“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”
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