• Fellow Musician: “Ron was no more than a musician, a trumpet player, in a church band”


    A letter to St. Martin’s Press from Chris Maio, Guitarist, Golden Era Productions
    Chris Maio portrait
    Chris Maio
     

    I heard you are publishing a book written by Ron Miscavige. Well, I worked with him for years as a musician at Golden Era Productions and I wanted to make my story known to you about him. He is trying to paint a picture of a scene that never happened. It seems to me that you should hear from one of the guys in the band who knew and worked with him every day before you print a fictitious story that can be proven false by me and many other people who had personal dealings with him on a daily basis. We have photos and written documentation.

    The only story of Ron Miscavige is like this: Ron was no more than a musician, a trumpet player, in a church band. I am the guitar player in that same band. End of story.

    Chris Maio and Ron Miscavige performing on stage

    In terms of Ron’s abilities as a member of the band, he was a second-rate musician. His musical incompetence came from his total refusal to really learn his craft. The rest of the guys in the band all practiced, all studied, all continually strived to become better, even though the band was made up of professional players. The only one in the band who didn’t do this and wasn’t a pro was Ron, and the rest of the guys tried to get him to do so but he wouldn’t.

    Ron’s parts had to be rewritten for him to play on the gigs—to dumb them down because he couldn’t play them. In the studio, another trumpet player had to do all of the trumpet performances because Ron couldn’t produce a quality recording. Any of the few performances he did do took forever and the guy recording was always frustrated at having to record him because he was so arrogant and belittling of him. As I am also the music mixer, I personally had to fix Ron’s performances digitally with special software in the computer to make them okay, kind of like Milli Vanilli. And anything that he did do over the last several years, we replaced.

    Ron was really unpleasant to work with. Just to give you an idea of how crass he was, here are some examples of my experiences with him:

    • He would say to someone who needed to use the bathroom, “just shit in your pants like a real man!” He would yell this loudly for everybody present to hear so as to embarrass them and try to get a laugh (it wasn’t funny).
    • Or one time when I was walking with him backstage and we were in a rented hall and Ron was unwrapping a package, and he then took the wrapping and threw it on the floor and said to me, “It gives somebody a job.” I don’t know who it was he was referring to.
    • Or another time we had a French director who would be directing the shooting and scoring of a video and Ron would make fun of the director’s French nationality by calling him “soup of the day,” which was a play on the French term, “soup du jour.” This was done to belittle the French director.

    “…the crew here at Golden Era Productions treated Ron with the utmost regard and kindness because he was Mr. Miscavige’s dad”

    But even despite this, the crew here at Golden Era Productions treated Ron with the utmost regard and kindness because he was Mr. Miscavige’s dad, and the amount of times the medical staff attended to him to make sure he was physically cared for was far in excess of any other staff member. Despite this, Ron physically shoved one of the nurses (a little French woman) and screamed at her at the top of his lungs while she was trying to help him. No other member in the band got anywhere near that level of medical attention—they got what they needed, but he was waited on hand and foot only because he was Mr. Miscavige’s dad.

    Then there were our shows. When we would perform, Ron acted the part of a prima donna. I’ve played guitar for some big artists and none of them, who were actually important, ever acted even nearly the way he did. For example we would be getting into our costumes before a concert and Ron would typically flare up at the costume girls who were getting all the band members to look their best. You could just see that they really hated having to deal with him. None of the other band members nor even the VIP performers treated the costumes staff like this. In fact I actually saw, at a show in England, Ron yelling at the costume girls because the brand-new shirt he was given had not been washed after unwrapping it brand new. He was outraged. And I’ve seen this happen time and again where he would yell at the costume personnel and get them totally bent out of shape. He acted like (and I guess believed) that he was being “done in” by them somehow. And it wasn’t just a few times that I saw this, it was prevalent with him and would happen at nearly every show. It was so embarrassing. He had no manners about displaying this attitude in front of other staff and VIPs. If the costume people didn’t drop what they were doing and handle Ron’s demands immediately then he would yell at them like they were some kind of degraded servants.

    When we went to the Freewinds cruise ship for an anniversary event that gets done every year, and we would be in a little rehearsal room and the ship staff would be bringing Ron hot and cold drinks—espressos, cappuccinos—and he would have the arrogance to even complain to them that it wasn’t quite hot enough or not enough sugar. He got his own suite on the upper decks of the ship. He was given carte blanche on his schedule, sleeping in and going home early while the rest of the band was buckling down rehearsing their parts and writing the charts for the next show that evening and no one in the band even complained. At the Church in Clearwater when we performed at the Ruth Eckerd Hall, again Ron had his own schedule, sleeping in, going home early and the staff cared for him—it was strictly because he was Mr. Miscavige’s dad and because the staff at Golden Era Productions, Freewinds and in Clearwater all love and respect Mr. Miscavige so much as their leader that they wanted to take care of his father and make sure he had every comfort taken care of. They were never ordered to do this, it was their pride and honor alone.

    And the same story happened again at the Saint Hill Church in England—Ron was even chauffeured around on his own schedule by the Saint Hill staff. He was given his own quarters to sleep in while the rest of the band slept in dorms (like any other band members in the world would do except for super famous ones, which we were not) and again he got special service from the Saint Hill staff on their own origination because they wanted to make sure that Mr. Miscavige’s dad was treated A-plus—and he certainly was and it was certainly not because of his trumpet playing. I wonder if he is getting the same treatment today? Does he still walk up to people and say, “Do you know who I am?” and get people bringing him platters of food, cappuccinos, preparing clothing for him, looking after his schedule and quarters, chauffeur service, laundry service, etc.? I seriously doubt it.

    At Golden Era Productions Ron had his own schedule, he had his own production room, and we were even given the most beautiful and professional studio in the world to use to create musical scores in, by Mr. Miscavige, who made sure that every detail of the studio—the equipment, the designs, the renovations, and even down to little audio technical details—was perfect for us to produce in. No other leader that I am aware of personally goes down to those details to make sure staffs have everything they need to do their jobs. All Ron had to do was compose melodies—not even do arrangements or perform the music in the studio or write lyrics—just write melodies. And with all of the extra attention he got from the staff at Golden Era because he was Mr. Miscavige’s dad, he promptly produced nothing. Were he not Mr. Miscavige’s dad, the rest of the band members would have thrown him out of the band a long time ago—who needs a second rate trumpet player who can’t even write a decent melody?

    And on top of that he is now writing a book like he had some special insight into Church affairs that no one else had? Wow, what world is he dreaming? In fact I do recall Ron complaining to me about 100 times (no exaggeration) about how we were not being told what was going on with the management of the Church. I don’t know what kind of a briefing a trumpet player would consider that he should get about the management of a major religious movement anyway. And the last time I checked, the Pope was not going around briefing the local choir members on his plans for the expansion of the Catholic Church, so why would Ron think that from his position as a trumpet player he would be given some special briefing?

    The truth that I have seen with my own eyes is that Ron’s visits with Mr. Miscavige were few and far between and were personal. When he did see Mr. Miscavige, he would come back and would tell me how it was just family business he was discussing with him—Mr. Miscavige’s childhood in England, or childhood stories of his upbringing in Pennsylvania and that they had a good laugh about this. Or watching the Super Bowl together and having a great time. He would tell us about the food they had and recounted stories about the family. That was it.

    Ron didn’t get any inside skinny and he was only told the same plans that any of the other band members were told, which is only what little information was needed for us to be able to contribute to the expansion of Scientology from our position as musicians. But what more information would a trumpet player need? Simple—perform shows, create music.

    And to prove he is full of it, I remember one time I found Ron gambling and told him he should not be doing that, after all he was a member of a church clergy (imagine seeing a Catholic priest gambling?!) He then promptly told me how he was going to have his son remove me from the band. Well, I’m still in the band. His “special line” didn’t actually exist—only in his head.

    I can remember several times when we had an international event coming up and had deadlines… and Mr. Miscavige, knowing that we were working hard to get it done, had special food runs and treats made for us—pizza, burgers, quesadillas, hot dogs, protein bars, fondues—you name it.  

    What I do remember is that on the occasions that Mr. Miscavige did come and see the band, it was always a special moment. He would always consider that we were better or more important than we considered ourselves. After all, we were really just the band playing some nice music, doing the things we love to do, and in a beautiful studio. In fact I can remember several times when we had an international event coming up and had deadlines to meet on getting the music scores done (like every Hollywood music production company does) and Mr. Miscavige, knowing that we were working hard to get it done, had special food runs and treats made for us—pizza, burgers, quesadillas, hot dogs, protein bars, fondues—you name it. I don’t know of any other religious or big company leader who goes down to even the smallest staff members (like the guitar player that I am) and sees to their well being. Talk about selfless care from somebody who is actually very important, being given to band members who were of minor importance—just some guys writing music for videos and enjoying themselves while doing it. And the staff at Golden Era Productions treated Ron like a king and tolerated his arrogant self-importance and all because they love and respect Mr. Miscavige not just as a leader but as a selfless and caring individual.

    Now imagine my surprise about hearing that Ron is complaining about how he was treated! Let’s see, was it about the nice days off we had together in London after a successful performance, having a good time and eating well? Or was it the days off in the Bahamas? Or maybe it was Aruba? Or maybe it was the lavish Christmas dinners? Or the times we went out to the movies? There were really many nice times we had together.

    Ron Miscavige and Chris Maio in London smoking cigars
    Chris Maio and Ron Miscavige, London, 2001
     

    Then after having just spent the day with us and saying goodnight, goes home and the next day takes off and never shows up again, not a call, not a letter, nothing. And the next thing I know he is writing a book, not about his life as a musician in the Golden Era band, which could certainly be about all of us guys in the band and our life together (which I guess could be interesting)—no, a book with bogus fancied data to try and make money off his own son, whom he should be thankful for the treatment he got because of that fact, and to spread a bunch of lies about our place, our life and what we do. He is treasonous to our band. And frankly, without his son, he was nothing more to us than a second-rate trumpet player whom we would have promptly fired, but instead who we put up with for years and now he stabs us in the back with lies—nice guy.

    Please consider, before publishing his book, that a lot of people will be able to blow huge holes into what he is saying. Many of us have seen it with our own eyes, and his is some fancied insane story.

    Sincerely,

    Chris Maio
    Guitarist