The 700 Club with Pat Robertson


Ron Brown: Facing the Music

By Julie Blim
The 700 Club“My goal was to play with some of the best in the world.”

And he did. Ron Brown was a talented, young saxophone player who got a break and made it big.

“My first big break came when I joined the Duke Ellington Orchestra,” says Ron. “There are things about music, about playing that you really only learn [from playing with] top professionals.”

Ron later toured with Natalie Cole, Diana Ross, and played gigs with Whitney Houston and Stevie Wonder. With the jobs came connections, travel, money… and other things.

“To play with the best in the world, you gotta go out in the world to play with ’em. I went out and got farther and farther, and then I was lost.”

Ron had grown up in church and lived a pretty clean life. But he learned quickly that part of the entertainment world was the party after the show…

“[Someone says] ‘Hey, let’s go down to the bar and slam one down.’ So I said, ‘Okay, let’s go down to the bar and slam one down!’”

That prepped him for the next offer. And it went from there …

“I tried cocaine for the first time in Las Vegas,” says Ron. “I went through this phase of: I will never buy cocaine. I’m never gonna do that because I saw what happened to a good friend of mine. I remember the first time I actually bought. I knew that I was breaking this little rule I had put in my head. There was a drug that came out called crack cocaine, which is probably ten times more addictive than just regular [cocaine], and that’s what took me out.”

Ron had turned down drugs many times. Now here he was playing for Diana Ross and about to do something he’d never done before.

Ron recalls, “Saturday night. Caesar’s palace. The stage opens, and Ron Brown is not there.”

So the next day he had to “face the music” with Diana…

“I walk in and she says, ‘Ron, I heard about your problem. These people are from the care unit. Do you wanna go before the show or after the show?’ Not only did she set it up, but she flew my wife out, and she paid for the rehab.”

Ron Brown and Kirk WhalumAfter 30 days, Ron was back, playing with the band, thinking his days of crack addiction were over. But after staying clean for nearly a year, he fell again. That cycle continued for the next few years. His wife, Barbara, finally reached her limit.

“[She said] ‘Ron, I love you. But I just can’t watch you kill yourself.’ Now I’m not with my wife? Something’s wrong.”

Barbara asked Ron to move out. His drug use went from bad to worse.

“I pawned my instruments -- my clarinet, bass clarinet, flute. I had a $4,000 flute that I got $25 for.”

Then came rock bottom.

“You’re like filthy on the floor, looking for remnants of the drug you may have dropped on the floor, picking out of the carpet. While on my knees on the floor, the Lord spoke to me. He spoke to me clearly. He said, ‘You are my child. You are my child.’ Just those words started to change me right then. All of a sudden this confidence came over me, and I said, ‘Wait a minute. Hold up. I’m God’s child. I’m God’s child. I can’t go out like this. I’m not goin’ out like this.’”

Ron Brown was finally ready to repent. He’d had faith in God for years, gone to a Bible study, but tried to manage life on his own. That was January, 1991, and he’s been clean ever since. He says what’s kept him that way is returning to church and being accountable. He now leads the Bible study group that prayed for him for years.

“Why didn’t I get it before? We were talkin’ about Psalm 34:18 today, that He loves the broken hearted, crushed in spirit. My spirit wasn’t crushed yet.’”

And Barbara? After a separation, they reunited. Now they’ve been married nearly 30 years and have three beautiful daughters.

Ron BrownRon has continued recording music all these years, but with a different outlook. He also became fluent in Japanese and goes to Japan regularly to play and share the gospel …

“If you focus on ministry, God will give you what you need in the industry,” Ron says. “Until it was like white flag, I give up, I surrender, Lord, I don’t know anything, show me, tell me what You would have me to do, that’s when God’s got you right where He wants you, and He can use you."

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