L. Ron Hubbard's Weird Music Career
Apart from founding Scientology, Hubbard fashioned himself a composer and musician. There's a small body of his work out there, and it's approximately as good as the movie Battlefield Earth.
It's well known that L. Ron Hubbard was a sci-fi novelist in addition to founding the Church of Scientology. But his myriad of talents didn't stop just at the written word -- one of his passions was music. He considered himself something of a composer and producer, and a handful of his famous musician devotees made the effort to record his works.
Assembled here is a (mostly) complete guide to The Master's masterworks:
1. Space Jazz: The soundtrack of the book Battlefield Earth
Hubbard conceived of an album of music to go along to his sci-fi novel Battlefield Earth, and in 1982, jazz legend Chick Corea, a Scientologist, actually recorded it. The album was arranged and composed by two others, "under the direction of" L. Ron himself, who was at that time something of a recluse.
L. Ron became very interested in a particular synthsizer that was popular in the early '80s called the Fairlight CMI. Church of Scientology literature about Hubbard's music career talks about how he discovered untapped potential in the instrument that the inventors of the Fairlight had never considered.
In fact, the Fairlight was very popular in the '80s, so much so that Phil Collins was moved to state in his album notes for No Jacket Required that the Fairlight was NOT used on the record. Kate Bush used the Fairlight extensively on Hounds of Love, proving you can make good music with it, not just weird a weird jumble of horse sounds like Hubbard did.
Hubbard's absurd Fairlight composition, complete with horse noises
L. Ron workin' the mixing board
2. Road to Freedom
In the mid-80s, a group of Scientology musicians recorded an album called The Road to Freedom based on L. Ron's lyrics and music.
The first track off the album is sung by John Travolta, '70s teen idol Leif Garrett, and Frank Stallone, and features awesome Scientology-speak lyrics like:
To you there is no limit
Knowledge is your key
Take the route of auditing
And once again be free.
Road to Freedom wasn't released until just after Hubbard's death in 1986. But praise Xenu, a recording of Hubbard singing a capella on a demo track was discovered and added over a music track. This became the final track, "L'Envoi, Thank You for Listening".
He's got a nice baritone, not bad.
L. Ron Hubbard sings his own composition:
3. Mission Earth
70's rock musician and Scientolgist Edgar Winter recorded the 1986 album Mission Earth of Hubbard's lyrics and music. Like Space Jazz, this is a companion to Hubbard's 10-book sci-fi series called Mission Earth.
While a sci-fi concept album isn't the most unusual thing ever, the lyrics on this one are particularly hilarious. Winter's excellent musicianship is the only thing redeeming this.
4. The Apollo Stars
Hubbard assembled a jazz/rock group he called the Apollo Stars, who recorded album Power of Source in 1974. The Apollo Stars were the house band for the Scientology-owned Apollo ship, and had an accompanying dance troupe.
On an ex-Scientologist messageboard, several former members posted about how they were forced to listen to Power of Source at Scientology events, and how they loathed it. The bongo player from the Apollo Stars stepped in to apologize for the record, though he claims the group did get better after the album was recorded:
None of you ever got to hear any of the other incredible albums we recorded - that's right!" We recorded others. To this day I don't know why they never got mixed and put onto vinyl...and I so wish I had copies of those tapes for personal reasons. I wonder if they still exist and may one day surface as "The Lost Apoolo Stars tapes"
One cassette tape I recorded during a kick ass band rehearsal, which contained 15 of our later songs...I sent to my mom back in 1974...I got it back, but then I lost it sometime in the recent 2000's.
I hate myself for this.
Here's an excerpt from the Apollo Stars' song "We're Moving In". The full song has more instrumental jazz at the beginning, but this portion is the creepy drumming and chanting breakdown where they repeat over and over "this planet is ours."
The full album can be downloaded here.
5. The Joy of Creating
Released in 2001, this album by various Scientologist musicians includes Doug E. Fresh, Edgar Winter, and Isaac Hayes performing songs with lyrics by Hubbard. Sadly, I haven't been able to locate any of these songs online, though the CD is available through Amazon.
Bonus: Scientologist leaders star in inspirational sing-along
David Miscaivage and other top Scientologists appear in the video of this "We Are The World" style video made in 1990. It's sung by David Pomeranz, a soft-rock songwriter who is best known for writing a few Barry Manilow songs.
Though L. Ron Hubbard isn't involved in this song at all, you can see how his legacy of truly terrible '80s music lives on.