Rock and Redemption

As I waited for the bookstore clerk to hand me a copy of the latest autobiography I was assigned to read, I was filled with trepidation and albeit a little fear. As I glanced at the cover, I couldn’t help but be a bit offended. Hanging on a cross of guitars, bare chested and enshrouded with tattoos was a depiction of Reggie “Fieldy” Arvizu, the acclaimed bassist for the mega popular and successful nu metal band Korn. Flipping through Fieldy’s book, Got the Life: My Journey of Addiction, Faith, Recovery and Korn, I readied myself for the rollercoaster ride of another clichéd “bad-boy of rock”. The scenario has been played out often but I realized there was something very interesting going on with this particular band. A few years prior to Fieldy, the lead guitarist of Korn, Brian “Head” Welch, became a Christian and quit the band.

Fieldy, who was notorious for his destructive and dysfunctional behavior, was now claiming his own conversion but chose a different path and decided to remain with Korn. I checked my judgment at the door and dove into his book, eager to see God’s revelation and how this rocker found redemption and restoration through his faith in Jesus Christ.

On the back cover of the book is a poignant quote about Fieldy’s view on life: “We all have two dogs that live inside each of us that are at war with our soul. One is good and the other is evil.  Which one will win the war? Whichever one you feed.  Which one do you feed?” For most of his life, there was no question which dog Fieldy nurtured. From a young age, his life was filled with dysfunction. Although he idolized and loved his father, who was also a musician, his dad would become a different person after a night of drinking, partying and drugs.  Violent outbursts between his parents became the pattern and, for Fieldy, this type of life was his own twisted view of normaley.  His father’s addictions and womanizing led to a divorce that crushed Fieldy to the core and would serve to create the thick skin that would protect him from ever becoming emotionally vulnerable again – especially to women.  Angry, rebellious and driven, Fieldy took up the bass guitar and became relentless in his pursuit of becoming a rock star. Never denying himself his whims, he began stealing to supply his drugs of choice: alcohol, speed and food. After high school he moved to L.A. with band mates Brian “Head” Welch, David Sylveria and James “Munky” Shaffer to be at the center of the music scene. The early years were lean and, at one point, Fieldy became a drug dealer to make ends meet. When his supplier was murdered, he saw that as his own fate and quit the business.  The years of struggling and chasing the dream, however, took their toll on Fieldy and heightened his existing anxiety disorder. Fieldy began self medicating with depressants such as Xanax to calm his nerves, all the while continuing to carry on his drinking and partying ways waiting for success to come knocking on his door.

Everything fell into place when Jonathan Davis joined the band as their new lead singer in 1993. Creating a new musical genre combining alternative and metal they immediately garnered a following and the attention of the industry. Korn exploded onto the music scene and rose to the top of charts becoming an international multi-platinum nu metal phenomenon.  Fieldy finally “got the life”. With his new notoriety and fame he developed the following list of rules in which to “govern” it.

Old Fieldy’s Rules: • No morals necessary. • Responsibility for any act not required. • Act was wrong or immoral. • Nothing was out of bounds. • Faith in a higher being nonexistent. • The world revolved around me. • The more women, drugs and booze, the better.

His depiction of his life in those days is told with a gritty and raw honesty. Puffed up with pride and anger he became a 24/7 addict.  Although he was married twice, he held women with no regard or respect. After concerts his bus would be freshly stocked with women only for him to use them quickly for sex and literally throw them off the bus after like used garbage. He became a mean and violent tempered jerk and all his relationships suffered because of it, especially the ones with his band mates. He wrangled with sleepless nights, intoxicating himself as a measure to quiet the inner demons that taunted him and pointed to his guilty life. One horrific evening, he came close to almost killing his girlfriend Dena and could not even remember the details of it. He had little relationship with his two young daughters. He was so wasted he would scrounge around hotel hallways eating the leftovers out of other people’s room service trays. His body, so devastated by years of abuse, he could no longer control his bodily functions and would wet himself several times a day. Fieldy may have been the master of the rock world but he was no longer the master of his life. The wide road he chose of the fast-paced lifestyle promised him endless fun and insulation from pain but that road, as the Bible is quick to point out, is the one that leads to death – and Fieldy knew it. It took a tragic turn of events before he would wake up and realized he was feeding the wrong dog.

When his father became ill with cancer, Fieldy was convinced that all of his money and power could save his “superhero”. Becoming a Christian 18 years prior had made a remarkable difference in his dad’s life.  There were times he would attempt to talk to Fieldy about his faith but could see that it was pushing him away. Instead his dad chose not to judge him but to continue to love him unconditionally.  He would tell him, “Son, there’s only one gift in this world that never fails…and that’s love.” He never forgot those words. Fieldy was with his dad every day at the end. When his dad took his last breath, Fieldy was devastated. Through the tears, his step-mom Mindi turned to him and said, “There’s one thing your dad wanted more than anything else in this world, Reggie.  And that was for you to accept Jesus Christ into your heart.”  Mindi prayed with him but he didn’t understand what the words meant.  Those words, however, touched his heart and began to change his life in ways he could never have imagined.  “In his death,” says Fieldy,” he gave me the most amazing gift a father could leave to his son.  He opened my eyes.”

From that time on Fieldy no longer had a desire to drink and do drugs. He threw all his pot down the toilet. He prayed to God to help him clean up his life and started to read the Bible every day. Miraculously, after twenty years of filling his mind and body with toxins day and night, he did not have withdrawal symptoms. After sobering up he began dealing with all the guilt and fall-out from his bad behavior.  He apologized and begged forgiveness from everyone. In the book he even wrote letters of apology to his band mates.  Most important was seeking the forgiveness of the one woman he had grown to love, his girlfriend Dena. Despite their turbulent past, their relationship began anew and they wed a year later. God blessed their union that night with a baby boy they named Israel. Unlike “Head”, Fieldy decided to continue on with Korn. He feels called to stay with the band and impact others through the example of his own changed life. Like his father, he chooses to love and accept people where they are at. “When you’re living a real life full of unconditional love and peace, people will want what you have. You don’t have to go to them and say, ‘Do you know what you need?’ It doesn’t work that way…no one wants to be told what to do.” Clearly God is lifting up men such as Fieldy and Head to minister to a new audience that might not otherwise seek Him; men who are familiar with their world and grapple with the same vices. With a testimony as strong as his, he will no doubt have an impact on the music industry and legions of fans. One of those fans summed up his book best when stating:  “It is an awesome chronicle of Fieldy’s journey  from the emptiness of ‘having everything he could ever want’ to having the ‘One’ who gives everything…what a gift this man and his story is to the metal world.”

Lisette Frevola can be reached at [email protected].

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