to go numb, run, and act out the unresolved themes of the trauma.

There is no easier occupation in which to react this way to post-abortion trauma than that of a rock star in the 1970s and ’80s.

After the abortion, Tyler began a torrid affair with Playboy model Bebe Buell while still seeing Julia, the mother of his aborted son. If you were wondering what happened to Julia (who is referred to as Diana Hall in the book) after this purportedly psychologically safe procedure, Bebe tells us: “There were many suicidal calls from poor Diana as they were breaking up. It was actually a pretty sad time.”

And how was Steven coping?

He went on a European concert tour, accompanied by Bebe, who tells us: “He was crazy ... totally drunk, really out of it. ... Steven destroyed his dressing room at Hammersmith ... when we got back from Europe. ... One night I found him on the floor of his bathroom having a drug seizure. He was writhing in pain.”

This was followed by Steven’s “Tuinal days” — a period he spent stoned on massive doses of the barbiturate. He says: “I would eat four or five a day ... and be good for a couple of months ... which is why that period is blackout stuff.”

This is the dysfunctional recipe for dealing with post-traumatic stress: Take heavy doses of drugs to numb the memories and feelings — and throw in a portion of toxic rage at bandmates and hotel rooms. Anger, especially in men, is often an undiagnosed sign of depression and repressed grief that needs a healthy expression and healing. Many post-abortive fathers tell us that anger management was a major problem for them after their abortions.

Then Bebe Buell became pregnant with Tyler’s child. She realized it would be impossible to raise a child with him given his out-of-control substance abuse and rock-and-roll lifestyle. She returned to her former lover, the composer, producer, and recording artist Todd Rundgren, who agreed to act as father of the child and keep Tyler’s fatherhood a secret. Their daughter, who grew up to be the actress Liv Tyler, was born on July 1, 1977.


For many post-abortive men and women, the anxiety associated with an abortion can surface at unexpected times, triggered by events such as a subsequent pregnancy, the death of a pet or a loved one, or some other person, place, or thing that in some way connects with the traumatic memory.

Years later, when Tyler married, and he and his wife were expecting their first child, he was still haunted by the abortion: “It affected me later. ... I was afraid. I thought we’d give birth to a six-headed cow because of what I’d done with other women. The real-life guilt was very traumatic for me. Still hurts.”

At Rachel’s Vineyard Ministries, we often see men and women many years after their abortion, when they are ready to take a look at this secret and shadowy corner of their souls. Most people cannot make sense of the fragmented, disjointed pieces of their post-abortive lives until they attend a healing program. Tragically, the spin doctors of our pro-abortion culture work overtime to make sure that these connections are never made.

Despite the opposition, post-abortive parents, grandparents, and siblings are finding their way to healing programs around the world. As they travel together through the healing process, they learn from and support one another. They discover that the fragmented pieces of their lives start fitting together and making sense. This may be one of the reasons that it is so difficult to counter the propaganda of the pro-abortion movement. It is often only after the healing journey that post-abortive men and women can see the intimate connection between their abortions and their emotional problems, addictions, and other post-abortion symptoms.


I grew up with the music of Aerosmith as a teenager in the 1970s and continue to have a great respect for the songwriting ability and performing talent of Steven Tyler. His actions in the abortion of his son were very wrong, and he suffered the consequences, as his life descended into a quagmire of addiction and self-destruction. Fortunately, Tyler was successfully treated for his drug addiction in 1986.

At the heart of post-abortion healing is the cleansing of a wounded heart. The post-abortive parent must be free of shame, guilt, and grief before he or she can embrace the unborn child with love. Let us hope and pray that this rock star and Idol judge can make peace with his abortion loss and find forgiveness and reconciliation with God and his aborted son — and that he will then use his considerable talent and influence to call other post-abortive fathers to healing.

— Kevin Burke, LSW, is the co founder of Rachel’s Vineyard Ministries and a Pastoral Associate of Priests for Life. This article first appeared on National Review Online.

Yes, you are welcome here! Embrace life.


EXCLUSIVE: Rock star Steve Tyler’s ex-fiancee breaks decades-long silence on abortion, relationship
by John Jalsevac

May 21, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com)
– When Julia Holcomb was sixteen she and a friend contrived to meet - and seduce - Steve Tyler, the frontman of the multi-platinum-selling band Aerosmith, and now co-host of American Idol.

Holcomb’s gambit was more successful than she could have imagined. She and Tyler met backstage after an Aerosmith
show, and what followed was a passionate and drug-fuelled three-year
relationship that nearly culminated in marriage, even though Holcomb was
a full decade younger than the rock star. But the affair eventually
spun out of control and ended explosively after Holcomb was pressured
into aborting Tyler’s unborn child.

The iconic photo showing Julia Holcomb and Steve Tyler together.

Until now the few known details about the relationship have come from Tyler and his band mates, as found in the band’s memoirs, Walk This Way, or Tyler’s recent autobiography, Does the Noise in my Head Bother You?

For her part, Holcomb has conscientiously maintained a several
decades-long silence, leaving many wondering what ever became of her.
The last public word about her fate appears to have come from one of
Tyler’s subsequent girlfriends, who spoke of “suicidal phone calls” from
Holcomb to the rock star while he was on tour. But now she has broken
her silence, in a brief 5,000-word memoir published by LifeSiteNews.com in cooperation with Rachel’s Vineyard Ministries, a ministry for post-abortion healing.

Holcomb’s story is at turns astonishing and disturbing - but, for her
at least, has a happy ending. Unbelievably, from the young, confused
girl who once set out to seduce a rock star, Holcomb has since become a
devout and happily-married Catholic mother of seven children – and is
fiercely pro-life.

But the journey from the dark years of her late teenagehood to the present is one that she says she nearly didn’t survive.

“I became lost in a rock and roll culture,” she recounts. “In
Steven’s world it was sex, drugs, and rock and roll … I didn’t know it
then, but I would barely make it out alive.”

Holcomb, who is publishing her memoir under her maiden name to
protect her family’s privacy, explains that she chose to tell her story
after her relationship with Tyler received renewed attention through
Kevin Burke’s recent National Review article discussing her abortion, as well as Tyler’s newly-published autobiography.

“I decided it was time to tell my story honestly, to the best of my
memory, hoping to bring closure and peace to this period of my life,”
she writes. She also says that she hopes to correct what she calls the
“gross exaggeration” in Tyler’s accounts of their escapades.

Holcomb also says that she hopes her account of her abortion, and the
painful aftermath, will help those who have had or who have
participated in abortions to find healing and peace.

(Click here to read Julia Holcomb’s complete memoir, The Light of the World)

Young and confused

The topic of abortion comes up more than once in Julia’s story: she herself narrowly escaped being aborted.

Her mother found out she was pregnant with Julia in the midst of a
volatile marriage with an unstable and philandering gambler, who
abandoned his children when they were toddlers. Family members
encouraged her to get a (then-illegal) abortion.

“Thankfully she gave birth to me and later to my younger brother, and was a loving mother,” says Julia.

An alcoholic stepfather followed the gambling father. And then
tragedy struck when a car accident killed Julia’s younger brother and
grandfather, and injured Julia, her sister, and her grandmother - an
event that eventually landed her stepfather for a spell in a mental
institution, and precipitated a divorce.

Whereas prior to the divorce Julia’s mother regularly brought her
children to church and prayed with them, after the divorce she seemed
“wounded and disillusioned with life,” says Julia. She took up with
another man, Julia’s second stepfather, with whom she did not initially
get along.

Feeling unmoored, 15-year-old Julia drifted away from her family, making new friends at the local Teen Center.

Meeting Steve Tyler, and the pregnancy

One of these new friends was a 24-year-old woman who had access to
backstage passes for rock concerts. Julia described this friendship as
“pivotal” and “one of the most dangerous friendships I ever formed.”

This new friend “quickly taught me to dress in revealing clothes to
get noticed and use sex as a hook to try to catch a rock star.”
Evidently Julia learned well, for she caught Tyler - hook, line, and

“I fell hard. And I fell heavy. And I fell so in love.” That’s how Tyler describes what happened after he met Julia, in his autobiography.

So thoroughly was Tyler smitten with his 16-year-old beauty that he
began to consider marrying her, and even convinced Julia’s mother to
grant him guardianship over her, so that he could take her with him
across state lines.

After a few months together, Tyler confided to Julia that he wanted
to have a child. “I was touched by his sincerity and said yes,” she
writes. “I wanted children, and began to believe he must truly love me
since he had made himself my guardian and was asking to have children
with me.”

Tyler threw Julia’s birth control pills over the balcony of their hotel room, and within a year she was pregnant.

The fire and the abortion

But things started to fall apart after Tyler took Julia with him to
meet his parents. After his parents and grandmother expressed
reservations about their marriage, due to Julia’s youth, the couple had a
fierce argument, and Tyler changed his mind.

Within weeks he was back on the road touring, while she was left back
home in his apartment “alone and pregnant … with no money, no
education, no prenatal care, no driver’s license and little food.” It
was also around this time that Tyler reportedly took up with Playboy
model Bebe Buell.

Then came the fire.

One day, says Julia, while on tour Tyler sent an old highschool
friend and former bandmate to the apartment to bring Julia shopping. The
next thing she says she remembers is waking up in a dense cloud of
smoke. The apartment was on fire.

Julia narrowly escaped with her life, in near-miraculous
circumstances. After finding all exits impassable, Julia suddenly
recalled fire safety advice from a Bill Cosby commercial, and crawled
into an unused fireplace over which hung a picture of Jesus inherited
from her grandmother. Tyler later returned that picture to Julia,
telling her it was the only thing in the apartment that survived the

Julia was rescued from the burning building by firemen, and landed in
the hospital with severe smoke inhalation. Tyler was told that she
might not make it. But she pulled through, as did her unborn baby.

That’s when the pressure began.

According to Julia, Tyler came into her hospital room and told her
that she needed an abortion “because of the smoke damage to my lungs and
the oxygen deprivation I had suffered.” But Julia said no, repeatedly.
She wanted the baby. Plus, she was already five months pregnant.

At that point, Tyler relented and told her she could go back to her
mother and have the baby. But Julia says she was concerned that her
family wouldn’t want her to have the baby either. With no money, and no
expectation that Tyler would help provide for her and the baby, she gave
in to his wishes.

Julia describes the abortion as “a horrible nightmare I will never
forget.” Tyler was with her throughout the abortion, but was doing
cocaine the whole time, and therefore seemed “emotionally detached,” she

She would learn, however, that Tyler was not as detached as he might have appeared.

In Walk this Way, he remembered the traumatic event: “You go
to the doctor and they put the needle in her belly and they squeeze the
stuff in and you watch. And it comes out dead. I was pretty devastated.
In my mind, I’m going, Jesus, what have I done?” However, Julia writes
that Tyler told her after the abortion that, rather than coming out
dead, their baby had actually been born alive, and then allowed to die.

“My baby had one defender in life; me, and I caved in to pressure
because of fear of rejection and the unknown future,” says Julia. “I
wish I could go back and be given that chance again, to say no to the
abortion one last time. I wish with all my heart I could have watched
that baby live his life and grow to be a man.”

A new life

After the abortion, “nothing was the same” between Julia and Tyler.
Eventually she moved back in with her mother, “a broken spirit.” She
says she couldn’t sleep without having nightmares of the abortion and
the fire.

But she soon came to realize that her second stepfather, whom she had
previously disliked, was trying to be a good husband and father, and
came to respect him. Julia started going to church with them – a United
Methodist church in the area – and began participating in youth events
at the church.

She soon went to college, and it was there that she met her future husband, Joseph.

“Today,” she writes, “I am a pro-life Roman Catholic, the mother of
seven children, and this year my husband and I will celebrate our 30th
wedding anniversary. Joseph and I have six children of our own, and I
give thanks for each of them, as they are truly a gift from God.” The
couple are also legal guardians to a young girl, who was born from a
difficult pregnancy, but whose mother decided to choose life.

Julia describes her husband as “my true hero.” “He has been a loving
husband, a generous father, and hard-working provider for our family. My
husband loves me and has forgiven me from his heart and has not let my
past define his understanding of who I am as a person.”

Julia and her husband converted to the Roman Catholic faith in 1992.

Abortion never the answer

Julia says that she holds no bitterness for Tyler: “I pray for his
sincere conversion of heart and hope he can find God’s grace.”

Mostly, however, she says she just wants people to know that abortion is never the answer.

“Someone may say that my abortion was justified because of my age,
the drugs, and the fire,” she says. “I do not believe anything can
justify taking my baby’s life. The action is wrong. I pray that our
nation will change its laws so that the lives of innocent unborn babies
are protected.”

She concludes with these powerful words: “Our nation’s young girls,
especially those like me, who have experienced trauma and abuse, and are
vulnerable to exploitation should not be used as sexual playthings,
scarred by abortions to free their male partners from financial
responsibility, and then like their unborn children, tossed aside as an
unwanted object.

“Marriage and the family are the building blocks of all virtuous
societies. I learned this lesson in a trial by fire that taught me to
trust God’s plan no matter what occurs. I pray that our nation may also
find its way back to God by respecting the life of unborn children and
strengthening the sanctity of marriage.”

(Click here to read Julia Holcomb’s complete memoir)

Yes, you are welcome here! Embrace life.

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