Korn's Brian "Head" Welch Left Band, Found Jesus, and Almost Lost Everything
Brian "Head" Welch of Korn in his natural environment.
In 2005, Brian “Head” Welch shocked the metal world when he left nu-metal pioneers Korn at the height of the band’s career.
The surprise wasn’t so much that Welch was departing from the band he helped create but his reasoning. The guitarist quit the band because he had found Jesus and was dedicating his life to his faith. It stunned his bandmates and fans, but for Welch, quitting was the right thing to do at the time. He was battling an addiction to methamphetamine, Xanax, sleeping pills, and alcohol, and it was clear he needed a change. Welch chronicled these struggles in his first book, 2008’s Save Me from Myself: How I Found God, Quit Korn, Kicked Drugs, and Lived to Tell My Story.
He also quickly learned that life without Korn would be different, and his days of packing arenas, being famous, and making bank were long gone. Not only would he have to deal with the struggles of starting a fresh solo career, he would have to navigate fatherhood as a single parent to a young daughter. Welch has again documented his pitfalls and re-joining the band that put him on the map in his new book, With My Eyes Wide Open: Miracles and Mistakes on My Way Back to Korn.
The book isn’t your typical rock-star autobiography, with stories of excess, partying, and drugs. It’s a passageway into the dark world of deception, depression, and faith. The prologue starts at Christmas 2012 at his parents’ house in Bakersfield, California. Welch confronts his daughter, Jennea, after spotting self-harm slashes on her arms. Not only did Welch feel like a failure as a parent after seeing what his daughter had done to herself, it also came at the time he had just rejoined Korn. He wondered if her cry for help was a result of his decision to reunite with the band.
One of the major factors in Welch leaving the band in the first place was to spend more time with his daughter, and after he decided to relocate to Phoenix and start fresh, the two got along wonderfully — initially. Then, the depression that has played such a role in his life slowly became a part of his daughter’s life.
Life for Jennea had been much different than most of the kids she went to school with. Her mother and Welch divorced when she was a baby, and Welch’s daughter never had a relationship with her mother. When Welch would pick his daughter up from grade school, other parents were wary of his appearance — the dreadlocked, tattoo-covered musician.
Welch was trying to balance being a parent and starting a solo career when he got a phone call from an old weed-dealer friend from the Korn days. He’d heard Welch’s story, and, like Welch, was also a Christian. The dealer also suggested that Welch should reach out to another friend of his that owned a couple of recording studios in Phoenix and Burbank, California. This friend of the weed dealer turned out to be the man that would take Welch for hundreds of thousands of dollars through shady business deals. In the book, the conman is referred to as Edgar, which is not his real name, as most of the names in the book have been changed to protect their identities and for fear of lawsuits.
Edgar planned exotic “business trips” around the world in hopes of finishing deals that never seemed to pan out. When a deal fell through, Edgar would explain to Welch that God was closing one door so another could open. Welch eventually realized that he was the one paying for these expensive trips out of the budget for recording his solo record at the studio. He took Edgar’s word on finances, even as he became wary of what was going on.
“At the time, he had two studios, one in Burbank, and it looked like he had shit going on,” Head says. “It started to dwindle down, and each year it dwindled down until it crashed. There were plenty of signs for me to see, and there’s no excuse. But my eyes were just shut. I’d partied for so long in the past that my mind wasn’t back to normal yet.”
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter Our daily newsletter delivers quick clicks to keep you in the know
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Phoenix, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.