McHenry Ellis plays woodwinds—sax, flute and clarinet. A veteran Las Vegas musician, he has been at Golden Era since 1989, where he worked with Ron Miscavige.
Ron Miscavige was a member of the Golden Era Musicians Band when I joined it in 1989, all the way to the time he took off (without telling anybody) in 2012.
As time went on, Ron’s playing abilities deteriorated (he was far from perfect in the first place) and he practiced almost never. So with his refusal to practice, any strength, endurance, even tone quality, deteriorated to the point where they were just gone. All playing was just a struggle, and it was a distraction for the other musicians, as Ron was not up to the same level as the others technically, who were not only holding ground, but advancing. There were music pieces or songs that we didn’t perform because they would require him to practice and learn to execute the music, as they were a little more challenging and advanced, and Ron wouldn’t put out the effort to learn them. In fact, he would insist they be cancelled from the repertoire. His music basics were just gone, which Ron pretended was not the case, and so his scope shrank.
His music basics were just gone, which Ron pretended was not the case, and so his scope shrank.
For over 10 years, when not playing third trumpet in the band, Ron’s official job was Music Scoring Officer who oversees composing and arranging. I rarely saw him operate as such, however. In the last few years Ron was here, he didn’t work on music for any of the films, documentaries, etc. being done nor on any of the last couple of major events, or do anything that I saw in the way of supervising the scoring of them. His boss stepped in and did his job.
On melody writing and arranging, Ron didn’t expand his knowledge in this area, and so squashed his own ability to contribute, and he became, by and large, ineffective and useless.
I’ve played with some of the finest musicians on the planet over the years. One for one they always proudly remained “students” in that they put effort into maintaining and advancing their abilities. I seldom (almost never) saw Ron practicing his instrument. That’s why he became ineffective.
I seldom (almost never) saw Ron practicing his instrument. That’s why he became ineffective.
Ron had a long-term recurring situation of not doing any homework or research on what needed to be scored but jumped into it, “shooting from the hip” (how he “knew” it should be), and as a result winding up with rejected music that just didn’t work.
One thing Ron would say was that he didn’t know current music and that was the problem leading to many rejects from the Music Director. The real problem was that Ron didn’t DO anything about it, and didn’t do (or only superficially) the homework on a property to be scored.
I helped (others did also) in acquiring for Ron music examples and scores of various types, for reference, that had been done here, approved, and USED, so he could study these towards producing some usable music.
Ron complained that his music was being rejected without good reason, but he would not seek or accept any help to sort it out. The truth is, he actually had a lot of direction from the Music Director, and received special attention in instruction numerous times. But then he would be “caught out” for not doing homework or applying composing or arranging fundamentals, and thus neglecting things that are simply a part of scoring, thus getting rejects.
An example of this is that there was an analysis done and written up on four successful new Church openings that actually established some of these fundamental scoring points. Ron was given this, but didn’t use it (though I made sure he got a copy of it) and consequently his work couldn’t be used without major revamping or just re-doing.
Ron talked like a prophet of doom.
Ron talked like a prophet of doom, many times saying that he should get another job somewhere else, because he couldn’t contribute, couldn’t get a handle on scoring music in modern styles, or he was too old, and that he was being kept from producing, implying that this was coming from the Music Director rejecting his unusable scores. When he listened to music of one kind or another from recent times, he said none of it was any good.
Quite often Ron would ask me or another fellow musician to help him with his scoring computer (which he never learned to use), saying “Show me how to do it or I’ll never learn it.” But he would ask for help on the same things over and over, which anyone could have mastered, if only through sheer repetition.
I worked with Ron right here in the Music Department for more than two decades. I’m not interested in having any communication with him now, after he walked out so arrogantly without any comment, and no word from him since—not an apology, thank you, goodbye—nothing. But when I heard what he is doing and saying, I couldn’t help but respond, considering how unbelievable and vast his fantasy is.
While Ron complains about how badly he was treated here, I and the rest of the Music staff witnessed what was really happening. The staff here at Golden Era worked our asses off to help Ron, solely out of respect for his son, as Ron sure didn’t treat any of us too well.
The staff here at Golden Era worked our asses off to help Ron, solely out of respect for his son, as Ron sure didn’t treat any of us too well.
It was unpleasant to be around Ron—not just because of his demeanor, but because he was such a slob in regards to handling his environment and his belongings. I’m not one who gets carried away on the subject of cleanliness and such. I am referring to the gross mess his personal stuff was always in (his composing room, his car), the way he kept his files and equipment, with a total lack of any care.
Ron was argumentative and a bully.
I’ve seen Ron (and he did this to me) pushing people out of the way in an antagonistic fashion if they were passing by him or just trying to get by in a tight space (like in the kitchen). I used to think this was a joke—until I realized there was no comedic follow-up. He actually thought and acted that way—hostile towards others. Ron was argumentative and a bully.
Lastly, it was so cowardly how Ron sneaked out. What a coward. He said nothing and just took off. Ron could have been a man, told us the truth and left at any time. He lied, however, in fact, just like he is doing now.
Ron could have been a man, told us the truth and left at any time.
A standard practice in the professional music world (or any professional job) is to give notice on leaving a job—you don’t just take off. I recall once, during the decade or so that I worked in Las Vegas, when I was playing for a successful show, I was invited to play a leading part in the orchestra in the showroom at a different, more major hotel. I gave proper notice, so the director could find a replacement, and the cast and crew of that show gave me a festive sendoff with best wishes—and no lack of friendship.
Ron couldn’t be bothered with those niceties. He was mutinous and obstinate to the bitter end. He never even bothered to send us a note after he left.
The band and actually the whole Music Department has come up in level quite a bit since he left. Not just because the time we used to spend dealing with his nonsense is now available for actual production, but that his supremely negative influence is long gone, and the whole Music Department feels that change.
There is a big bunch of dedicated, real people here, who were his friends. We are intent on our jobs, and are not going to be distracted by “cur dogs yapping at our wheels,” spreading fabrications about this place or the leader of our religion.