Tori Amos was born Myra Ellen Amos on August 22, 1963 in Newton, North Carolina to a
Methodist minister, and his part-Cherokee wife. She was a child prodigy, learning the play the
piano at 2 years old, and beginning to sing in the church choir at 4. At the tender age of 5,
she was accepted into Baltimore, Maryland's Peabody Conservatory on a scholarship, the youngest
ever to do so. Tori was classically trained, but her heart was all rock n' roll, some of her
favorites being Led Zeppelin and the Beatles. Her musical preferences got her into trouble; she
was kicked out of the Conservatory for wanting to play rock music.
She would begin playing in bars and other places (wherever a gig was available), with the
supervision of her father. In high school, Tori would be popular, yet live her life on her own
terms...and be a self-defined "geek". She was voted homecoming queen, and Most Likely to
Succeed. She graduated from her Rockville, Maryland high school and moved to Los Angeles.
It was in Los Angeles that Tori's nightmare would happen. After playing a gig, she was
approached by a male fan who needed a ride home. What would transpire over the next few hours
is both deep tragedy, and music history. I will use a quote from Tori herself lay out the
horror of that night for you. "I'll never talk about it at this level again but let me ask
you. Why have I survived that kind of night, when other women didn't? How am I alive to tell
you this tale when he was ready to slice me up? In the song I say it was Me and a Gun but it
wasn't a gun. It was a knife he had. And the idea was to take me to his friends and cut me up,
and he kept telling me that, for hours. And if he hadn't needed more drugs I would have been
just one more news report, where you see the parents grieving for their daughter. And I was
singing hymns, as I say in the song, because he told me to. I sang to stay alive. Yet I
survived that torture, which left me urinating all over myself and left me paralyzed for years.
That's what that night was all about, mutilation, more than violation through sex." Tori would
bury this trauma deep inside herself for many years.
She would go on to form the hard rock group Y Kant Tori Read, a band that would feature musicians as talented and varied as Matt Sorum, and Vinnie Coaitula. However their self-titled album would flop commerically and critically. Most Tori fans agree that the music just did not showcase her talents. Nonetheless, many Tori fans are willing to pay up to a hundred bucks for a copy of the now really rare CD.
A few years would pass before Tori's talents would shine through finally. But before that could happen, Tori would be triggered back to that awful night in 1984. According to doctors, women who bury their rapes internally have to be "triggered" back to the event before they are ready or willing to begin to heal. For Tori, this trigger would be the movie Thelma and Louise. Of this, Tori said, " "people had to move away from me in the theater, just because I was, you know, sobbing. I was like a little well spring sitting there...I went to see Thelma and Louise, alone, on a whim, and my life changed. When Susan Sarandon killed the would-be rapist, I breathed for the first time in seven years." Tori would write the song Me and a Gun, detailing her rape, although taking poetic license and replacing the knife her rapist used, with a gun. Little did Tori know that this song would be the trigger for thousands upon thousands of survivors, allowing them to finally come to grips with what had happened to them.
In 1994, while touring in support for her second solo album, (titled "Under the Pink"), she
would get one of the most profound indications that her music, and particularly Me and a Gun
helped many. After one gig, she was approached backstage by a young fan who insisted that she
needed to join Tori on the tour. When asked why, the fan told Tori that she had been raped by
her step-father, would be raped by him the next night, and would be raped by him when she came
home that night. Tori was ready to oblige until her producer told her that they would be
crossing state lines...which would mean that everyone involved could be arrested for kidnapping
the girl. Tori realized these girls needed help, and she couldn't do it alone. So she
founded RAINN (the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National
Network), America's only nationwide toll free hotline for rape and sexual abuse
In January 1997, Tori played a benefit concert for RAINN, which included a duet on "Muhammad
My Friend" with Maynard James Keenan, the lead singer of the band Tool, who is also a sexual
abuse survivor. Tori continues to support RAINN, in a variety of ways. Any search for
rape/sexual abuse survivor sites will include many listings for sites that were inspired by
Tori's music, and her contributions to easing the pain of survivors everywhere. Her albums
continue to chart her healing, and her growth as a person. She truly is a gem, and as her fan,
I love and respect her. Check back at the site regularly...I hope to soon write an essay on my
own triggering, which partly involves Tori's song Silent All These Years.
RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) - 1.800.656.HOPE