Julia Holcomb was just 16 when she came face to face with her rock ’n’ roll idol, Steven Tyler.
“It was like the whole world came to a stop,” she said.
From that fateful moment, her life would take jagged, heart wrenching turns. But through her near-death struggles, she eventually found peace beyond the reality of her circumstances.
Tuesday afternoon, Julia Holcomb, former girlfriend of Steven Tyler of Aerosmith, spoke to the students of Luther High School in conjunction with the school’s annual Life Week. She opened up about her life, relationship with Tyler and the devastation she personally experienced through having an abortion.
Holcomb travels around the country presenting her anti-abortion message.
Holcomb knew abandonment from a very young age. Her father left when she was young and her parents divorced.
Her mother was a school teacher and made sure to take her family to church. That stopped after another failed marriage and she then moved in with another man.
“The message to me was that marriage was optional,” Holcomb said.
With her family life in tumult, Holcomb looked for escape. She was thrilled to take advantage of a backstage pass to an Aerosmith concert in Portland, Ore., with an opportunity to meet the band members, including Tyler. “I idolized him,” she said. “I was mesmerized with the rock ’n’ roll culture.”
Holcomb was beyond elation. She spent the night with Tyler.
Her mother was indifferent after hearing where her daughter had been all night. She even drove Holcomb to the airport so she could fly to see Tyler in Seattle.
A few months later Holcomb moved to Boston to live with Tyler. She was 16 and he was 26. He became her legal guardian because he couldn’t legally travel across state lines with a minor.
Holcomb thought she was the luckiest girl in the world. She rode in limos and stayed at fine hotels. She was dating a world famous rock star. But somehow Holcomb knew it wouldn’t last.
The couple decided to try to have a child in 1975. They pitched Holcomb’s birth control pills off a hotel balcony. Less than a year later, she was pregnant. When she told Tyler the news, “I remember he almost jumped.”
He was very kind to her and reassuring. A few months later he said he wanted to get married. Tyler’s parents did not take the news well. His mother was reluctant, and his father could not give his approval.
“When we left the house that night, I could see that Steven had had a change of heart,” Holcomb said.
When Holcomb was around five months pregnant, Tyler went on tour. She stayed in their apartment. One day, she awoke to a fire. Smoke and flames engulfed the apartment. She was unable to open the door and flames blocked the second exit.
Escape impossible, Holcomb did the only thing she could think of. She took refuge inside the white, marble fireplace in their bedroom.
“I was so frightened, and I feared what God would say to me,” she said. “My fear was that I would pass from this fire into an eternal one.”
As she felt herself struggling for consciousness, she saw her grandmother’s picture of Jesus hanging nearby and prayed a verse from the Psalms, “Into thy hands I commit my spirit. Thou hast redeemed me.” She said, “Suddenly at that moment, he was real to me again, like he was when I was a little girl.”
Her fear evaporated like water in sunlight. Firefighters came and rescued her. She awoke in a hospital bed. The doctors were astonished she was cognitive and able to communicate, for they thought she would be brain damaged from smoke inhalation. Holcomb said God saved her life.
Tyler arrived at the hospital. He told her she could choose between the baby and the street, Holcomb claims. “Desperation gave in,” she said, “and our relationship was never the same after that moment.”
Tyler, who wrote about the abortion in an autobiography, said that it affected him as well.
“I was pretty devastated,” Tyler wrote. “In my mind, I’m going, Jesus, what have I done?’”
Holcomb said that many people buy into the lie that things can get better after an abortion. In her estimation, it is precisely the opposite. “Everything was worse,” she said.
The romance was over. The couple broke apart.
About a year later, Holcomb attended a church camp on the beach with her mother and her mother’s new husband. It was there that she accepted Jesus and said she became a new person.
Today, Holcomb is a practicing Catholic and has been married for 31 years, and she is the mother of seven children. “My role as a mother is one of the titles I am most proud of,” she said.
Through being truthful with her family and experiencing their love and forgiveness, Holcomb found courage to tell others about her story. She said, “Abortion is a choice that hurts women and leaves a trail of victims.”
Holcomb does not keep in touch with Tyler but started to tell her story after his book was published.
“Sometimes I’ll hear his music and it will bring back sad memories. And I will turn to prayer,” she said.
Connie Bader, Pro-Life Knights adviser at Luther, said she was moved by Holcomb’s presentation.
“The last discriminated segment of our population and our society is the pre-born, and yet the law allows them to be a product of choice,” Bader said.