COMPOSER OVERCAME DRUG-DEALING PAST
A Mothers Camel Knees Made The Difference
should each judge your own conduct. If it is good, then you can
be proud of what you yourself have done, without having to compare
it with what someone else has done.
a rich four-octave range, hes been called a singers
singer, and his luminous songwriting and production abilities
have led to film scores and source music for feature films like
Perfect Storm and Inspector Gadget, as well
as numerous television series such as Melrose Place,
90210, The X-Files, and Baywatch.
efforts on behalf of victims of genocide in Sudan through his Make
Me Your Voice CD project earned a trip to the White House.
But few know the full story of a life that nearly ended prematurely
in a haze of youthful rebellion, misdirection, and family mayhem-until
a new door opened in his life.
smoked my first joint at six-years-old and did my first line of
cocaine at nine, says Ken Tamplin, 40, the recipient of several
Dove Awards and founder of Tamplin Music. I was raised in
a predominately Christian home and my father was well-to-do, but
there was little parental supervision and we were allowed to run
amuck, he says.
he salutes his mother as a prayer warrior during this
period, his father was largely absent, pursuing success in the business
world. Even though he remembers making a decision for Christ at
age six, he spent the remainder of his youth running from God. Tamplin
found access to drugs through his older brother, a well-known drug
dealer in Orange County, California, who landed in jail several
times due to his activities. I would take over his business
when he was in jail, Tamplin says. His drug dealing involvement
escalated between the ages of nine and 12 during his older brothers
disappearances from the home.
the age of 12 I made a rocket out of an empty CO2 cartridge,
Tamplin says. I assumed that if you took match heads and match
powder and packed it in nice and tight it would shoot farther,
he says. Tamplin used a hammer and Allen wrench to pound the explosive
powder tightly into the cartridge. I didnt realize I
was making a very deadly pipe bomb.
remembers his father watching his dangerous endeavor unfold the
night before his scheduled launch, but he made no effort
to intervene. The next day I lit it and it exploded.
The concussive blast near his body immediately ripped through his
stomach, destroying his spleen and part of his colon. I was
rushed to the hospital and expected to die, he recalls. Peritonitis
and a staph infection set in to a degree they pretty much guaranteed
I would die.
was completely distraught and overwhelmed and she got prayer chains
all across the country to pray for me, Tamplin says. When his mother
went home from the hospital, not knowing if her son would die, she
opened the pages of the Bible, and her eyes immediately fell on
a verse saying: Thy son liveth. The letters were jumping off
the page and it practically knocked her over, Tamplin says.
She grabbed her Bible and raced down to the hospital and showed
the doctors, he says. Despite her newfound hope, the doctors
informed her the staph infection had spread and they would have
to leave the wound completely open. I was in excruciating
pain, Tamplin adds.
the waiting game began as Tamplin tried to bargain with God. I
said, If you just save me I swear Ill never take another
drug again as long as I live. Several days went by and they wondered
why I hadnt died yet, Tamplin says. Then they
took another blood sample and found the staph infection had gotten
so low it seemed like I would recover, he says. I was
supposed to be in the hospital three months and I got out in six
doctors had prepared him for possible lifetime use of a colostomy
bag, something unexpected occurred. The colon fused together
miraculously, he says. After leaving the hospital, Tamplin
was reunited with his old circle of friends, who immediately began
to tempt him again with drugs. I delved back into drugs considerably
worse than before, he says, forgetting his bargain with God.
I got into angel dust and smoking heroin. I overdosed on angel
dust three times.
parents got so disgusted with me, he recalls. They decided to send
Tamplin to a drug rehab camp in the local mountains operated by
Melodyland Christian Center. I remember looking for the bad
kids on the first day and I found them, Tamplin says. Ever
the rebel, he called a drug buddy on the phone to bring drugs and
beer up to his three new friends and they proceeded to indulge themselves.
didnt realize two of his new friends were also preachers
kids. We got high and they went back and they narced on me,
he says. The operators of the camp decided to make an example of
Tamplin by publicly excoriating him in front of the other young
people and sending him home. Humiliated and enraged, he vowed never
to set foot at any activity operated by Melodyland Christian Center.
Back home, things were going from bad to worse, as Tamplins
father divorced his mother and married his secretary. We started
spiraling out of control financially, Tamplin says. The family
went from living in a very affluent area near a country club to
a rundown condominium, and then finally to a succession of hotels
started pawning off furniture, the piano, and the television, he
says. She wasnt working and she hadnt worked in the
22 years of their marriage, so you can imagine. At the same time,
Tamplins sister ran away from home and his older brother was
in jail. It was just me, my mom, and my little brother.
Tamplin got into a jam with a cocaine dealer because he built up
a $5,000 debt. I had fronted cocaine out to a bunch of other
people who hadnt paid me, Tamplin says. The drug dealer
pressured Tamplin for repayment in an unforgettable way.
chased me down an alley on a motorcycle to where I lived and bashed
the front door down and actually rode inside the house, Tamplin
says. I bolted out the back door and over a fence so he couldnt
a week later, Tamplins mother came to him with a heartfelt
request. Will you go to church with me? she asked. I
cant go alone-I need the support, she said.
are you going? Tamplin asked.
Christian Center, she said.
he replied. I aint going to Melodyland.
the only place I feel comfortable, she said. Please, I beg you.
Tamplin gave in. Fine, well sit in the back on the farthest
side. Melodyland Christian Center, headed by noted charismatic pastor
Ralph Wilkerson, was located across the street from Disneyland.
As Tamplin and his mother settled into their seats in the round
auditorium, staring down at the stage in the center, they were both
surprised when Wilkerson started his message. There is a young
man out there who is 14, but he looks 25-years-old, Wilkerson
looked at mom and I was fuming mad, Tamplin admits, thinking
she had called Wilkerson in advance. Meanwhile, Tamplins mother
started bawling her head off. God wants you to make a decision
today, Wilkerson said. Today is the day, he said.
I fear if you dont make a decision today, you wont
live much longer. Tamplin started feeling butterflies in his
stomach, as he considered whether Wilkerson spoke the truth. You
owe someone money, Wilkerson continued. I want to say
its $5,000. I thought, Oh my God! Mom didnt know
about this one. As the seconds ticked by and no one got up
to come forward the choir started to sing.
Tamplin felt a powerful force lift him up. It was literally
as if someone shoved me out of my seat and pushed me down the aisle
like a dog, he remembers. After a few moments Wilkerson spotted
Tamplin coming toward the stage. Thats him! Wilkerson shouted.
Thats the young man I saw. When Tamplin drew near,
Wilkerson grabbed him and hauled him up next to the podium, then
he barked out, Congregation-pray!
the next few moments, Tamplin felt something he never felt before
or any time since. Id never been slain in the spirit
and I didnt even know what it was, he says. But
I fell backwards as if someone took weighted warm air like a bucket
and swooshed it over my body. I couldnt move-I was stunned.
I felt the presence of God. I felt healing and power. It was like
being baptized but youre not wet when you get up.
this life-changing experience for Tamplin, he and his mother returned
to a motel room where they faced some harsh realities. We
were out of money and totally destitute, he says. They were
staying in a roach-infested motel that smelled like bug spray
straddling the border of two cities-Whittier and La Habra. Mom
had $5 to her name, a beat-up AMC Gremlin with no gas in it, and
we had one jar of peanut butter left.
his mother contemplated the unthinkable. The only thing she
could recommend she knew to do was for us to take a big bottle of
Valium and commit suicide together, Tamplin says, his voice
breaking with emotion. She prayed-she didnt know where else
to go. There was a little black and white TV with a coat hanger
antenna in the room and there was a TV program called Operation
Blessing that was a Pat Robertson show. Ben Kinchlow was on and
he said, Theres a family in Whittier, California and
youre thinking of committing suicide. Dont do it. Call
the number on the screen and well get help to you. We
called the number on the screen and received $25 from the Salvation
Army, and a pastor came by and gave us a food voucher for $25, Tamplin
recalls. I got a job after school selling carpet door-to-door
and mom worked a little here and there.
fortunes slowly began to turn around. We got a little apartment,
Tamplin says. We just grew from that and God started opening doors
in my life, he says. I came to realize life is what
you make it in Christ.
of the unforeseen benefits of their nomadic lifestyle is Tamplin
lost touch with some of his drug-dealing friends. Because
we moved so much I lost contact with people, he says. The
drug dealer had no way of finding me. If you consecrate and relinquish
everything to Him and get out of the way it will shock you what
God can do with your life, he adds. One day I could
be washing dishes and the next I could be meeting the President
of the United States for helping with the Sudan issue, or playing
on stage with well-known people.
musical gifts began to be recognized at a young age, as he joined
a succession of rock groups such as Joshua, Shout, and Magdallan.
With his rich vocal range, he was also asked to sing with groups
such as Foreigner, Jeff Lynn, Geazer Butler, and Peter Frampton.
Many also began to recognize his production abilities, which led
to his work on numerous feature films and TV programs. His recent
Make Me Your Voice CD project to raise money for the
victims of genocide in Sudan and to promote a peaceful end to the
Sudan conflict featured noted Christian music artists such as Andrae
Crouch and Charlie Peacock. His efforts also gained him an invitation
to meet President Bush when Bush signed the Sudan Peace Act into
law in 2002.
was very warm, sincere, and attentive, Tamplin says, of his
meeting with President Bush. I felt like I was the only person in
the room with him. He signed a card for my son and daughter, and
I told him we were praying for him. You know, I really appreciate
the prayers,Bush told Tamplin. People ask me, Arent
you exhausted and fatigued? And I say, No-I have the whole
nation praying for me. I can really feel the prayers of the people,
Bush told him.
also produced a documentary called Footsteps of Peace
with Calvary Chapel Pastor Gary Kusonoki, which they hoped would
lead to greater understanding between Christians and Muslims and
advance peace efforts in Sudan. So far, the documentary has aired
five times throughout the Muslim world. A second documentary will
be released as soon as the current peace accord is solidified. Despite
Tamplins heavy media involvement, he doesnt receive
cable TV in his home, but does own one television set with an antenna
allowing reception of a few programs, mostly due to concerns about
his children. We watch Fear Factor as a family-thats
our one program we watch together, Tamplin says.
know its a gateway for me and a portal for them, Tamplin adds.
I pray that I stay as conservative as necessary to shield them for
as long as necessary, he says, expressing his concern for his eight
and ten-year-old. Most of the content on television he views as
garbage, and a time waster. On Wednesday nights, he and his
family play games together at home. Im not trying to sound
like Ozzie and Harriet, but we go out of our way to be good parents,
a brief stint leading worship at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, which
he found disappointing, he is currently involved with a church plant
called The Gate, which meets at Laguna Hills High School,
the same place Saddleback Church got started. Tamplins younger
brother Lance is also involved in the church plant and shares in
just produced a new worship CD he describes as unique. Its
like no other worship CD Ive heard, he says. We
were able to make a soundtrack where we didnt care about the
flavor of the month and all the wangle jangle stuff coming out of
Nashville that all sounds exactly the same. Its a very creative
throw-back 70s record done for the 21st Century with crazy great
fidelity and production. I love doing things with excellence for
God, Tamplin adds.
and above the successes in his career, Tamplins greatest satisfaction
comes from the changes within his family. My whole family
is back to Christ, Tamplin reports, including his older brother
and sister. Its miraculous. I attribute that to the
prayers of a mother, he says. My mom has camels
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