DENISE: My name is Denise Sommerville and I’ve been at Golden Era Productions since 1987. I… I was here the entire time—I mean, Ron… I was here working with Ron from 1987 until 2012 when he left. I was in the band with him as a singer for the first seven years I was here. And then after that, the majority of the time I’ve been either his direct superior, or his superior’s superior. So I know Ron very well.
ADAM: And my name is Adam Reuveni. I’m the Music Director at Golden Era Productions. I’ve been working with Ron since 2001 until 2012, when he just left without saying anything one night. And during that whole time, I worked with him every single day.
RICK: My name’s Rick Cruzen. I’m a composer, arranger, musician. I’ve been here for forty years and I was here the day Ron arrived in late 1985. And I was at that time in charge of the band and he was in the band. So I got to know Ron really well.
ADAM: Well, during the time I was working with Ron from 2001 until he left in 2012, I always noticed that Mr. David Miscavige was a very caring and compassionate son. I always saw that on Ron’s birthdays, on Christmas, Father’s Day, he would always send a nice present, food, often he would call him on these special occasions. And Mr. David Miscavige treated him very, very properly and very warmly, from what I could see. And the way I would know is Ron would always tell me. He’d always show me something that…that his son had gotten for him, or a nice card. He would always tell us about these things because it seemed to mean a lot to him and they always were very…they were very nice presents and it was really nice. And this was really the only time though that Ron and Mr. David Miscavige would interact much.
Because otherwise what was happening is, we were here in the studio day in and day out for years working on music or in the band playing performances and rehearsals and so forth, and Ron wasn’t really interacting beyond what any normal musician here would do. Mr. David Miscavige does oversee matters as far as international events because there’s a message to the public and ensuring obviously that the message of one of our films is what L. Ron Hubbard intended.
But that interaction is not very long. There’s not a lot of interacting. And it was always very specifically in regards to a melody, instrumentation, a mix. Those were sort of the interactions that the musicians like myself and Ron would have with Mr. David Miscavige. And always Mr. Miscavige would be very helpful in regards to the music we were doing. He was very insightful. He would have very specific ideas as to what could be done to improve music, or when something was done well, he would always tell us it was amazing or we did a great job.
But there wasn’t a lot of time that Ron would spend with him other than these tiny little segments of time. At no time during this did Ron have any other involvement with Mr. Miscavige as Chairman of the Board. There was simply the familial small occasions that happened a couple times. And then there was times where he’s specifically talking about a piece of music. And that was really it.
DENISE: I… if I could add to that—I mean the… Mr.… Mr. David Miscavige is—one thing, that is so, so true is that business is business and personal is personal. And they don’t mix. So maybe one could say, well, if we were with Ron all this time while he was doing music, what about the times he spent alone with Mr. Miscavige? They were personal.
ADAM: From my observation, Mr. David Miscavige always made a very clear delineation between when he was being Chairman of the Board Religious Technology Center and when he was being the son of Ron Miscavige.
He had these things very separated out. And to be very specific, since I was working with Ron all the time, there was a couple occasions where I would just get to participate with something with Ron, in something that Mr. David Miscavige did for him, just as a kind gesture. For example, one time I know Mr. Miscavige had been talking to Ron about these delicious tacos that he had heard about a recipe before.
So, I went down to the dining room and Ron and I got to enjoy these delicious tacos together that Mr. Miscavige had prepared for us. And it wasn’t about—there was no business here. This was just a familial relationship. This is just the son saying, “Hey, you know, Pops, check this out. These are some delicious—you gotta check out this recipe.” That was the kind of relationship that I’d observe.
Or one time we got to see a nice comedy that Mr. Miscavige had arranged. There was nothing having to do with some sort of management or work, it was simply about Ron getting to have a good time and enjoying himself watching a film. It was very clearly delineated. Even so much as, that one time when we were having a meeting on a piece of music, Ron started trying to play around with Mr. Miscavige. And Mr. Miscavige said, “Hey Ron, not right now. I’m on post.” And he very clearly delineated that when…when he was working, Mr. David Miscavige is COB RTC. He’s… he’s not acting as Ron’s son. And these things were kept very clear. And I’m… and I… I can see why. For anyone, you’d want to keep your familial and work relations distinctly different.
And so for Ron to say that he had some information—yeah, maybe he got to learn more about some special taco recipe, or he saw a nice movie, or he had a… he had a good time talking about good old days of his youth. But there was no management or special information. Anything that Ron says about management or anything like that are just hearsay, things that he heard from disgruntled apostates—which Ron had no personal knowledge of anyway. And he’s just using—because he’s a con artist.
DENISE: By the way, on what he just said, Ron never said an unkind word about his son. In fact, he would brag about how he was the greatest religious leader ever, about how smart he always was, about how awesome he thought he was, about—he was so proud of his son. And then all of a sudden, you know, it’s just, you know, sell your… sell your… sell your family down the river for a quick buck. I don’t know, I just—it is unbelievable, considering when he was here, I never once heard him do anything but boast like a proud papa. Ever!
DENISE: Okay. I… I would get, I personally would get moved by what would happen with Ron on his birthdays, because Mr. Miscavige would take such care to make sure that Ron had a blow-away birthday every year.
One thing that would happen every…every year, for the last several years that Ron was here, was he would have a dinner that was like a spread, like a feast that was laid out for him down in the dining room at the…at the most prestigious table in the dining room. Like the—with an incredible view and food for like, days. Like, it was days’ worth of food. Like he couldn’t eat it all in one day and it would get brought out to him as leftovers for days after that.
But he and his wife would get the night off. There would be photographers down there taking pictures, they’d have champagne or wine or whatever, and Ron would just…. It was really important to his son that he be happy on his birthday and have a wonderful birthday. Right? And that was like, that was the coolest thing, you know. And no… nobody… everybody just left them alone, he and his wife, so they could have a beautiful time together, you know. And this happened once a year, and everybody always knew—ah, it’s Ron’s birthday. He’s going to have this awesome dinner.
He also—like, one year Mr. Miscavige and his other kids gave him a brand new car. He had this—the whole time I knew him, he had this white station wagon, okay, and it was pretty old after a while. Well, they gave him a brand new one, of the same—because they knew he loved his car. They specifically… Mr. Miscavige specifically made sure he got the same car but a brand new version, with a big bow on it. And Ron had that car trashed in a couple weeks, believe it or not, just with food and crap and junk all over it. But he had that.
One year he got this Italian scooter, because he was getting older and it was harder for him to walk around the base. So he got this really beautiful navy blue Italian scooter. You know, it was always like the best. He got this pocket trumpet. One year he got a real, full size trumpet. You know, he always got incredible gifts and it was always really important that he had a… just the most awesome birthday ever. And we all backed it up and it was always a thing.
ADAM: So I was working with Ron for ten years every single day, every week. That’s…that’s what we did, we were working on music. And the… the problem that I’d always run into is, you know, I… I want the guy to do well, I want Ron to succeed in the music he’s doing. But the problem is he would do a piece of music and—I’ll give you an example: he was going to write some music for one of our new organizations that was opening in
And when you’re writing music for film, it’s really important that you do some research on the place you’re doing the music for. That way the music can pay proper tribute and be representative of what you’re trying to do. But Ron had a habit of never studying up on anything he was going to do the music for. So therefore he presented to me this piece of music for Nashville, and to me, I didn’t think it sounded anything like
We spent so much time trying to help him do well. And the problem was, is that he’d always say, “Oh, yeah, I understand and I, I want to do well,” but he always, Ron would always put up this pretense of he wanted to improve and get better. So you’d think okay, well let me see what I can do to help this guy. Obviously he’s not getting it. Let me try to help him. So you’d—I’d get him, people came in and trained him on the equipment we would use. I had certain tutorials, manuals, anything for Ron to just help him learn what he was doing and get his feet on the ground.
But it never really worked for him because he wasn’t really passionate about it. And so therefore what he would do was not very good but he also just wasn’t into it. People usually like doing music. It’s a fun activity to do music especially when you have incredible facilities for producing it. But nothing was good enough for him.
DENISE: To answer your question from my perspective also, I mean like Adam just said, the musicians are nuts about music. They love music, like Carl practices for hours a day on his trumpet. Ron would never practice, like I think you can count how many times he ever practiced in all the years, on two hands. And he… he could never, he could never get to the level of the other musicians here. They’re all top professionals and they’re—they love what they do. We love music. We listen to music all the time.
He never—like as music, he was older, right, but as music and as time progressed music was changing and he never paid any attention to those changes in music and he wasn’t interested in them. And we would always be interested in what’s—how do we stay cutting edge, what’s the latest thing, you know, how are we gonna make our music totally the same level as the best music that’s out there or beyond that. And he never strived to do any of that. He strived to play his Dixieland melodies and live in the past when he was “Ron Savage” having a trumpet contract, recording contract that never actually turned into anything in
Like, he lived a different life than the rest of us, you know. We’re in a… we’re in a religious order, we work. We love to work. Ron… never liked to work and I think that’s part, partly why… why he was complaining because to be successful here, you have to like to work and you have to like what you’re doing and you have to want to help people. And he actually never seemed to be interested in anything besides his personal likes which were, you know, eating and selling used exercise equipment and, you know, shooting the breeze with people and he… he really didn’t like to work. And I think that’s why he liked to complain.
RICK: This is the only place in the world, or one of the few, where as a musician you can… you can create great music and it actually helps someone. Literally materially benefits people, that’s what’s so incredible about it. So we’re passionate about music, but the thing is that it’s the only time in my life when I’ve been able to be passionate about music and it really meant something, it really reached people, it really improved lives for people. That’s like the most unbelievable winning combination that there is.
That didn’t matter to Ron at all. He didn’t care about that. He wasn’t passionate about music and he wasn’t passionate about helping people. And like Denise was saying, he was allergic to work. When you’re… when you’re making music, particularly in a place like this, I mean we designed and built the whole studio with our own hands. We collected all the equipment together. We’ve been tweaking and adjusting and finessing the studio and all of our equipment for decades, to get to where we’re at because we want it to be so perfect and we want our product to be so good.
And that’s all been a labor of love. That’s not work. To all the rest of us that’s just, it’s our love. To Ron it was just a chore, it was a burden. And so he always had a complaint. He had a complaint about how long he had to work. He had to complain about, you know, the fact that he… he was assigned something to write. Whatever it was, I mean the fact of the matter was it’s not about something, Ron just had a complaint, period, from the time he got here until the time he left. That’s just, it’s just a fact and the sad truth of it is, he was not on the same purpose line or the same page as any of the rest of us. He had his own little personal agenda which was, just didn’t fit in here.
DENISE: Yeah, obviously!
ADAM: Well, how that… how that… how… how Ron “escaped” quote, unquote is, he never spoke to me about wanting to leave. How it actually went is one night he’d been working on a score and he came to see me at his usual early time that he went to bed, before anyone else. And he told me, “Hey, Adam, it’s going… going well on the score, I’m gonna wrap it up tomorrow. See you tomorrow.” Really nice, pleasant. Got in his car and that was the last time I’ve seen him. I haven’t seen him since that time, that was four years ago. The next morning everyone was taking care of their laundry and their rooms and so forth, vacuuming and he just drove across, acting like he was going to drive across and took off down the street.
And he never said goodbye, he never said anything. He didn’t say I want to leave. Ron just took off. No one stopped him from taking off but, it was so dishonest. In any band I’ve ever heard of you give notice before you go, you tell someone in any kind of employment, you know, “I’m gonna be leaving here,” so that management has some way of replacing him and sorting things out. But not Ron. He was so low that he just wouldn’t even tell anyone that he was leaving, he just drove off out of here without telling me.
DENISE: And apparently he was planning it for some time. So clearly he was being completely dishonest to all of us.
RICK: For, for quite a period of time I, I did the front of house engineering for the band. I was the mixer. So, over the years I would pull Ron’s mic down and down and down and down because, you know, he wasn’t blending, wasn’t working or he… he would always fluff notes and make these sounds that didn’t work.
So having him pretty much all off was the solution for the best sound. But Ron had, you know, he, a lot of times then he would grab his mic and speak into it, like to make an, say something or complain about something or something like this and it would be off. And then he would, you know, get all incensed about, “My mic’s off, my mic’s off again! You gotta have this mic on for me.” So, this was a constant battle of trying to keep an eye on Ron so when he was going to reach for the mic, you could turn it up really quick so he when he talked. And he would try to trick you because he would just know the mic was going to be off, he always knew somebody was sneaking up behind him with a gun, I mean he… that was his mindset.
DENISE: I mean, he would say in front of the audience, “Now you, mixer back there, make sure my mic is on.”
RICK: Yeah, like in other words, he’d say, “Okay, we are gonna do “Up, Up and Away.” Hey, make sure my mic is on, okay?” like pointing to the guy at the mix board.
ADAM: Ron was un, unfiltered.
DENISE: Yeah, he was completely unfiltered.
RICK: Yeah, “And don’t forget the special reverb on the 2nd verse.”
DENISE: He’s not kidding.
RICK: I’m not kidding. These are actual quotes.
ADAM: When Ron was playing with the band he was unfiltered and crass and it was very difficult. One time we had this terrific singer playing with us and behind her back, when she wasn’t in the room he would refer to her with the “N” word and… and he kept doing it and he kept snickering because he thought it was so funny, he thought it was so funny to himself.
And the other guys, the other musician, the guitarist was like, “Hey man, you know, like, cool it,” and he just kept doing it because making fun of people at someone’s, someone else’s expense and trying to put them down, that’s sort of where he got his kicks. He really, he kind of got a special pleasure out of putting others down in that way. That was with the band members, with the different performers we had and pretty much anyone he was working with.
DENISE: I mean, I’m Jewish and he would call me behind my back, the Jew bitch.
RICK: He also had a thing about anybody that had a disability. Like if someone had muscular dystrophy or they were missing a leg or something like this, I’ve never seen him make fun of somebody like that to their face, but he would always make some kind of comment about it to people he was with, you know, or imitate them, or make comical imitations of them. He had a favorite little gag he used to do, he’d say he had the most brilliant idea in the world for a power plant. You get somebody who has spasmodic muscles, put them in the middle of a room and tie strings to all of their limbs and connect them all to generators, you know, then they could power the house. He would just go into gales of laughter. He thought that was just great. As a joke. That kind of thing was, he got great pleasure out of it.
DENISE: Yeah, like one time we were in Frankfurt, Germany. We were performing at the Frankfurt Book Fair, for a dinner in a hotel, a five-star hotel. And we arrived to the five-star hotel and the first thing that Ron did was sit down at the piano in the room, where there were a bunch of German public, and start singing “Springtime for Hitler in Germany.” Which obviously is from the Mel Brooks movie, The Producers, it’s obviously totally making fun of the whole Nazi regime, the whole Hitler thing, and that to him was just hysterically funny. I mean the band had to literally dive on him and go, “Ron, we’re in Germany. We’re in Frankfurt. Like, NO!” Do you know what I mean? But that was what was funny to him. He used to dress up like Hitler. He loved cork mustaches. Like he would paint a Hitler mustache, if there was a cork around, he’d light it on fire, paint a Hitler mustache on himself, and one time he even dressed up like Hitler.
ADAM: And the thing was, is you tried to straighten Ron out on this, and I’d… many, many times I’d tried to say, “Hey, Ron, this… this isn’t cool, this isn’t now we’re supposed to be.” At which point it would become an instant attack against the person who was trying to get him on the straight and narrow. He didn’t want to be on the straight and narrow.
RICK: Let me give you one example. We went over, in the late ’80s, to do a concert in
But he always had a complaint and he was always absolutely positive it was the other guy. He was being stabbed in the back. That’s Ron.
ADAM: The thing about it is that here we get to use the skills we have either in cinematography, in mixing, in music, in editing, but to do something that will also really help people in their lives, such as with our Drug Education Programs, our Human Rights Programs, all these things help people daily all over the world. And so for me, it’s a real privilege to be able to take my skill in doing music and to be able to truly help people with that. That’s worth a lot more to me than simply entertaining people. It has a little bit of a higher purpose and that’s… that’s why I get to do this. But, because Ron didn’t have this purpose and he wasn’t really here on the same terms as the rest of us, it’s not a surprise to me that he didn’t enjoy working here. Because he didn’t really have any desire to help people. He just wanted to make his own way and get by doing whatever he did.
I think it was just a show the entire time. Ron never really had any inclination to do well. He was always going down a dark path. And while some of us had been able to sort of keep him on the straight and narrow, that wasn’t his game. And I think now that he’s not working with us, he’s decided to just let loose on us, let loose on the Church, and even his own flesh and blood which I… I can’t even express how shocked I am. Having personally seen everything that Mr. David Miscavige did for Ron, and this is how Ron repays him? I’ve never heard anything like this.
DENISE: It’s disgusting.