Interview With Marty Angelo
Secondly Magazine - Tim Utekal
Marty Angelo has a truly remarkable story. Heavily influenced by his
liberal professors in college, Marty was on his way up in the music
industry in the 1970s. All seemed well on the outside, but on the
inside, he felt empty.
Everything culminated until one day when he was arrested for cocaine
possession. While in prison, Angelo decided to finally listen to his
sister, Joanne who kept nagging him to learn about a man named Jesus.
Recently, Secondly Magazine got in touch with Marty Angelo. You can read
the full interview here!
Secondly Magazine: Where did you go to college? How did that shape
you as a person, and your worldview?
Marty Angelo: I first started out my higher education at three
different universities in upstate New York and finally landed at the
University of Buffalo. I was a very naďve though somewhat rebellious
teenager entering college and was immediately exposed to very radical
liberal left-wing professors. I really didn’t know exactly what the
definition of each word was, especially coming from a conservative Roman
My professors did everything to influence me and other students with
their anti-war Vietnam War rhetoric, even passing out protest signs,
marijuana cigarettes and demanded that, as a required part of their
curriculum, I attend anti-war rallies they set up around the campus. I
was trapped hook, line and sinker into becoming a very extreme outspoken
member of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) helping to
organize rallies, booking radical bands like the Grateful Dead and the
Jefferson Airplane and others to perform prior to members of the
anti-war group the Chicago Seven and SDS leaders Jerry Rubin, Jerry
Hoffman, Tom Hayden Bobby Seale, and others gave highly spirited and
controversial, riotous causing speeches.
It got so bad on other campuses because of this type of behavior that
four Kent State University college students were shot and killed by the
United States National Guard.
My worldview was interlaced with the mind-altering drug LSD’s creator
and promoter Dr. Timothy Leary’s advice to all of us: “Turn on, Tune
in, and Drop- Out.” I believed him and followed what my college
professors taught and didn’t question them for one second.
SM: What happened after college? How did you get involved in
the music industry?
MA: When my college days ended and the Russians hadn’t actually
blown us all off the face of the earth as my professors predicted, I
went into the music business.
It wasn’t a stretch for me seeing the contacts I made booking bands on
campus came in handy. I was inspired by our so-called underground
movement and learned I could make a good living in the entertainment
business as a rock band manager and later as a producer, concert
promoter, music promoter, nightclub owner, dance television producer,
disc jockey, and record reviewer.
While playing piano in a local rock band we opened a concert show for a
highly talented blues/jazz band called Raven. They were without a
manager and asked me to help them achieve success outside of Buffalo,
NY. I took many trips back and forth to New York City and ultimately met
with guitar legend Jimi Hendrix, who helped my band get a booking
engagement at Steve Paul’s Scene, which led to numerous offers from
record companies, including the Beatles Apple Record.
The group finally signed a five-year contract with Columbia Records. I
continued working in the music business for a total of 15 years.
SM: Did you feel fulfilled in your work? Would you consider your
career successful at this point?
MA: My life in the music business was a total wreck. I always felt
like I was on the outside looking in, even though by the world’s eyes
I had it made. I was empty, confused and without any purpose. Nothing
ever mattered to me. I had no foundation other than more sex, drugs and
living a rock music lifestyle.
There was such a void in my heart you could have fit a jumbo jetliner
through it and it still wouldn’t fill it. I thought I was successful
but my inner-self told me I was a loser and should just kill myself,
which I tried three times, only to be saved at the last minute. I knew
there was something wrong with me but just couldn’t find out what it
SM: What led you down the path of addiction? What events led
up to your arrest for cocaine possession?
MA: My first encounter with drugs was smoking cigarettes when I was
six years old. My parents were heavy smokers and it was totally
acceptable back then. No one taught that it was dangerous and could
eventually kill you quite the opposite. In high school, I started
drinking beer, wine and finally hard liquor.
It wasn’t until I got to college did I started trying other drugs such
as pot, LSD, pills of all sorts, and cough medicine. This abuse
continued throughout my work in the music business which became 100
times worse than I ever thought possible. Just about everyone I met was
a drug user – especially cocaine and eventually heroin.
Back in the mid-70s Miami Florida was known to have the best cocaine in
the world. I had some friends who lived there and they always had a lot
of the illegal drug. I traveled to Florida in 1980 to visit my parents
who had retired to Fort Lauderdale and while there I stopped by my
friend’s house and bought some cocaine to take back to California with
Unbeknownst to me, my friends were under investigation by the federal
Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) for the previous four months, so I walked
right into a trap and was arrested right along with them.
I was facing decades in prison for what the government said was my
involvement in various conspiracies but I later came to an agreement
with the court and pled guilty and agreed to serve six years in prison
along with a special 3-year special parole period.
SM: What, or who led you to Christ? What was the turning point?
MA: The turning point in my life was my serious Miami Florida drug
arrest. I was totally powerless. I actually was very thankful I got
stopped in my tracks. Of course, I never wanted to go to prison, but I
realized in the Dade County Jail cell that my life outside of that cold,
dark, place was in a worse prison. I had some time to reflect on how out
of control I was living and might now have a chance to try to turn it
My sister Joanne had become a Christian a couple of years before I was
arrested and she kept reaching out to me, telling me about Jesus Christ
and how He could change me and help save my life. I got quite angry with
her because she wouldn’t quit.
Every time I went to my mailbox there was some sort of Bible outreach
tract, testimony book or letter filled with Bible scriptures.
After my arrest, I finally started to listen to Joanne and went to visit
her in Colden New York. She called some of her prayer group friends and
she drove me over to visit with them. They were ministers and explained
the gospel to me in a manner I could understand it. They were all very
loving people who told me God had a plan for my life and asked if I
would like to be born-again. I gladly accepted. My whole life was turned
around that night, April 24, 1981.
SM: How did the conversion to Christianity impact your worldview?
MA: My life took a 180 degrees turnaround. I never thought in a
million years that I would become a Christian. It was something I never
planned on. It just happened at a time in my life that God knew I needed
His help.. If not, I surely would have overdosed and died in my
One of the things I learned very quickly was instead of calling my
actions, “Doing my own thing” what it really was called was a sin. I
never looked at myself as being a sinner.
We certainly didn’t talk about that in college or amongst my music
business contacts. It seemed that the concept of sin had been driven
right out of my life over the years, so when I learned from my sister
and her friends that it was sin that was bogging me down, and was my
main problem, I jumped at the chance to repent and ask God to forgive me
and clean me up.
What really happened was Jesus Christ actually did come INTO my life and
started to change me from the inside out. I eventually went from a
left-wing, radical, liberal Democrat to an on-fire Christian
conservative. I finally learned the difference between the two
lifestyles by experiencing just Who is able to bring about that change.
What I used to love I now hate and what I use to hate I now love. Only
the living God of creation can do that to someone.
SM: How did going to prison move you to start your prison ministry?
MA: While I served my time in prison I saw myself in each inmate I
met. There were a lot of drug users in prison and being there didn’t
stop their use. They found all sorts of ways to smuggle in the
contraband and if I had not been a Christian before I came there I know
I would have been one of the users myself.
I had a new-found compassion for those around me. I tried very hard to
explain what happened to me seven months before I started to serve my
time could easily happen to them if they would open their hearts and
minds to Jesus Christ. I got involved with a prison ministry group that
Chuck Colson, former White House advisor to President Nixon started
entitled, Prison Fellowship Ministries.
We formed a bible study through this organization and also attended
numerous in-prison weekend seminars that helped disciple us into solid
Christians. I graduated from four Bible colleges while during my time
and used the knowledge I gained to help others.
Life was good. In fact, I always stated to my friends that “this is
the happiest I’ve been in my life.” If I could be this happy in
prison through faith and trust in Jesus Christ then getting out and
serving God on the outside should be even more enriching.
SM: Tell us about your ministry.
MA: My ministry has been an exciting 35+ years. I never thought for
a minute that I would be doing such a work of God. I’ve traveled
extensively throughout our country’s prison systems, visiting jails,
work release programs and county, state and federal prisons spreading
the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I’ve written 10 books so far and make all
of those available to inmates and their families. I donated over 60,000
books so far and have received hundreds of heart-wrenching letters from
inmates who have been touched by my story.
God opened doors for me to help design in-prison drug treatment programs
and also establish faith-based programs within secular programs as well.
I’ve also reached out to troubled Hollywood celebrities making court
appearances and referrals to faith-based treatment programs.
I was once asked why I never went back into the music business when I
was released from prison and I share this story with them: Once I was
released from prison God opened a door for me to work at Faith Farm
Ministries in Ft. Lauderdale FL. I was thankful to be a part of a
ministry who helped drug addicts and alcoholics. I was working selling
used appliances at the Farm’s outdoor sales area.
I was shining up the machines so they looked good to our customers. All
of a sudden out of nowhere came a long black stretch Lincoln limousine
that pulled right up to where I was working. Before I knew it the
limo’s darkened back door window came down and through it, I could see
the backseat area was filled with smoke and the outlines of a few men.
It looked like a scene out of a horror movie. The door then opened and
out popped Rob Grill, leader of the Grass Roots, the rock band I had
managed years ago. “Angelo!” He yelled. “How are you?” He threw
his arms around me and gave me a big hug.
“Man it is good to see you, Marty.” Grill explained that he and the
band were in town to perform at a Seafood Festival on the Ft. Lauderdale
beach and he had heard from one of the promoters that I was out of
prison living at Faith Farm.
Rob wanted to see me so he jumped in the limo and came right over.
“What are you doing here?” He asked. “This is no place for you.
You belong here with me and the band. You were the best manager we ever
had and even saved our lives a couple of times. You need to snap out of
this Faith Farm daze you are in and get in this car and come back to
Hollywood with us.” I explained to Rob Grill that I was truly honored
that he would want me to work with him again but I felt this was where
God wanted me to be. “In fact Rob,” I said as serious as I could.
“I wouldn’t get in the back of that limo if you offered me a million
dollars in cash right now.”
Grill stood there for a moment and said, “Hello Marty… Wake up. You
are selling appliances in a place that looks like a junkyard. And, and,
and… the appliances are not even NEW! WHEW! Snap out it, Marty!”
SM: How do you hope God will use your story to advance His kingdom?
MA: I’ve witnessed how God has used my life as an example to
others who once they place their faith and trust in Jesus Christ as Lord
and Savior that anything is possible. Just the letters I’ve received
from inmates who have read my book, “Once Life Matters: A New
Beginning” makes it all worth it.
Besides the thousands of lives changed in prisons and in the treatment
programs I worked in or helped start makes what God has done in and
through my life all worth everything He brought me through to get me to
SM: What makes you passionate about sharing the gospel?
MA: I know God is not done with any of us and each day is always
thrilling to wake up to find out what He has planned. There has never
been a dull moment, that is for sure and I am so thankful for His grace,
mercy, and love. However, I have also learned very early on in my walk
with Christ that God is a JUST God meaning that there are consequences
to an out of control sinful action.
Yes, He is there to forgive but I learned to think first before
acting… and not the other way around. Life will always present
situations that need God’s guidance and with Him living within me, I
am able to walk the straight and narrow path to living a righteous life.
SM: What does the name Jesus mean to you?
MA: Jesus means Life and life more abundantly… the peace that
passes all understanding. Knowledge, Wisdom, Patience, Love,
Faithfulness, Truth, Joy, Kindness, Goodness, Gentleness, Self-Control,
Prince of Peace, Lord of Lords, King of Kings, the Everlasting Father,
Spirit of God, Spirit of Christ, the Holy Ghost, God our Savior, God in
you, the Beginning and the End, the Great High Priest, Great Shepherd,
He died for all, He dwells in us, He gives rest, He is the first-born of
the dead, He is the head of the body, He shall baptize you with the Holy
Ghost, and with fire, He shows mercy, The Holy One of Israel, the Great
I AM, and so much more.
Please see my upcoming book entitled, “Names, Titles, and
Manifestations of God: all that He has done and continues to do for all
mankind.” It is jammed packed with every possible way of explaining
what Jesus means to all of us.
What I used to love I now hate and what I use to hate I now love.
Only the living God of creation can do that to someone.