Ted Cruz’s Lost Years In A Christian Metal Band… Revealed!
A heartbreaking work of staggering Candidate Fiction
Ted Cruz was the driving creative force behind ‘80s Christian Metal juggernaut Stryper. The evidence is undeniable. For those who don’t know, Stryper was the complete package: they had the face, the hair, the tunes, the positive but not preachy Christian lyrics, and for a time, a guy who looked almost exactly like the Cruz (because he was Ted Cruz). What’s less known is how the now Republican presidential candidate’s falling out with the band left a Book of Matthew-sized hole in the heart of Christian metal. A hole that hasn’t been filled since.
But just what happened to the man credited in an early demo as “Teddy Tiger – Deliverer of the Sermons on Mount Solo (and bass overdubs, tracks 1, 3, and 5)”? How did Ted Cruz’s time in Stryper affect his outlook, his faith, and his readiness for the highest office in the land? How did the Christ praising wild man become the Christ praising family man more obsessed with The Princess Bride, than The World of You and I.
Vocativ gained exclusive access to the Stryper archives in La Habra, California, and unearthed a variety of journals, recording session notes, and stage plans from the band’s heyday. They show a young man gaining a firmer grasp on faith, friendship and politics, while letting loose on his beloved Gibson Flying V guitar, “Maria.”
March 16, 1984, Diary entry.
Lord, today you have bestowed upon me a truly wondrous experience: a true fellowship of Christian men dedicated in word, deed, and rock to Your Good News. Finally, a group with which to fight the mesmerizing Un-American sodomancy [sic] of the Brothers Van Halen. Praise! These men, lord–their hair is wonderful, and lustrous as the mane of Judah’s lion. I could smell their hair, Lord, every gossamer thread! And as I breathed deeply of their coiffeture, I felt my soul receding from my extremities and aching to reach out of myself, and up to You in heaven. It was a sign, I am sure of it! Maria and I performed admirably, avoiding the lustful pull of blues scales and their bending shame notes as best we could. And then they offered me a place in the band! No prayers, no anointment, nothing, I was just…in, a part of a team for the first time in my young life. I have no problem with the directive that I am never to speak on stage, lest I sully a suspiciously Pagan sounding force known as “the vibe.” I will respect obedience as a superior virtue. Truly Lord, I am Over The Moon!
July 12, 1984, during Stryper’s “Smiles from Isaiah” tour
Thank you Lord! We rocked El Paso and Tempe these last few days, and these two wondrous, uniquely American cities were moved by your spirit, despite Bruce’s lax approach to the bridge section of “You Won’t be Lonely.” I am becoming accustomed to driving while the boys sleep in the back of the van. What a way to see God’s country!
July 16, 1984 during Stryper’s “Smiles from Isaiah” tour
Lord, tonight, I cannot be sure if I am truly in Scottsdale, Arizona, or the wilderness where Jesus Christ himself was tempted! Per usual, the show was followed with a brief circle of thanks, then Mike skulked off for what he said was a “moment for myself,” in direct contravention of the nature of our fellowship, and the very concept of band-hood. I noted this to him tersely, inspired by the resolve of Reagan confronting Comrade Gorbachev. Mere minutes later, I discover Mike’s “moment” to himself involves a Lite flavored alcoholic beverage, a marbleboro (unlit), and a conversation with an unaccompanied woman. I questioned her biblical knowledge and after a few quick slip-ups I had her scram. Mike was, shall we say….displeased, but I will not be fazed. TEDDY TIGER’S STRYPER WILL BE CHASTE, OR IT WILL NOT BE…AT ALL!
January 7. 1985, Cruz’s notes to the studio engineer during the recording of Stryper’s debut album “Soldiers Under Command”:
-My guitar is too low
-Bruce’s bass tends to wander like one of Moses’ Hebrews in the desert, turn it down? Look to market for solutions?
-My guitar is wayyy too low
-Mike’s playing on the A-Side needs to be less John 3:16 and more Romans 8:28
-“The Rock that Makes Me Roll” is almost perfect, but could use an extra guitar track and some overdubs from me
-Can all vocals be turned down?
-Steve is a great drummer but as our “rhythm wife” he is not dutiful enough to tone down the fills during my solos. Frustrating. Turn him down?
March 8, 1986. Diary entry.
Lord, I am troubled, and have been for some time. I have scoured your words, and prayed over them. Mother is worried. Time and again I think, why? Why this color scheme of black and yellow? I cannot make heads or tails of how we honor You with these outfits in the style of stinging insects. Where in your words do you praise the bumblebee, or kiss the wasp? Lord you do not. In a spirit of Christian fellowship I brought this up to Mike. He said I should not be taking everything so seriously, to “lighten up.” With necessary gravity, I told him what a pastor once told me: there are no chuckles on the road to salvation, only obstacles.
October 2, 1987. Diary entry during “To hell with the devil tour.”
Lord, is it this fine leather vest which chafes, or the strictures of this Christly band? I cannot sleep. These power ballads are truly dispiriting. While I stand on the stage in Norman or Tallahassee, plinking away at a keyboard, I see Maria on her stand in the stage’s shadow, a rose, wasting away. What is love Lord? I am alone.
October 8, 1987. Diary entry during “To hell with the devil tour.”
Piped up at show last night to suggest the Road to Serfdom to a particularly communist seeming crowd in New Jersey. Bruce and Mike were apoplectic. Said I sounded like all the elves of Gomorrah had settled in my nasal cavity to copulate. Uncalled for. Still alone. Still can’t sleep.
October 10, 1987. Diary entry during “To hell with the devil tour.”
You have lifted me up Lord! Again! On a free day near Toledo I walked on my lonesome, after weeks without sleep, I found myself at a theater, and I saw the most wondrous film, The Princess Bride. Rarely if ever has the fruit of secular culture’s tree nourished me so greatly, with its sweet sweet juice.
Undated, Fall, 1987. Cruz’s directions to stage managers during “To hell with the devil tour.”
October 16, 1987 “To hell with the devil” tour.
No one speaks to me. Still have not slept. Every spare minute I have is spent at a theater. I believe Westley, Inigo Montoya, and the Jewish sorcerer played by Billie Crystal are speaking to me (but not the Princess Bride herself since she is a woman). Even better, I’ve come to believe that you are speaking to me through them! The message is clear: I must go solo.
October 19, 1987 Final night “To hell with the devil tour.”
(From a Greyhound on the way to Princeton)
Lord, this show began as any other, in the green room as we prepared our spirits and our hair. But tonight I told the boys I had a statement to make. Bruce and Mike didn’t even look at me. They just sprayed and teased, sprayed and teased. Steve even blew a big bubble with his pink gum, and thumbed through Ephesians without looking up. I explained I was going solo, and that continuing on in the band was inconceivable. No one said a word. Yes, it would take a miracle, I continued. But being in this band had made me mostly dead. I told them they say the words “Christian Metal” but that I do not think they know what it means. I grabbed Maria –my Buttercup– and I swear to never look back. Ted Cruz is his own band now.