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R. Kelly goes from ‘Pied Piper’ of R&B to ‘dead-beat’ dad

Joycelyn Savage, left, and Azriel Clary walk into the Leighton Criminal Courthouse for R&B star R. Kelly's first court appearance Feb. 23. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

While R. Kelly went off the rails during the recent interview with Gayle King on “CBS This Morning,” apparently he still has loyal fans.

Some of those fans likely interpreted Kelly’s emotional outbursts as proof that the women who are accusing him of sexual abuse are doing it for the money.

The problem with that scenario is that Kelly doesn’t appear to have much money despite having earned millions for his enormous musical talent.


After decades of living the life of a high roller, Kelly found himself behind bars again last week, depending on the kindness of strangers.

Chicago Sun-Times columnist Michael Sneed reported Friday that more than 200 people requested to visit Kelly during his initial three-day jail stay on charges he sexually abused four women, including three minors.

And the second time around, dozens of people put money on the books totaling more than $1,400 so he could buy foods from the jail’s commissary.

In the explosive interview with King, Kelly labeled accusations that he has had sex with underage girls as “lies.”

In 2008, he was acquitted on 14 counts of child pornography stemming from a video that purportedly showed him having sex with an underage girl.

Since that time, Kelly has sold millions of recordings, and has headlined hundreds of concerts.

So how in the world did he end up owing $161,663 to his ex-wife for unpaid child support for the couple’s three children?

The singer spent three more nights in jail, until finally coming up with the hefty sum for his release Saturday morning.

The 52-year-old Kelly has been residing at Trump Tower with two young women in their 20s whose parents’ claim have been brainwashed by Kelly.

In a separate interview, Azriel Clary, 21, and Joycelyn Savage, 22, told King they were “with” Kelly.

“That’s our relationship. We both have our individual relationships with him. We all are family. We have our moments when we watch movies all together and go to amusement parks,” Clay said.

When King pushed back, asking directly if they were talking about a three-way sexual relationship, Clary snapped.

“There are people all over the world who have multiple girlfriends. It is no different,” she said.

And she’s right.

“Sister Wives,” a reality TV series about a polygamist, Kody Brown, and his four wives and 18 children, premiered in 2010.

But Kelly, who claims to be nearly broke, had to be bailed out of jail by a fan when he couldn’t post the $100,000 bond on the sex abuse charges.

But when he was earning money, he reportedly didn’t take care of his own family.

While I think it is counter-productive to throw a dead-beat dad in jail, mainly because that person can’t make any money behind bars, Kelly is a special case.

Allegedly, Kelly neglected his children’s financial needs as a pattern of abuse, while playing “Sugar Daddy” to a harem of girlfriends.

On the CBS interview, Clary and Savage were stylishly put together and swinging luxurious weaves that look like they cost a bundle.

“I’ve been well taken care of,” Clary told King.

Unfortunately, Kelly’s own children — who are not much younger than his live-in girlfriends — can’t say the same.

Kelly’s eldest daughter, Joann Lee Kelly, is 20. His transgender son, Jay, is 18 and Robert Jr. is 16.

Young people that age have all kinds of costly needs.

Kelly’s ex-wife, Andrea Kelly, claims he abused her during their 13-year marriage and “tried to control her by holding money over their heads.”

“He did make child support payments occasionally, but she never knew how much money was coming and when he would send it and therefore, she never knew when she had money to feed her children,” TMZ reported.

When she went public with allegations of abuse last year, the money stopped coming all together, Andrea Kelly told TMZ.

Kelly blames his ex-wife for his money problems, saying she “dragged his name through the mud to the point he couldn’t work.”

“How can I pay child support? How? Use your common sense,” he shouted during his interview with King.

But that’s not the case.

The entertainer is ignoring the role #MuteRKelly has played in diminishing his earning potential.

In 2017, Oronike Odeleye, started a petition to get Kelly’s music off of the Atlanta airwaves after sexual abuse charges resurfaced. She joined forces with Kenyette Barnes, a social justice activist, and coined the hashtag #MuteRKelly. Although the campaign got off to a slow start, it was successful in getting Kelly’s concerts canceled in Atlanta, and in several other cities, including Chicago at the UIC Pavilion.

The campaign gained steam in January with the release of the “Surviving R. Kelly” documentary on Lifetime.

After standing by Kelly for years, Sony/RCA dropped him from its label.

“We will continue to disrupt, continue to demonstrate, continue to call him out, continue to raise awareness until hopefully one day soon, we can step in the name of justice at his trial,” Odeleye said, paraphrasing lyrics to “Step in the Name of Love” — one of Kelly’s most popular songs.

Meanwhile, other young women were falling under the spell of the famous celebrity.

In the King interview, both Clary and Savage denied having sex with Kelly when they were underage.

Although the women were defiant in their defense of their intimate relationship with a man old enough to be their father, they came across as two more of Kelly’s victims.

They also accused their parents of basically throwing them at Kelly.

“When I first met Robert, my parents told me to lie about my age. When I was 17, they were trying to get me to take photos with him and sexual videos with him [saying it was] because if they ever have to blackmail him like they are doing now,” Clary said.

“Both of our parents are trying to get money or scam [Kelly],” Savage said.

At one point, Clary broke down and cried, covering her face with her sculptured nails.

When asked why she was crying, the young woman told King, “I’m crying because you don’t know the truth. You believe some f***** facade and you can’t see that because you are ignorant or stupid,” she said.

But what these young women have yet to learn is that love always puts family first.