Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 36, Number 10. 23rd May 1973
Whatever Happened to Barry McGuire?
Whatever Happened to Barry McGuire?
Barry McGuire, formerly a spokesman for the politically awakening youth of the sixties, is now a spokesman for Jesus. He was recently on campus with an evangelist hot from 'saving' radicals for Christ in Berkeley, California. Roger Steele interviewed Barry McGuire for Salient. The interview starts with Barry talking about his road to Salvation.
McGuire: I've been up and down, I've been hitch-hiking down the road broke then two weeks later with a pocket full of hundred dollar bills in a limousine and then there months later broke, hitch-hiking down the road again. I've sang all over the world for presidents and people from the gutters and I've found that everybody I've ever met has something in common and its a refusal to accept responsibility for their brothers, you know, like we really are our brother's keeper. I really think that, you know, and that's what Jesus said. And I never really knew what Jesus said, all I've ever known is what I'd heard the Church say, and we'd just laugh our heads off at them man, and we'd cry too because they were saying the the words and I didn't see the reality of it in their lives. Like Christ said to sell everything you have and give it to the poor and in America man I'd see that wasn't a reality in the American Christian society, and I knew that was what had to happen if there was ever going to be a balance in the world and it really had to start with every individual person choosing in their heart, not because it was law.
When I found Christ that was what he really said. You see it really puts people in a position to get ripped off by society because a true disciple of Christ would never fight back. If somebody asked him for a buck he'd give them a buck, if somebody asked him for a shirt he'd give them a shirt and his coat too. Jesus said never to return evil with evil but to forgive those who trespass against you. That's all I've ever heard on American radio is that we've got to kill the communists but that's not what Jesus said, he said we've got to pray for them. To pray for everybody — people who you feel are mistreating you, or people who you feel are not what they could be with God.
Salient: Do you think that prayer helped stop the war in Vietnam?
The war's not stopped in Vietnam.
Do you think prayer helped stop the bombing, the B.52 bombing?
Ooh, I don't know.
What about political protest? Do you think that has any effect on Government policy?
No, no. You see man, I think that the Government will do what it wants to do no matter what the people say.
You've got no faith in the Government?
No, only God's Government.
Didn't it say somewhere in the Bible that we ought to have faith in the Government?
Yeah, when they're morally responsible. But if you were in Germany in 1937 you couldn't very well have had faith in the leaders of the land.
Do you think there is any similarity between Germany in the 30's and America in the 70's?
I sure do, I think America, man, is ah well, I think America is going to fall under the wrath of God. I think America is probably going to be hydrogen bombed off the face of the world.
Probably in the next fifteen years, at the most. Maybe eight to 10. See it has been prophesied in the Bible, but Americans don't like to admit it. There's a thing in the Revelations, eighteenth chapter where it talks about this great nation in the last days just before Christ comes back, and its says that all the nations of the world will be drunk of the immorality and the fornication and will have become rich by selling goods to this great nation, and will have committed adultery, spiritual adultery with this great nation. Within one hour this great nation could be totally burned up. There's a whole bunch of conditions in this particular prophesy, and the United States is the only nation that meets all those conditions.
Yet the main message that came across from Mario Murillo, the evangelist travelling with you, was that people shouldn't rebel, that people shouldn't be radical and shouldn't look for new ideologies.
Well, I think that Mario, because of his involvement with violence, in the city he lives in, Berkeley, was on that end of his head, that's where he was at, he was talking about violent radicals, or violent revolution. There is a revolution going on right now. It's very radical, it's giving everything you've got to God. Choosing to do what's best because its right, not because it feels good or because there's going to be any personal gain or glory. I really think that's the most radical you can get.
How about non-violent political protest, what do you think of that? Do you agree with Mario's position on violent protest?
Well, I can't go along with violent protest. I think that violence, man, is the thing that is wrong. You can't overcome violence with violence. That's what's far out, because a good man, a man of love, will never hurt a man of violence. But a man of violence would think nothing of killing a man of love. I used to say 'love' and I used to say all the humanitarian words, but when it came right down to it man, I was just out looking to get laid and to make a couple of bucks and to get stoned, you know.
Before we go any further, for the benefit of our readers who may not be familiar with your background, when did you start singing in public?
I guess it was 1960. I didn't start singing until I was 25.
What did you do before that?
Ah, I was a construction worker. I was a pipe-fitter. I've worked at everything. Before that I was a commercial fisherman for three years.
Did you go through college at all?
No, I quit school at the tenth grade, yeah I just didn't figure I needed to learn all that stuff I was learning so I didn't pass.
You recorded you most famous song. "Eve of Destruction" about 1965, is that right?
Yeah summer of 65.
What made you sing that song?
I guess I felt that it was the truth, you know I heard something when I was a little kid and I didn't even know it was from the Bible — it said you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free. I didn't know what the truth was, man. I didn't know what being free was. But I knew that if anything was going to set me free it was going to be the truth. So I figured the only way to find the truth was to tell the truth as I knew it even if I was totally off base man. Maybe if everybody started telling the truth we'd find out what the truth was. When I heard this guy Phil Sloane wrote this song, and when I heard the song man, I knew that was the truth. That was the most relevant piece of truth I'd ever heard.
But it didn't have any answers, it just asked questions.
Yeah, yeah, I didn't know the answers then.
How long did it take for you to find the answer?
Aah, well.....see, I sang it in '65, well, um, six years.
Was that when you were 'saved'?
That's when I found out who Jesus himself really is, not who the Church said he is. You see man, in the name of truth, they've been ripping people off for thousands of years. Because the truth puts a person in a vulnerable position, see its like love never answers back, love is never proud, love never ceases, love is always humble and meek. Well a humble meek person man is really in a position to get ripped off by the exploiters, and so people have used Christianity to exploit other nations for hundreds of years. That doesn't nullify the truth within it, the truth is that until we can find peace within ourselves and get rid of the greedy, immoral, lustful desires within ourselves well there's never going to be peace in the world.
What sort of greedy, immoral, lustful desires are you speaking of in particular? Evangelists talk about how selfish people are but they don't narrow it down very much.
There are things that have been ordained by God, such as the family unit. Well because of the sexual immorality and promiscuity that goes on, especially in the United States, the family unit is falling apart, and so kids are growing up in the United States with no foundation of unity, in total loneliness, in total not-belonging. That's the reason so many people are going into the occult, that's why so many people are going in different directions because there's no foundation of belonging, there is no example of love.
People are just totally victims of their own animalistic traits. Like we are living in these animalistic bodies and we have these basic drives, to procreate, the sexual drive, self-defence, our food drives and those are necessities. God has given us guidelines to instinct — the use of these drives, and what's happening is that men are turning these guidelines away and overindulging in everything — in food and power and violence, when self defence becomes violent aggression, and the sexual procreation becomes total sexual immorality. With food people become very obese, they are gorging on drugs and food and you know the sexual thing. The end of all these things is suicide. Five of my friends in the last two years have committed suicide. Because of absolute abandonment of the rules and totally drawing themselves to the pleasure that life has to give, which is really tragic, but that's the end result that the world has to offer.
Just say that Utopia is reached in the world, say that science solves all of the problems, say Government works it all out for every man — every man has a house, is fed and clothes, every man has hospitals, schools, cars; the dream come true. Then what are men going to do without the guide lines that God has given them to rule their lives? There is no longer a challenge. Because of the over abundance of material things they have turned to sexuality because they are bored to tears. That's what happened in Rome, thats what happened in Greece, that's what is happening in America right now. And if the world became a Utopia that's what would happen to the whole world.
Can you see that happening in N.Z. now?
I see the inroads creeping in, the books of pornography creeping into the minds of the youth here in N.Z. When I got here man I thought this is really like a virgin, you know this, spunky little nation, it is like it has been sheilded from the insanity of the world. The big powers fighting back and forth man and you know its like an infant that is just learning to come of age, and I see the insanity of American promotion, advertising, and American filth creeping in. The occult, Satanism, are just coming in, creeping in around the edges and it would be really incredible if this could be stopped.
You think America is going to be hydrogen bombed off the face of the earth. Is there no salvation for it, even through Jesus?
Aah, it the nation were to repent there would be salvation, yes. Even now, as far out as they have gone now. If the Americans were to repent, and if Nixon were to get right with God, fall on his face and say I'm a dirty rotten sinner man, I'm evil, crooked, selfish, and get right with God and if the whole of the United States were to get right with God. Phew!
Nixon seems to be all right with Billy Graham doesn't he?
I don't know what their relationship is.
Nixon calls himself a quaker, after all.
I think Nixon is a politician and I think he uses titles and uses aquaintances to attract votes. I think Nixon's relationship with Billy Graham is strictly political, to get votes from the Christian Americans. I know because of the fruits of his life, that he is not a bona-fide quaker.
When you pointed out many things that were wrong with the world when you sang "Eve of Destruction", did you ever see capitalism as the main enemy?
No, no. I think that capitalism is the result of selfishness, and I think of communism as just the humanistic attempt to create through legislation the very foundation of what real Christianity is all about. In the New Testament it says that in the early church the Christians were communal. They were communist. They shared everything. If there was a need they sold what they had and fulfilled that need. But they didn't do it because it was the law, they did it because of the love in their hearts.
Do you think that communism will fail just because it involves legislation? Is that the only thing you see wrong with it?
You can make a law and a person will obey that law because if he breaks it he would go to page 9 jail, but in his heart he doesn't love hit brothers, he's giving up his possession because that is the law. Its not a moral choice, a choice of free will. That's what is so beautiful about God, he has given us the freedom of choice. He could have made us like animals, so that when we smelled a girl having her period we would sexually respond to her. He could have locked us into laws man hut he didn't.
What did you do in the years after the "Eve of Destruction" and before you were 'saved'?
After I did the "Eve of Destruction" I did a lot of concerts across the United States and Europe. Then I came back to the U.S. and did some more TV, movies and things like that and then I got into psychedelic drugs. We were all looking for a deeper reality. We only use 7% of our brain, a genius only uses nine or 10 per cent. I was looking for the answer to what was wrong. Someone told me about psychedelics, I thought this might be the key to inner space. But after five years of I don't know how many hundreds of psychedelic trips and different encounter groups and getting into Eastern religions and philosophies and different diets and exercises, yoga, Kundalini, the whole Zen-Buddhist thing we all came to nothing. Then a friend of mine asked me if I would like to play the lead role in "Hair". But it turned out to be just another rip off. Some very rich joes put together this show that was just using the philosophy of the people to rape them with, you know. Because people believed in love to suck the blood out of them.
How long were you in "Hair"?
For about a year. Then I left "Hair" and went back to California and just saw everything totally falling apart. All the money was being spent in the wrong places, we don't have to go to the moon, we've got people starving to death in the world. Why are we going to the moon? We can go to the moon in fifty year but when a baby dies, its gone man. It was just blowing me apart man. I didn't see anything.
When I sang the "Eve" I thought we could get together on a humanistic level, that we could come together as intelligent human beings and say, hey look man, this is wrong, lets get it right.
But ail of a sudden man I found that I was in the very same position, I had become what I'd set out to change. We were in the limousines and the people were paying 10 or 15 bucks to come and hear us sing. We were flying off in a helicopter and they were sleeping in mud, in their sleeping bags. We were smoking $500 a pound grass and they're out there smoking weeds. All of a sudden we're the jet-set of the new culture. There was no difference and so I had to take a pass on all that too.
And then I met some people who really loved Jesus man, who weren't just playing the milk-toast, corn ball, ah, Jesus Social Club trip, which so many people were doing. They really loved God man and were really concerned about people and in their lives I saw a power, a reality, an honesty of giving it all away and saying to God you take care of me and I'm gonna do whatever you want me to do. I saw these people beginning to fill me, and I saw lives change, I saw people set free man from $175 a day heroin habits man, I saw chicks chat were blown-out empty shells come back to a new life. People on the verge of suicide man, who had tried everything there was to try man and nothing worked. They had been set free, and born again. Incredible! When I saw that reality I got hold of the New Testament and read it for myself. I'm 35 years old and I'd never read the Bible I'd just looked at Christians and laughed. I thought man who are they putting on?
Jesus was my answer and he is the life ship. Another thing that I found in the Bible were prophesies concerning this day and age we are living in. In the book of John it says 'at the end of the age just before Jesus is to return' from the cast is gonna come an army of two hundred million troops. When Red China joined the United Nations their ambassador said in his introductory speech that they have an army of 200 hundred million. When John wrote that prophecy man there were hardly 200 million people in the world.
It says that Israel is gonna be scattered over the face of the earth and in the last days the jews from all over the world are going back to Jerusalem to become a nation again. It says that Egypt is gonna go in league with the northern most nation of Europe. That they're gonna become partners and Egypt is gonna go to war with Israel and be totally wiped out. Everybody's gonna lose. Jesus said when you see these things happening know that I'm coming soon. He said I'm telling ya this so that you won't be caught unawares.
The Bible says that for 40 years after the fall of Egypt for 40 years neither man nor animal will be able to walk in the land of Egypt. The whole world is gonna tremble for fear because of what happened for Egypt and its gonna set up an atmosphere for a government to come in so that it won't happen again. Out of that one world government is gonna come a worldwide monetary system where everyone's gonna have to have a number, a magnetic number tatooed and the Bible speaks of a mark of the hand and the forehead. Without it you won't be able to buy or sell anywhere in the world. And out of the world government will come the antichrist whose sole thing would be to destroy the Christians — the real Christians, not the Pope and holy church on Sunday and drive the Cadillac home, the real Christian who have talked about love and say 'man thats the anti-Christ", that's not Jesus.
Its happening right now, I see the walls are breaking down between Russia, China and America and trade routes are opening up. See the Bible says there's gonna be a [unclear: tin of ocace]. It's gonna appear on the surface that man finally worked it out and that we're coming to the golden age of mankind and just when everyone is saying "Peace and Safety", (claps) sudden destruction.
Thats when this dude thats gonna be the world president is gonna get carried away with his own power and he's gonna double cross the world. That's when all the ICBM's will be set off and the United States will be blown off the face of the earth. The Bible says that when China makes her move a third of humanity is going to be destroyed and right at the moment Jesus says if I waited another day there'd be no one left alive to witness my coming and I think that God'll wait till the last instant where everyone's chosen in their heart whether to serve God or Mammon.
What do you think will happen to the people who have chosen God, and to the people who have chosen Mammon?
The Bible says when Christ comes to those who have died with the promise of Jesus in their heart will be ressurected with pure bodies and with pure — I think — pure energy, pure eternal bodies that exist on all dimensions at the same time. The Bible says that anyone that refuses the mark or the numbers is gonna get their head chopped off. Ha ha ha. They're gonna be executed so the ones who remain through their time of persecution are gonna be caught up in the clouds, Christ is gonna sweep the world and then at the end go to Israel with all the redeemed.
Christ is gonna set up his reign on the earth, and for a thousand years men are gonna be forced to live the way communally like, I never thought of this before man, it says that God is gonna rule with a rod of iron and people are gonna be forced to keep the laws of God. They're not gonna be able to commit adultery, they're not gonna be able to steal, they're not gonna be able to do anything that's negative. At the end of that thousand years God will lift his absolute control and man will revolt once again because of the frustration of rebellion thats within him and at that time God's gonna cleanse the earth of all impurity, that those in the final rebellion will be totally purified. And then I think we're gonna take our place in the galaxies and in the peoples that are scattered throughout the Universe. The question of selfishness versus submission to God will be solved.
Do you think any of this has any meaning or hope for people who are suffering in the world from repression and starvation?
Phew! (Pause). It really, (pause), yeah, (pause) almost (pause) almost naught for the millions of people that are starving right now because of the greed of man. On a personal level, I have a commitment with God where half of what I make goes towards two orphanages in Mexico. If I start making more bread and I can give more then I'll pray about it and ask God where he wants me to send that. But there's only so much that you can do as individuals because to relieve all the suffering in this world would take billions and billions of dollars. I mean it could be done.
There's a very clear example in Vietnam, at the moment, where Thieu's regime is holding up to a quarter of a million people in prison....
Incredible. I know.
....and a simple political revolution could liberate all those people. What do you think of that situation?
I think that a political revolution would just take one monster out of power and put another in. They would release these guys and they would lock up the other guys. I don't think its answerable in politics.
Do you think thats what happened in the Chinese revolution, that one monster went out and one monster went in? Do you think Chairman Mao is motivated by selfishness and greed?
Yeah, Yeah, I read his biography and I know how he came up through the self discipline that he had to get where he was. What I see in films about life in China, in-depth studies, is a nation that is in balance materially, but there's something missing from the personality of the people, and its the ease and the graciousness that the Chinese once had. Now they mistrust and suspect and very rightfully so, the white people. Because man, when I read how the white people smuggled opium into China in the first place it blew me away. Whew!
There's nothing more evil on the face of the earth than the white .... what do you call them, the dudes that take advantage of you, you know, wherever they are, and, uh, they're just rapists. I think that China has reacted in self defence against this invasion of the white monster that's out to suck up all the money and rape the world. But its just like women's lib. I see women's liberation as reaction against the male playboy who just uses them as a hunk of meat for sexual masturbation and when you're through....(claps). Well what else does a girl have, what other course does she have other than to come against it, you know. But the real answer is not in separation, the real answer is in giving, even if it means giving your life. I would rather die at the hands of a murderer than become a murderer in defending myself. I would rather give my life than take a life. I really feel that in my heart man, maybe when the time comes I'd have second thoughts. Its easy to say sitting here. But I really feel man, that the answer is not in.....power, its in non-power, or whatever the opposite to power is.
Were you at any stage of your life involved in any political organization?
No never once. I could never find a political organization that wasn't corrupt, in which the leader wasn't living off the cream and the followers were out working in the mud.
How about religious organizations?
Same thing. Same thing.
So you are not affiliated to any church group?
No. I'm not. I'm just a christian. I found in Christ the answer that I looked for for so long. In my own life I find that I have a reason for living now but I never had one before. I have found a forgiveness of my own selfish past.... of all the chicks I'd ripped off, all the guys I'd lied to.
How do you relate to other musicians? Presumably you had fairly close contacts when you were basically a stage performer with a lot of the other groups. But most of them these days seem to be nihilistic, even atheistic.
What do you think of the Rolling Stones, for instance, who sometimes personify the antichrist?
Yeah. I think Mick Jagger's sold out to Demonic forces. I think he's controlled by darkness, because of his music and his life Style. I know a lot of people that I've made music with that are into the occult and are into mystic powers which are of darkness. The whole bible warns us against getting into any type of supernatural, mystical, seances and things like that. Because we don't have the spiritual knowledge to control that kind of power. I mean there it a supernatural world, man, and there is psychic power to be controlled. But God says not to fool with that stuff. But so many of my friends are really involved in it man. You know, like I was just talking with Dave Crosby on the phone the other day man, and he's really wrapped in it, him and Neil Young and those dudes, man, are really into the mystic phenomena and into the drug, mystery, sexual, witchcraft scene. I think they're controlled by demonic forces but they don't know it yet, they're being used by the powers of darkness.
Do you think perhaps Jagger's one of the worst examples of this?
Because of his popularity? You know I don't think he's the worst. He's probably the most notorious because as a musician he's so incredibly good. That puts him in a position to demonstrate his religious and spiritual beliefs.
Do you still feet that the questions you asked in "Eve of Destruction" are relevant?
Yeah. I think the song is probably more relevant today than it was then.
Do you think you've now found the answer?
I sure do, yeah.
Even if salvation did become widespread, even if people did start being saved all over the world, do you still think this holocaust is inevitable?
Yeah, the only way it could be prevented is if the whole world were to be converted. But as long as there's Mafia Killers who kill for the highest price, and as long as there's senators and congressmen who, if they thought the US was going to lose would push the button that would blow the whole world up, its inevitable. They would destroy the world to save it from communism.
Do you really think there is such a button?
Yeah. Oh, yeah.