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Between the Liner Notes

Why Brian Welch Walked Away

By Tim Branson and Shannon Woodland
The 700 Club On a peaceful Arizona afternoon, Brian Welch and his daughter Jeanea share a mutual love for music. But just a couple of years ago, Brian would have given anything for just a few minutes of peace.

“I want to be here for Jeanea,” Brian says. “She lost her mom to drugs. I need your help. ‘Help me, help me God.’ I said it from my heart.”

Brian, known around the world to his friends and fans as “Head,” made it big – multi–platinum big – as co-founder and lead guitarist of the band Korn.

“The second record came out, number three on the billboard chart. What’s up with that! We’re some heavy band,” Brian says. “We go to the third album…the album starts going 100,000 copies a week, we start selling. We kept climbing; we kept selling records, more videos, more fame, huge shows.”

The band’s unique sound, called nu-metal, is a mixture of heavy metal and alternative rock, and it catapulted these five friends from Bakersfield, California, into super stardom. And while most of the world saw Brian the rock star, the man who had it all, Brian tells a different story of how he was dying inside and attempted to kill the pain with drugs and alcohol.

“I’d go back on the road, starting drinking. ‘OK, guys let’s party.’ Sweeping the pain under the rug,” Brian says.

While it didn’t seem to affect his music, it had a devastating effect on his marriage.

“I’d go home and me and my ex-wife would do drugs and fight,” he says.

Brian tried several times to quit the drugs, but he felt powerless to fight them. Then, the arrival of his daughter Jeanea changed everything. Brian and his wife, Rebekah, went on the straight and narrow – at least for awhile.

“And that was like the best thing, I said, ‘Life is going to be good. Life is going to be good. I’ve got my band. I’ve got my wife. I’ve got my baby.’ We’re still climbing up and then I go back on tour. I got clean when she was born, and I go back on tour. Open a beer for the first show, instantly hooked again. Rebekah starts doing ‘speed’ at home with the baby and I’m still climbing success. And home is just terrible. Rebekah is missing. I’m missing my baby so bad. When I come home, I’m so drunk or hung over. Then, I spend a couple of days with my kid. I bump into someone who does speed. I do speed at home with my kid and it just gets worse at home as the success grows,” Brian says.

Then, his wife left him and Jeanea, and they eventually divorced.

“I panicked. My rock star dream, my money, nothing, none of my power, none of my gangster friends could stop that trauma from happening,” he says.

Brian won custody of Jeanea. And here began that tug of war in his heart. He wanted to care for his daughter, but hated exposing her to the wild party life of Korn.

“How can you leave a huge band that’s like one of the biggest bands that’s come around, rock bands, that changed music, how can you leave that?,” Brian asks. “But how can I not be there for my daughter?”

As Brian agonized over this decision, he dove deeper and deeper into drugs and alcohol. One day, he heard his daughter singing a Korn song.

“I heard Jeanea singing a Korn song called “Adidas.”  It means all day long I dream about sex. It’s a party song. And I felt like a loser. I’m no good for this kid,” Brian says.

During that time, Brian went into real estate with two partners who happened to be Christians. They never troubled Brian with their faith. But, at one point they reached out to him through an e-mail. Brian had mentioned to his partners how his life was falling apart. Their reply -- “Come to me, all you who are weary and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)

Brian began to question, “‘Could Jesus be real?’ I was thinking in my mind, was this guy not just a goody, goody? Could there really be a God, and is He calling me? I looked up that scripture and I wanted it to be true.”

Eventually, Brian went to church with them.

“So we went to the service. And the music came on and all these people went up to the front and started praying. And I was like, that is just weird. But I was drawn, I felt something going on,” Brian says.  “He said, ‘Does anybody want to accept Christ?’ And I did it for myself. I said the prayer and went home rolled up a hundred dollar bill, laid out a big line of ‘speed’, snorted it. And I said…I remember perfectly. I was clear…I said, ‘Lord, If you’re real like that guy says, please take these drugs from me. I can’t quit, I don’t want to do them, but I can’t stop. I want to be here for Jeanea. She lost her mom to drugs. I need your help, Just help me. Help, help me God.’ I said it from my heart.”

Brian snorted “speed” and read the Bible for a week, searching for the answers. Then one day… 

“I felt this peaceful presence and I started shaking a little bit and I got goose bumps everywhere. And the first thing I felt was ‘I love you.’ And I was like, ‘Father?’ I was frozen. ‘Father?’ This was God and then it went away. But, it was so real. It took over the high. And when it went away the drugs said, ‘That’s just drugs. That’s not real.’ So I did drugs all night long. And the next day I woke up and I had the feeling to go to my Bible. I opened it up and pointed, the soul who sins is the soul who dies. And to me, right then, it was like God told me I revealed myself to you last night. It’s time for you to stop the drugs. It’s time for you to be done. And I was consumed with fear and I went and grabbed all my drugs and threw them in the toilet and I said, ‘I’m done God. I’m yours now. I’m yours.’ That’s the last time I did drugs.

According to Brian, the fact that he could become clean after being in drugs for so many years was a miracle.

At the same time, in 2005, Brian split from Korn and sent the heavy metal world into a spin. On the other hand, Brian was baptized in the Jordan River and started his new journey.

“To tell you the truth, God was real,” Brian says. “He revealed himself to me, kept revealing Himself to me, and I felt his presence at my house. He’s speaking to my kid and all this crazy stuff is happening, and that’s all that mattered to me. I was OK. This band stuff, the stardom, I mean everything, it doesn’t matter anymore. It’s God. He’s so real. I don’t care what I do the rest of my life.”

Brian has taken his responsibility as a father head on. Instead of lewd lyrics, Jeanea hears her dad talk about the love of God.

Brian’s music career also has taken on a new direction. His music now reflects his journey from self–destruction into the loving arms of God.

“He put me on Earth to have fellowship and intimacy with Him,” Brian says. “And I’m going to spend as much time I can possibly spend getting to know him everyday. I don’t want to waste any time. I’ve wasted enough time. That’s what I’m put on Earth to do. Be intimate with God. Get to know Him as much as I can. Let Him fill me with His spirit so He can do the work by bringing people into the Kingdom.”

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