“Punk and tak­ing drugs was a release for me and my way of deal­ing with my f**ked-up life and a re­ac­tion to those years. I mean, it’s not like I could for­get about it”

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Music -

child sex-abuse charges, pros­ti­tu­tion and mur­der.

“You don’t re­ally know what it’s like grow­ing up in a cult un­til you ac­tu­ally leave, be­cause you don’t how to live any other way,” says Owens. “It’s only when I think of my life now and think of it then that I re­alise what re­ally hap­pened. To me at the time, it was to­tally nor­mal. But when I be­came a teenager, I just started to see that I was grow­ing up in a very weird, dif­fer­ent way.”

The cult was where Owens first got in­volved with mu­sic. He and the other kids were en­cour­aged to learn and play songs by Elvis and The Bea­tles. Those who showed any tal­ent, like Owens, were sent out to busk to make money for the cult. On the streets, he’d play songs by The Everly Broth­ers and Fleet­wood Mac. While busk­ing, he’d meet “reg­u­lar” peo­ple, and soon be­gan to re­alise that life in the cult was not all it was cracked up to be.

His teenage cu­rios­ity then led him to other mu­sic. “Some of the older kids would tape stuff from the ra­dio, and we learned to play those songs on our crappy gui­tars. It was stuff like Guns N’ Roses, Michael Jack­son, Bon Jovi, that kind of stuff. It sounded just amaz­ing, for­eign and weird to us be­cause we weren’t used to it. There was sort of an un­der­ground scene with kids pass­ing around tapes. If you got caught, it was a big deal.”

When Owens was 16, he es­caped to Ar­mar­illo, Texas, where he em­braced punk, drugs and any­thing else the Chil­dren of God frowned upon. “Punk and tak­ing drugs was a release for me and my way of deal­ing with my fucked-up life and a re­ac­tion to those years. I mean, it’s not like I could for­get about it.”

It was in Amar­illo that the out-of-con­trol young­ster met Stan­ley Marsh 3, an ec­cen­tric multi-mil­lion­aire phi­lan­thropist, artist and busi­ness­man. Marsh took Owens un­der his wing and gave him a job and some­where to stay.

Af­ter a cou­ple of years work­ing for Marsh (“I used to mow the lawns on his ranch, and then I be­came his per­sonal as­sis­tant af­ter a

Chet “JR” White and Christo­pher Owens of Girls

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