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Bobby Hayden, Jr.
Interview By Bobby Schuller
Bobby Hayden, Jr. (BH) began singing at a young age, appearing by the age of seven on television shows such as Johnny Carson's "The Tonight Show" and "Ted Mack's Amateur Hour." As a teenager, Bobby perfected his guitar and piano playing, and wrote heart-bending songs. In later years, Bobby toured with the likes of Paul Revere and the Raiders and Ozzy Osbourne. His energy for life included sex, drugs and rock & roll, and soon a heroin addiction would consume his life. Today, Bobby has been sober for three years, and has founded Cardboard Box Ministry to help others who are in the same place he was not that long ago. Bobby Schuller (BS) interviews Bobby.
BS: It is my pleasure to welcome to the Hour of Power, Bobby Hayden Jr. Bobby was a child star born to sing. He was only seven years old when he appeared on national TV shows that included Johnny Carson's "The Tonight Show," and Ted "Mack's Amateur Hour." When the Beatles became popular, so did Bobby Hayden. He toured with Paul Revere and the Raiders, and Ozzy Osbourne.
Let's hear about what happens next in his life. Welcome with me this morning, Bobby Hayden, Jr.
BH: What a pleasure to be here!
BS: We want to hear your testimony. Let's start with your music career. How long were you in music and what was that like?
BH: I was introduced to show business at a very young age, around eight years old, and that was my first addiction. I was addicted to applause and fame at a very young age, which would cause me to run into a few problems later on.
When the British invasion came in the ‘60's, I was first up to bat. I started playing in rock bands, and my mother and father, they liked the old standards. They had me in Las Vegas with Jimmy Durante, on the Milton Berle Show and singing Sinatra tunes.
Later, I was in a rebellious time of my life. I got into rock and roll and I made it to Hollywood in early 1980. I got my own rock band and lived with rock musicians that played with bigger bands. I did the MTV thing and traveled the country and sex, drugs and rock and roll swallowed me up and kicked me around to a very dark place.
It went on through the ‘80's, and in the ‘90's, the sex, drugs and rock and roll became an everyday thing. It was something to wake me up in the morning, something to put me to bed in the evening, and by the end of the late ‘90's, I found myself completely homeless, living in a cardboard box at the corner of 31 and Broadway in downtown Los Angeles.
I remember in 2000, I was purchasing heroin and living behind a row of bushes. And then it got worse. I got a cardboard box, and I injected heroin anywhere from five to ten times a day. I was the guy on the side of the road holding up a sign that said "hungry, will work for food," only I was working for drugs. All the money that I received went straight to drugs.
I weighed 122 pounds, my whole body was needle ridden with injections, and I was lying in my cardboard box. Now I was raised Catholic, so little things like I knew my mother and father were getting older and I wasn't honoring them. That was a little knock on my door. What I was doing to my temple that housed the Holy Spirit; that was another little knock on the door.
One day, a man came to me in my box when my body was riddled with poison and he said, "Bobby, you're not going to be around much longer. You better try praying in the name of the Jesus." He also told me that the world was coming to a place of new world order: case less societies and the anti-Christ. I said, "My Lord, where you getting' all this information?" He said, "In the book of Revelations."
So instead of the book of self, I got the book of Revelations and I started inquiring. The more I read, the little seed was planted and my seed was the seed of a mustard seed.
And one day, I was going to purchase heroin and I said, "Yahweh, I beseech Thee in the name of Jesus Christ." Two days later, a man by the name of Mr. Esperanza, a baker, knocked on my cardboard box. He said, "Bobby a family in Phoenix, Arizona woke up in the middle of the night crying. They know you're out here on the streets of Los Angeles, and they'd like to bring you to Phoenix." I got goose bumps and I said, "Oh my Lord, I've been praying in the name of Jesus for two days and all of a sudden I got a way out."
For some reason, I met him on the side of the road. He had his mother there from Mexico City. She had just flown to Los Angeles. They got off the plane at LAX and they came and picked me up. She didn't speak a word of English.
I got in his van and he took me to the bus station. I got out of that van and his mother grabbed me, looked at me and as God as my witness, she said, "Honey, it's all over now." She didn't speak a word of English! I had goose bumps as I'm walking onto that bus. I got on the bus with a little medicine to get me to Phoenix and the bus pulled over, in all places, in a little town called Needles, California. And I'm one needle ridden human being!
So by now I was out of medicine and I went into the McDonald's bathroom, closed the door and said, "Yahweh, I beseech Thee one more time. I'll give my life to You wherever I'm going. Just have Your hands open for me and help me. Give me some inspiration and some hope."
I arrived in Phoenix and there were a few people there waiting for me. They had my ID and my social security card. They were going to hold the doors open to the methadone center to get me dosed that day. Now while they were setting all this up, a man overheard them talking and said, "I have a six bedroom house in Fountain Hills, Arizona. He can live there if he feeds my dogs." At that point in time, I said, "Jesus, can You slow it down a little bit?"
I went to the desert for a year and I picked up a bible and started listening to the preachers on TV. I watered that seed. After a year in the desert, I said, "Jesus, You have to take the want away from these drugs, cigarettes and alcohol. I've asked You in Jesus' name before and here I am again." A couple of days later, my father called me from Indiana and said, "Bobby, a doctor here in Indiana said that you're going to be on a maintenance program of methadone for the rest of your life." At that very moment something clicked in my brain and it made me upset, and I said I don't think so. I cut my dosage in half the next day, and fifteen days later, I was completely off of methadone.
BS: So where are you today? What's life like now?
BH: Well the miracles just kept coming. My sister from Indiana called me and said, "Come to Indiana" so I went there. After a month or so, a man knocked on the door and said, "We understand that Bobby Hayden is living in your basement. We have a church right around the corner called the North Park Community Church and they need a worship director." Their worship director was going to discontinue working there. So I learned some hymns and went back to church for the first time in 30 years. When I arrived at the church, there was a black man playing the guitar. I walked up to that man, Mr. Orlando Jones, and I said, "I'm supposed to talk to you about something." And he said, "Well Bobby, I'm a recording producer. I have my own studio here in Indianapolis." And I thought that's it! I'll rekindle my career. I asked him, "Where are you located?" And as God as my witness, he looked at me, after eight years on a corner in a cardboard box in Los Angeles at 31 and Broadway, he said, "My studio is at 31 and Broadway downtown Indianapolis."
BH: Honest to God story! Today, it's been five years since I left on a bus, riddled with needle injections, a heroin addict. And to make a long story short, I received a phone call from a lady here at the Crystal Cathedral. I found myself waking up this morning, after accepting Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior on the 9th floor of the Marriott Hotel, looking across the land there at the Crystal Cathedral with the big cross looking at me, and I came here to do a world television show to tell your congregation this story. Does it have to be any clearer?
BS: You know, Bobby, we're so grateful that you're here today. There are millions of people listening around the world. If you could say in one sentence what message your life gives, what would you say?
BH: I have a ministry now called the Cardboard Box Ministry. There is no doubt about it that I'm called to go out and try to help fix the broken. You have to be of sound mind. You have to be quiet. You have to listen and you've got to hear that little knock on the door. If you can just crack the door open, He'll come right in and He can rebuild you. But you need to just open that door. That's it. It's the easiest thing I ever did in my whole life, just getting out of the way.
BS: Thank you, Bobby, we will. And when the Lord knocks on our door, we'll remember always to answer it. Thank you, sir, for coming.
BH: Thank you very much.
BS: Ladies and gentlemen, Bobby will play a song for us that he wrote called, "Bring Me Christians."