R. Kelly Wiki: A Timeline of the Rise and Fall of the Pied Piper of R&B

R&B singer R. Kelly has been the subject of countless accusations of sexual misconduct for many years now. As this R. Kelly wiki shows, since the 1990s, numerous women have come forward alleging that he engaged in inappropriate sexual behavior with them, usually when they were underage.

Despite all of the compelling accusations, alleged cover-ups, damning evidence, and investigations against him, the disgraced performer has continued to maintain his innocence.

About R. Kelly
Known AsRobert Sylvester Kelly
SpouseAaliyah 1994-1995,
Andrea "Drea" Lee 1996-2009
ChildrenJay Kelly, Joann Kelly, Robert Kelly Jr.
SiblingsCarey Kelly, Bruce Kelly, Theresa Kelly
ParentsJoanne Kelly

With the recent premiere of the Lifetime docu-series Surviving R. Kelly, a new light is being shed on past and present allegations of sexual assault against the singer.

This R. Kelly wiki details how the singer rose to fame and multi-million-dollar stardom, only to have everything he worked for start to come crashing down as allegations of his scandalous behavior with female minors piled up.

Where and How It All Began

Robert Sylvester Kelly was born on January 8, 1967 on the South Side of Chicago in a suburb called Hyde Park. He was the third of four children born to a single mother, Joanne Kelly, who was also a singer.

Growing up in the projects without a father meant that Kelly and his siblings often had to fend for themselves while their mother worked to support the family. In his 2012 memoir entitled Soulacoaster, he claimed that he was subjected to a lot of inappropriate sexual behavior from men and women who helped care for him and his siblings when they were young.

He wrote, “When my mother wasn’t around, the women ran a little freer… As I crept up in age…I found myself more curious and sometimes aroused, and I was ashamed of being aroused.”

Joanne raised her children as Baptists, which meant the notion of sex before marriage was condemned. According to traditional Baptist beliefs, the body is to be treated like a temple. R. Kelly was only eight years old when he allegedly started to be subjected to sexual abuse.

He wrote about one couple asking him to take Polaroids while they engaged in sexual intercourse. Kelly also admitted that he was repeatedly raped by one of the women who frequently spent time at the house where he and his siblings grew up while their mother was away at work. She was approximately 10 years his senior.

R. Kelly also wrote about a time when he was 14 years old and some older kids shot him in the shoulder in an attempt to steal his bicycle. But right before her death, his mother allegedly discredited this story. She claimed that the injury wasn’t from an attempted robbery, but that her son had tried to commit suicide. The bullet is still reportedly lodged in Kelly’s right shoulder.

R. Kelly’s School Days and Budding Career

Kelly briefly attended Kenwood Academy as a freshman starting in 1980, but he eventually dropped out. Believing he was destined to become a star basketball player, Kelly had a short stint on the school’s basketball team.

It was his music teacher, Lena McLin, who encouraged him to quit playing basketball altogether and become a singer instead. After performing Stevie Wonder’s 1982 hit Ribbon in the Sky at a school talent show, R. Kelly realized that he had an affinity for singing.

He began busking at Chicago L-train stations for money as a teenager. In 1989, Kelly gathered a few of his friends to form the R&B group Musically Gifted Men (MGM). They recorded and released their first and only single entitled, “Why You Wanna Play Me.” 

Shortly thereafter, the group disbanded and R. Kelly was signed on to the then up-and-coming label Jive Records, where he formed another group called Public Announcement.

After a single tour, Kelly left the group in 1993 to pursue a solo music career.

R. Kelly (2002); Photo: Scott Gries/ImageDirect

R. Kelly’s Rise to Stardom—and His Many Scandals

R. Kelly’s debut solo album released on November 9, 1993: The album was entitled 12 Play. Thanks to the success of songs like “Bump N’ Grind,” “Your Body’s Callin,” and “Sex Me,” the album continued to climb the Billboard charts and eventually went six times multi-platinum.

Aaliyah’s debut album released on May 24, 1994:  The album, which was mostly written and produced by R. Kelly, was titled Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number and featured a title track of the same name. The pair was introduced a few years earlier by Aaliyah’s legendary record-producer uncle, Barry Hankerson.

On August 31, 1994, R. Kelly married his young protégé, Aaliyah Dana Haughton: As the story goes, a then 15-year-old Aaliyah was allegedly coerced into marrying R. Kelly, who was 12 years older than her. Although this rumor was never confirmed by Aaliyah during her brief lifetime, new information about the union has since been released.

Aaliyah (2000); Photo: George De Sota/Liaison

A close friend of Kelly’s named Demetrius Smith wrote in his memoir that Kelly was on tour when he received a frantic phone call from the young pop star. Apparently, Aaliyah feared that she was pregnant (presumably with his child) and she said that she’d run away from home. Someone allegedly advised Kelly to wed her to legally protect himself.

Kelly took a brief break from the tour while he and Smith flew to Illinois. They were allegedly able to get a fake ID for Aaliyah stating that she was 18 years old. The marriage took place at the Sheraton Gateway Suites Hotel.

Vibe magazine printed a copy of the marriage license a few months later.

R. Kelly and Aaliyah’s Marriage Certificate; Photo: https://twitter.com/MrErnestOwens/status/1081017206635483138

Aaliyah’s family had the marriage annulled in October 1994: When news of the purported marriage ceremony began to circulate, Aaliyah’s family immediately moved to have the marriage annulled and they also broke all ties with Kelly.

After being inseparable and showing nothing but affection for one another for a number of years, Aaliyah and Kelly were never seen publicly together again, nor did they ever collaborate on future projects. A few years afterward, Aaliyah filed a petition to have the marriage expunged from her official record. Aaliyah never did have a child.

In 1995, R. Kelly continued to thrive with hit after hit: Despite the mounting allegations of sexual misconduct involving underage teenage girls, R. Kelly continued to release music to massive success. He co-wrote and produced the Michael Jackson hit “You Are Not Alone,” which essentially helped revive the King of Pop’s career after his own downfall following allegations that he sexually abused an underage boy.

Also see: Michael Jackson Child Sexual Abuse Case Timeline

That same year, Kelly also released his second studio album, the self-titled R. Kelly. “You Remind Me of Something,” “Down Low,” and “I Can’t Sleep Baby (If I)” were the three chart-topping singles from that album.

In 1996, R. Kelly wed one of his backup dancers, Andrea Lee: According to Lee, who also goes by the nickname Drea, the couple were married for almost 10 years, but were together for nearly 13 years in total. They have three children together, named Joann, Jay, and Robert Jr.

Andrea (Lee) Kelly (2007); Photo: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Lee filed for divorce in 2006, and it was finalized in 2009. Since then, she’s publicly spoken about the abuse she suffered throughout the entire relationship, claiming that Kelly was very controlling. She alleged he even physically assaulted her when she told him she wanted to get a divorce.

Lee appeared on the Lifetime docu-series Surviving R. Kelly where she boldly talked about contemplating suicide because the abuse was getting out of hand. “Standing on a balcony, contemplating suicide,” she said during her interview, “and that’s when I knew I’m done.”

Kelly allegedly controlled every aspect of her life, including who she was allowed to speak to, when she ate, and when she bathed. And apparently, Lee was ordered to knock on every door in the house before she was allowed to enter.

In July 1996, R. Kelly was arrested during a basketball game on battery charges: During a basketball game at a local health club in Lafayette, Louisiana, Kelly was caught in the middle of a physical altercation. One of the participants was badly injured and filed a lawsuit against Kelly and members of his entourage. Kelly failed to show up to the hearing and was eventually placed on unsupervised probation for 12 months.

That same year, the allegations of group sexual encounters with underage women began to surface.

Tiffany Hawkins sued R. Kelly in 1996: Tiffany Hawkins was the first young woman to come forward with her story and sue Kelly for sexual assault and misconduct with a minor. The lawsuit claimed that in 1990, when Hawkins was just 15 years old and the already successful Kelly was 24, he engaged in individual and group sexual encounters with her.

The pair met when Kelly paid a visit to his alma mater, Kenwood Academy, to listen to the choir sing under the direction of his former music teacher, Lena McLin.

Hawkins asked for $10.0 million in damages, but she eventually settled for $250,000.

According to court documents, the sexual relationship between Hawkins and Kelly lasted for approximately three years. He broke it off when she turned 18. She was so devastated by the breakup that she attempted suicide by slitting her wrists.

Kelly counter-sued her on the same day her lawsuit was filed and claimed that she was spreading false allegations about him—including the allegation that he was the father of her child.

A few weeks before the lawsuits, R. Kelly released one of the biggest hits of his career. “I Believe I Can Fly” was included on the Space Jam soundtrack at the behest of the film’s star and Kelly’s close friend, Michael Jordan.

On January 23, 1998, the Hawkins-Kelly lawsuit was finally settled.

More allegations were brought forth in 1999: A young woman came forward and said that she met Kelly when she was 17 years old while he was filming the music video for “If I Could Turn Back the Hands of Time,” which was a hit single from his fourth studio album, R.

Although they allegedly didn’t have sex until she turned 18 the following year, the woman claimed that Kelly never disclosed that he was married at the time and he knew how old she was. She was enraged when she discovered his marital status, and the pair started arguing.

Around this time, reports started to surface that Kelly’s backstage and dressing room areas were filled with underage teen girls.

The following year, his manager Barry Hankerson resigned with a letter to Kelly’s attorney saying the singer needs psychiatric help to address his attraction to underage girls.  

Two sex scandals in 2001: In the first scandal, a grainy black-and-white video of a male aggressor who looks a lot like R. Kelly performing explicit sexual acts with an underage girl surfaced. It was originally sent to the Chicago Sun-Times, which then submitted it to the police.

The video depicted the man urinating on the young girl and forcing her to perform other lewd acts. At first the police had a hard time identifying the girl and verifying her age, but then her relatives came forward. One of them was a singer who had formerly worked with Kelly named Stephanie “Sparkle” Edwards.

Edwards claimed that the girl in the video was her niece, who was 14 at the time the video was made, but 17 by the time it was released. An investigation ensued and charges were brought against Kelly. However, because both the girl and her parents refused to testify in court, the jury found him not guilty.

Another lawsuit was also filed against Kelly that same year. This one was from Tracy Sampson, a former intern at Epic Records. She alleged she was 17 when Kelly coerced her into engaging in inappropriate sexual activities with himself and several other girls.

2002-2008: An onslaught of sexual assault allegations and court hearings took place: Several more women came forward during this period, alleging that they were the victims of sexual assault and statutory rape at the hands of Kelly.

The first was Patrice Jones, who claimed she had sex with the singer when she was just 16. She also alleged that Kelly forced her to have an abortion after finding out she was pregnant. She sued him to the tune of $50,000.

Another woman named Montina Woods claimed that she was filmed while having sex with Kelly without her knowledge. The first case was settled out of court, while Woods signed a nondisclosure agreement.

The sums of both settlements are unknown.

Around the time that Kelly was set to perform his hit single “The World’s Greatest” at the 2002 Winter Olympics, another sex tape involving a minor was sent to the Chicago Sun-Times. He was subsequently charged with over 20 counts of making and distributing child pornography.

In 2003, 12 more counts of child pornography were added to the list after Kelly was indicted in Florida.

In 2004, all the Florida counts were dropped on the grounds that the search of Kelly’s property in Florida was undertaken without sufficient evidence.

In 2008, Kelly finally went on trial for the remaining counts and was found not guilty.

R. Kelly (2015); Photo: Mike Pont/Getty Images

In 2017, several more serious allegations were brought forward: First, a sheriff in Mississippi alleged that he and his wife got a divorce after she had an affair with the singer, and he sued Kelly for a hefty sum.

Second, Buzzfeed published a news story by investigative reporter Jim DeRogatis, who’s been covering the allegations against the singer since day one. DeRogatis’s story claims that the singer keeps several women on a compound in a sort of cult, controlling every aspect of their life, including what and when they eat, who they’re allowed to maintain contact with, when they’re allowed to bathe, etc. The article also alleges that the women are often forced to perform perverse sexual acts on one another.

While many of these accusations and cases have been settled in court, Surviving R. Kelly, which aired from January 3 to 5, 2019, has reignited scrutiny of the R&B superstar’s alleged crimes. Since the docu-series aired, Kelly has been dropped by his record label and several criminal investigations into have been launched.