Dreams of becoming a ‘metal god’ like Ozzie Osbourne came true for Brian ‘Head’ Welch after joining four others to form heavy metal band Korn in 1993, which has won two Grammy Awards and achieved multiple platinum sales worldwide with over 50 million albums sold.
In 2005 Brian shocked the world when he left Korn to raise his daughter saying, “I was a junkie, a single dad and a rock star, but inside I was dead”.
After hitting rock bottom he explains that he had nowhere else to turn except to give his life to Jesus Christ.
To those who thought he was crazy to leave Korn, he told CNN, “If I’m wrong, I have a better family life, my kid looks up to me, I don’t want to die or do drugs. I’m healed from all alcoholism.
“I have everything to gain, and the other way I was living, I had everything to lose.”
In 1991, Brian joined four high school friends from Bakersfield, California to pursue their rock star dreams in Hollywood.
After renaming as Korn in 1993, they landed a record deal and became pioneers of the rap-metal genre as they fused hip-hop beats and heavy guitar riffs. By their third album they were number one on the Billboard chart.
“We hit such the ‘big time’, we couldn’t even handle it,” Brian tells a group gathered at Moment Church in Fullerton, California in 2012.
“The drug dealers came with their girls under their control. It’s a crazy dark world…you’re waking up sick every day.”
Brian decided it was all worth it to gain fame, money and status alongside childhood stars like Ozzie Osbourne.
However, he admits that partying and lengthy tours to satisfy up to 200,000 concert-goers cost him his marriage and hurt his daughter, Jennea.
“After a few years all five band members lost their marriages,” he says.
With custody of his daughter, he became an attentive single dad for a while but confesses, “Nothing seemed to satisfy me.”
At rock bottom he was again addicted to crystal meth and cocaine, and no detox pill could heal his unhappiness.
“I couldn’t buy happiness,” he says.
“Drugs were like my energy to get up in the day. It was scary to run out.”
In 2004, he began hanging with a group of Christians in Bakersfield who built monster trucks.
One of them, Doug, Brian recalls, “had an awesome family, his kids were respectful. I was thinking, I need to get sober like this guy.”
Near the end of 2004 Brian accepted Doug’s invitation to attend church, only hoping it would help him get off drugs.
Stepping into the church, on the front screen Brian found fresh hope as he read Jesus’ words: “Come to me all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest, Matthew 11, verse 28.”
After feeling a peace in the gathering as they sang, Brian was surprised when the pastor began explaining his violent past.
“Fifteen years ago,” the pastor said, “I picked up my girlfriend and threw her against the wall.”
He then explained, “There’s nothing that you have done, that God can’t change.”
“God is so real,” the pastor said, “if you give Him your life and talk to Him every day He will start to transform you from the inside out. And all the bad things in your life will start to fall away, one by one.”
“Man, I got to try it at least,” Brian thought.
“Inside, I was a depressed miserable dude wearing a mask,” Brian admits. “I was sick of it. I was tired and weary, man. I couldn’t buy freedom or peace.”
After surrendering his life to Jesus Christ, trusting that Jesus took the penalty for his sin, it took two weeks of humble prayer before God took his drug addiction away.
Still addicted to meth, Brian recalls that as he read the Bible “it was reading me; everything was pertaining to my life.”
Then, as he read his Bible, he had a life-changing experience.
“I just felt this presence wrap around me and pour into my soul. It was from another realm. The invisible God came in and touched my heart.
“It was the most beautiful feeling I have ever felt in my entire life.”
It prompted Brian to throw away all his drugs, and he says “I went after this with everything I am.”
Disregarding the ridicule that would come, over the next several days he felt a prompting from God to quit Korn to raise his daughter properly.
Now writing his own God-honouring songs, Brian has given away most of the money he once cherished because he recognised that, like drugs, “money made me a horrible person.”
“It’s been the best of times and some of the hardest times of my life but I got the eternal peace that I am where I am supposed to be,” he says.
“There are 70 million kids on the streets in India and I would rather spend my money on getting them to know God,” Brian told CNN in 2006 shortly after he visited India to fund homes for street children.
He says he is motivated by God’s love that resides in his heart.
“When Jesus went to the cross, died for our sins and went up there, now Jesus through the (Holy) Spirit is poured out,” he explains. “That’s how we’re able to have Him live inside. He directs us, He speaks to us and He loves on us.
“God’s like an ocean; you can dip your toes in, or dive in and get everything. That’s where the fun starts, man.”
As someone who “ran out of stuff to buy” Brian advises; “if you’re chasing things of this world, you will never be satisfied.
“At the end of the day they’re nothing. They will not satisfy.”
After eight years apart, in May 2013, Brian formally reconciled with Korn, saying that it feels like the right time. He re-joins fellow Christian and Korn bassist Reginald ‘Fieldy’ Arvizu, who, like Brian, has written a memoir chronicling his change of heart.
Brian is also lead singer and guitarist in his own alternative rock band Love and Death.