Ep 83 – Interview with Santos
Hi there tom Harris with. It’s all greek to me. However today it’s gonna be south Bronx do op? It’s gonna be Gospel, do op and we’re here with walter santos. We just know him as santos And this is a german guy who grew up in a, I think a chinese black Puerto Rican neighborhood, whatever they were all there. And so we’re gonna hear a phenomenal story. I love this man. He’s traveled with me to uh Angola prison several times. We’re gonna go back again. Hopefully I’m gonna be able to take him to Greece and other places. He’s one of my favorite favorite people singers. And so I want to just introduce you a little bit to walter santos or santos and uh let you know that at the age of 19 he played Carnegie hall. Now he’s, I’ve got a list of stuff that he’s been involved in. He can tell you about it. But I mean I’m reading charlie Daniels, Moby grape marshall tucker band the outlaws and it goes on. So I’m gonna just turn you loose to talk about your favorite stuff do op. And how did you get going? And and Dion, we’ll talk about Dion DiMucci who had 24 number one hits, but that he’s your uh brother in law and you, you traveled with him for about five years. I understand. Yeah, he was my brother in law, part of the story, that’s part of the story. So why don’t you pick up the story, You you can talk better than I can tell the story. So here he is santos. Hey, everybody got, it’s good to be here. Excuse the raspy throat. I’m dealing with a little hoarseness, but that’s okay. We keep moving because we are from new york, new york, new york. So nice. They named it twice. That’s it. They named it twice. That’s why it’s on my logo on the screen there. You see it because we grew up on the streets and God got ahold of us. You know, he gets ahold of us. Anyway, he can, you know, whether you’re up and out or down and out blind, crippled or crazy. God will grab you and when he grabs you boy, he changes and he flips the house. But I grew up on the streets. I was adopted at nine days old. I went from Ludwig, that was my birth name. Like the drum company, Ludwig like Ludwig drums and nine days I had that name. And then little, a little guy from brazil south America named walter santos had a restaurant in upstate new york right next to sing, sing prison and he adopted me and I grew up with santos and he was married to a little italian lady there Got divorced. So I bounced around like a soccer ball between my father and mother. I always wanted to be with my dad because a boy wants to be with his dad. That’s the way it is. And so I started out bouncing all over by the time I was 13 I started playing all kinds of percussion instruments in my neighborhood, primarily hand drums because I hung around the Latinos and especially the Puerto Ricans and the Cubans and they were into salsa and all the music of new york city. It was a fiery, just, oh man, you hear this music, you just gotta dance. And so I started playing percussion, started on tabletops, banging and before you know it I was playing and and my first I started with a couple of neighborhood funk bands and you know, R and B, Motown stuff. And then I got a job with a jazz group, a guy named charlie erlin. He was really popular in the jazz circles. He was known as the mighty burner and we got a job and our first job was at Carnegie Hall in new york city, you gotta explain this to me, How do you get a job? That’s impossible. Usually worked years to get to Carnegie hall. But I started out at Carnegie Hall only God could do something like that. But you know, I was a knucklehead back then I was doing a little bit of this marijuana, a little bit of alcohol, but I didn’t like that stuff, but somebody introduced me to some heroin one time and I took a snort up my nose and the minute that hit my system I said that’s it, that’s what I’m looking for. It just makes you forget your problems, everything becomes utopia. And that’s how today I understand because I have knowledge of the scriptures, how the enemy uh, masquerades himself as an angel of light and he gets everybody to want to go into that atmosphere. You know, where everything is good, It looks good for a minute. And then uh, Paycheck comes like you go to an expensive restaurant and the way that comes and goes, here’s your bill. And when you read your bill, yeah, the worst restaurants, you don’t even know what what the prices are. They don’t give you the prices, you just here have this, have this and then you get the price and then you get the price and forget about it. So there I was, you know, and I started using more and more and then somebody says, if you inject it into your, your artery, not your artery, your vein, uh you’ll really get fireworks in your head. And that’s exactly what happened, man. I hit that stuff and bam I was addicted 24 77 days a week. That’s what I lived for for that feeling. And that took me down the road. But you know, in the music business continued and I had to hustle up the money to do this stuff. And before, you know, when I was on tour with a major rock band out of our CIA Records, I signed with a band called Fandango out of New Jersey. And we went on the road with charlie Daniels judas Priest marshall tucker all the big bands in the 19 seventies. And we played every venue from stadiums to clubs, to commercials and the the habit got worse and worse. And then I went on a drug that was put out here by the government, the government called methadone. They said if you take this drug it’ll cure your addiction. Yeah, right. The only thing that was get you addicted to their drug. And so I said, well it was it was it was pharmaceutical, so it was pure and I was drinking this stuff every day. And boy, I tell you what, they built me up to 100 mg. And the minute you don’t have that, you get sick. I mean sick and here I am touring on tour busses with major R and B and rock bands and sick as a dog. One minute I’m up here, the next minute I’m down below. It’s it’s like a yo yo effect. So you’re making money but it’s all going to feed the monster. Yeah, it’s going to feed that feeling that that that that the enemy tells you you need to live and exist. And uh you know that yo yo is one day you’re up here and the next minute get down in the basement, those mood swings, you can’t handle that. You know with God. Today I haven’t, this is my life today, I have minor mood swings and they’re all manageable through prayer and reading scripture and my relationship with God. But back then I had nothing to go by. I just went way up here and then I had to get more drugs to to get leveled out. And it was insanity. Now how long did this last for? Well so santos, you started 19 by the time you got into heroin you were into, I was in my mid thirties and then I I started doing that. And then sooner or later you get caught, you dig. I mean you just you get caught. I mean you lie, your scheme, you get over and then before you know it you’re stealing. I used to go with a friend of mine named Junie up here in Westchester County. We go into a supermarket, not me, but Junie would with a raincoat and come out with pot roast roast beef turkeys under his coat. I mean here we come out and then we go around the back doors of restaurants and sell them to meet and then get the money and go buy drugs right down the street from this building where we’re in right now. I would live down there and then sometimes you give somebody your money and they’d say wait here, we’ll be right back and three hours later you’re waiting there going, I don’t think they’re coming back. So you know the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results. And that’s what drug addiction that’s what alcohol, that’s what gambling, whether it’s a sex addition food or any addiction, anything that substitutes god, uh, is insanity because it never satisfies. And so this went on and on and on. And then finally I got, I started doing recording sessions and in studios all over the city for jazz movie tv and I was in the union and then I got arrested. You know, I would buy my drugs and there was two undercover detectives late one night and I made friends with them and they became my friend for about three weeks. They would meet me every day and give me some money And I’d buy them extra drugs and give them some and I’d make a few dollars. And then one day I was getting in my car and I was going to the airport to go on a tour and I got pulled over and they said they had a warrant for my arrest. We had a governor in this state at the time called Nelson Rockefeller and he put a law on the books saying if you get caught with any amount of hard drugs, you’re going away for the, for a lifetime 25 years to life automatic. And I got caught. And I remember being in the courtroom and the judge says, you know, he was looking at my, my, my record sheet and he said, you’re a talented musician, but you’re awful stupid and I’ll tell you what I’m gonna do for you one more time, I’m gonna give you five years probation on this 25 to life sentence. Don’t let me see you in my courtroom again, get some help. So that’s when I left new york and went south to florida, south florida of all places. When Fidel castro had just let a whole boatload of Cubans come to Miami and he, he picked the cream of the crop out of the state hospitals and jails down in Havana and they, they, they barraged the shore’s of Miami beach and uh and and it was insanity on the streets down there and I was playing in a little club down in coconut grove in Miami and doing drugs and playing every night. And finally I got hired to play on a recording session for, for Dion and I knew who Dion was, he was from the Bronx, he was a kid from the streets, he had a drug problem, I knew that but he had a lot of major hits on radio, the wanderer runaround, Sue, ruby baby and teenager in love, Abraham martin and john, the list was endless. He’s in the rock and roll hall of Fame. So I get hired and I get into the studio and Deion’s reading the bible in a recording studio. I never seen nobody read the bible anywhere but in the studio and I said, hey Deon, let me ask you something, how did you stop using drugs? And he said funny you should ask, I got born again and I thought he was crazy, I didn’t know what he was talking about and then he asked me to play on a song called Sweet surrender and he said I’ll tell you what listen to this song you’re gonna play on. I put the headphones on and it’s my story. I put it to music and it’s all about coming to a place where you just give up you surrender and you know you can’t do it by yourself. You know you need a power greater than yourself and that one is God may you find them now. And so I uh I started listening to the song and I played it and this is how the song went. We’re gonna give you a little taste of it right now. Hey everybody how you doing? You know up in new york we got a word it’s called Forget about It which means don’t forget about it, especially jesus, he’s everything. This is how he touched me through this song by Dion. I thought I was bad and I had to get good but I was smart but I misunderstood, I thought I was weak and I had to get strong. I was sure I was right then I found I was wrong, I thought I was lost and I had to get they called me square so I tried to get around, the guy was lazy and I had to get busy. I swore I was high but I was just playing dizzy now. I really, really know. I never, never, never knew before. God comes knocking at my house. I finally opened up the door to the casa. He came in, I was all messed up doing heroin, didn’t know who I was, where I was going. Did you ever feel like that? Well jesus is talking to you, come on home, you gotta surround. I was beat down all the way. Help me, jesus listen, I thought I was born so I made a switch thought I was poor and I had to get rich. I knew I was loco and I had to get sane. It wasn’t enough hey, I changed my name. I thought my image needed a pat on the back. I thought my ego needed a cadillac. I was sitting on those leather seats but I was miserable and incomplete now I really, really know. Really? I never never knew before jesus hung up on the tree. Well I finally opened up the door, he came in like a flood. I heard Billy Graham say it one day he said God loves you. He really does, thank you, jesus. Hey, I do a lot of ministry in East L. A. And my good friend little Willie G big singer from the mid nighters came in the studio and he sang this part coming up with, oh thank you Lord, thank you, jesus, Come on, willie bring it brother. Here we go. Sweet surrender, surrender. Oh sweet surrender. There’s a sweet surrender. Sweet. I finally stopped by running find the stock my hide and sweet surrender. There’s a sweet surrender. Get ready to hear about it. Touch the money. Time we worship you Lord! Sweet surrender. Thank you. Thank you, jesus. He put dip in my hip and glide in my stride. So give it up, let it go, surrender. What is it all? Sweet surrender? I heard a saying years ago. There’s attraction rather than promotion. In other words, you see something you want and that’s what I saw in Dion because Dion said I had the world’s formula for success in my pocket at age 19. I had gold records. I was on tour with buddy, holly Ritchie balance, the big bopper. The plane crashed, I didn’t get on it. God was moving. Everybody loved them. And in fact, there might be a play on broadway coming up to the wanderer, but Dion and he was, I was attracted to what he had because he had this sense of peace. And so I said, I want what you have. And that’s when he explained to me how, you know, I could get born again. And I said that’s really nice. But I left that studio that day and I got paid union money and went back and got my drugs and went back to my misery and about three weeks later I attempted suicide in my car in south florida and a police officer pulled me out of my car baker acted me into the state hospital. And that’s where I hit the bottom. I said, I want what Dionne has really. So I got out of that state hospital a few weeks later and got a hold of Dion. He invited me to a little church down in North Miami on a Wednesday night and they had an altar call and I hit that prayer rail man, I hit it so hard I knocked it over and I said, I’m ready. I surrender. Lord fill me, I love you. I’m sorry forgive me famous words but meant it and God transforming that thing october 6th 1981 at about 9 45 in the evening. Let me stop right there. You know when when you understood that jesus christ died on the cross, you knew this already. But now it became personal. He died on the cross for me. He took my sins upon himself, he was buried. But he didn’t stay dead. He rose again from the dead man. I heard this, but I never really understood it. And all of a sudden you know it becomes real. Well the key there to make it real was pain. I was sick and tired of being sick and pain was the thing and I had a mustard seed size of fate and that’s pretty small, tiny bit. But Dion was a witness to me and he told me what to do and I grabbed it. Well you know, here’s the hero, I mean 23 I think 23 24 number one hits. He was one of my heroes, you know had it all. He he went to commit suicide on the Tappan zee I read his book, you know the wanderer and and the car didn’t work, he went to start the brand new car didn’t work and he’s like he can’t even commit suicide now. And he and he saw he went up there and he just looked and he walked up to the bridge and looked around and saw the nature and God began to speak to him through the creation and eventually went to florida and that’s where he trusted christ. But you look at a guy like him who was our hero, he was the doo wop hero from you know Arthur Avenue in in in the Bronx and here now you’re being he’s witnessing he’s sharing the gospel with you for such a time as that. You know when you’re ready that somebody said that when you’re when you’re ready the teacher will appear. I don’t know where that came from but that’s exactly what happened to me when I was ready and I was I was done, stick a fork in me, I’m done and Dion, he was done to done with the music business, the world everything and so man, there I was and I grabbed onto that Gospel. He invited me to church, they had an altar call and I remember after that alter call and I said that prayer, I went out for coffee afterwards, people were looking at me going, look at him, he looks so happy, I couldn’t even talk, it was like God just lifted all this weight off me man. And uh I started to praise God and then I went home that night and my father was in the motel and I walked in and he looked at me and he said, what did you take? I said uh I met jesus tonight and he looked at me and said what are you drinking? Did he drive you home in a taxi? I said no, I really met jesus and it’s a funny thing because he said go to bed, sleep it off. And the next day he hit the bottom he was married to his third wife alcohol, she just crashed and burned. And so he was ready. And I said dad, I’m taking you to Deion’s house, knocked on Dionne’s door and I said Dion here’s my dad, tell him what happened to me and Dion said come on in and he, my dad at 80 years old got on his knees and he said the prayer, dear Lord, I love you, I’m sorry, forgive me and God touched him. So it only takes a spark to start a fire And and that’s what happened with the gospel. And we we continue to do that these days. You spent five years after that going traveling with Dion 12 years. I married a sister. He had a sister named Donna. Beautiful girl grew up here in the city. He had a hit record called Donna. The Prima Donna about her and I traveled with Dion. We went everywhere from Jerusalem to Alaska to Sydney Australia. And just he would bring me up to share my testimony. I would handle his business when we were traveling like a road manager, so to speak. And that went on for a number of years. And then I hit a wall. Me and Donna broke up and then she wound up divorcing me. We had issues. And you know, we weren’t rooted and grounded. It’s so important when you come to the Lord to do what tom does here every week on greek to me is learn the word of God. I mean really diggin otherwise. The enemy comes in and he rips. It rips you off. Takes the word of God and just right. So you got to dig in. Well, that’s what happened. We crashed and burned and what did I do? I went back to my old life and I wanna, I wanna stress this all it takes is one decision. You could be walking straight as an arrow. But you make that one decision and go back. I picked up where I left off 12 years earlier and it was almost like a big tiger went to sleep in me when I got clean and sober and received the Lord. But he was still in there and he was sleeping and when I went back I woke him up but he had grown bigger and he taught me to shreds. I was on these streets, right near here on the streets. I died of an overdose in a building not too far from here. But God brought me back. Guy beat me in the chest so I didn’t know what to do. I knew I walked away from my only hope the Lord jesus and there was no hope for me. But somebody in California said, come on out and will help you. So I went out there and went on a little program called calvary Ranch. It was a little christian program and the pastor said to me, Tommy macaloon from Jersey city ran this program. He was in the Marine Corps and he started this program when he got out of the marines and he said you need to get right with God, that’s all that matters because that was then and this is now yesterday’s gone and ain’t coming back tomorrow is not here yet. You ready to get right with God. I said absolutely. And I said the prayer again and God came in and he reworked me and I learned a valuable lesson about staying close to the Lord every day not to trash my testimony to walk, circumspect lee with the Lord every day. Make sure you get up, talk to him, read his word and then apply it every day. And then today my life is so beautiful. And I learned a valuable lesson about Denying Jesus like that’s what I did. How long ago was that when you came back to the Lord, 1995? That was a long time ago. That was a long time ago. And then that pastor took me under his wing out there. So you know, the Bible talks about Godly men like David. He went astray. He had paid the price, you know, and I love that verse that it says in psalm 23 restore me, restore me. And then again he said in psalm 51 restore unto me the joy of my salvation. He restores my soul. He likes that word restored because he he took some falls, man. You know, I learned a valuable lesson. C 22 again, experience that life alive. You know? And to restore to me the joy of my salvation. You know, you don’t have joy when you’re away from God. When you’re what does it say in psalm 1 33 you you hang your your your harp, your guitar, you hanging on the willows by the rivers of Babylon where your slave and he’s and David. David is praying. You know, I want to sing those songs that we used to sing back in Zion and and so God now is giving you christian do a man always closed and talk about the christian. My website is santos ministries dot org. You can buy that on that website but it’s all doo wop. Little Anthony’s on there, leon Patillo from Santana and their say there there’s believers. Yeah so many richie fury from poco. He’s in the rock and roll hall of Fame also. He’s a good friend of mine and we do this music for the Lord now and you can see that’s part of my website back there. But Dion encouraged me to to do this music. So I started doing it got a producer in L. A. And we got the best musicians out of L. A. All the studio cats. And we recorded this stuff and it’s been nonstop. I get testimonies everywhere. I sing it from Rikers Island to pent houses to Louisiana state penitentiary, Angola state prison. It’s so beautiful because when you put the word of God in there he doesn’t work no matter what it’s the lyrics that matter. You know I have a friends of mine that do hardcore. Uh the group called P. O. D. Payable on death and all the young people of them. I don’t understand the music it’s like that but the kids understand it because the lyrics and they’re pointing to jesus and he reaches you wherever you are up and out down and out. He’ll reach you there. Some of those my, you know, I’m I’m of your generation and I just like to know what are some of the key groups are the key individuals that are in this do up one more time. So we could, you know, see the hand of God and how he has to transformed people even from the do op. So some of them were that you mentioned already. Well, I mean as far as the groups that the guy, the guys that have come to christ and doing little Anthony and the imperials, a current king of latin soul, joe Bataan, he’s on tour right now. He’s in his eighties, still singing all over but he loves the Lord. Uh, there’s so many, I mean, I, I mean I can’t even begin to tell you leon Patillo, a former lead singer with Santana. Leon has a ministry. He trap all over. I was listening to cousin brucie on Sirius XM when he was interviewing Tommy James and you know, Tommy had that hit record, Crystal blue persuasion. I always grew up singing that look over yonder, What’s that you see? So, cousin brucie said, where did you get the inspiration to write that song? And he said the book of revelation, talking about heaven and then all of a sudden the song made sense to me. So the list is endless. I mean, you know, all the artists, Cliff Richard, the biggest singer in in England. He’s worldwide known eric Clapton. I hear stories, bob Dylan had uh touched slow train coming, slow train coming. I mean the list is endless. I mean there’s so many people, but it’s the Lord that does the work in in the heart. It’s not a religious thing, it’s a personal thing. So if you’re seeking him right now, give a personal invitation to people that if you’re hearing me and you identify and maybe your empty, maybe you’re coming up on empty. You look at the world right now and you got to be a rocket scientist to figure out something ain’t working. But God makes it work. He took my life when it was crashing and burning and flipped it. So if you’re in that point now where you’re sick and tired of being sick and tired, just quietly bow your heart with me and say this simple prayer with me, you ready say this with me, say dear father, I come to you now in jesus name and I ask you father, forgive me of my sins. I invite your son, jesus christ into my heart as my Lord. And as my savior with my mouth I confess jesus christ and in my heart I believe that you raised him from the dead now according to your word, I’m born again, I’m saved. All my sins have been forgiven me, I’m yours and your mind help me father to live a life for you. From this moment on in jesus name, Amen and God bless you. We’ve been listening to santos, walter santos who just goes by santos and he is the king of do op with the Gospel in the Middle. God bless you until next time. Amen.