Life At The Top Takes One Musician To The Bottom

It was 1975 when Shirley and company topped the charts with “Shame, Shame, Shame.” The song had been an instant hit, thrusting singer Jason Alvarez into stardom.

Jason recalls, “It was nothing that I expected. It was the total opposite. I was emptier than ever.”

Jason was 10 when his family fled Castro’s Cuba and moved to the projects of New Jersey. As a poor minority he was treated like he was second-rate. His pride led him to take matters into his own hands.

“Gangs and people pressing you and challenging you. I was not used to that. I made up my mind nobody was going to push me around anymore.”

To prove his worth he formed a gang as a young teenager. Even then he still felt life was miserable. But there was one thing that gave him joy.

Jason remembers, “I was always into music since I was a little boy, I loved music, I loved singing.”

But Jason never considered music as his ticket out. Until one day, a couple of musicians overheard him singing.

“We love the way you sing, man.We're going to start a group in two weeks. But you have to play an instrument.”

Jason asked his father to buy a guitar.

“I said, ‘I’m really going in the wrong direction with my life. And I will come out of this, I know that that's what I love to do is sing, you know.’ My father bought me the guitar.”

Jason joined the group and eventually left the gang life.

“I fell in love with music and I started doing weddings and some nightclubs.”

By 21, Jason was married to gale and pursuing music full time. He released his own album and eventually signed with Platinum Records. But that didn’t fill the growing emptiness.

Jason says, “I started doing drugs. I just uh – somebody kinda turned me on to marijuana and then I started doing LSD."

He was at the studio one day when a producer was struggling to find the right voice for a song. She asked Jason to do a take.

“And I see the people inside the studio going crazy, you know? And so she says, ‘Jay, that was great!’ I said, ‘I’m ready to sing it now.’ she goes, ‘sing it?’ she said, ‘man, we already took it, that take was amazing. Come inside and listen to it.’"

That song was “Shame, Shame, Shame.”

Jason says, “Bang! Overnight, man. We're touring the world.”

Jason was quickly caught up in his celebrity.

“Signing all these autographs, you know, people crazy, screaming, you know, being in front of 10,000 people. That became my life and that became my god.”

With that lifestyle came more drug abuse, which eventually caused his wife to ask for separation. Even then he felt like he was on top of the world. Then one day, while he and another musician were smoking pot, he asked Jason a question that shattered his illusion.

“He said, ‘man, is this all there is to life?’ and then I realized that that wasn't really what my heart had been searching for," says Jason.

Jason became depressed and at times contemplated suicide.

“Life became just uh – I was just existing. There was a hole in my heart. That money, drugs, women, success, hit records couldn't fill man.”

Eventually the song dropped off the charts and the tour came to an end. It was then Jason decided to make amends with his wife. By now, gale had become a Christian and agreed to try to work things out. He never considered her faith for himself until he took her to church one day and felt drawn to go inside.

Jason recalls, “I heard the gospel preached for the first time in my life. And god just kinda spoke directly to me.”

Intrigued, Jason went back the following Sunday.

“This guy starts preaching. And he says, ‘there is somebody here that God has been dealing with and today you need to give your life to Jesus.’ I’m sitting back there man, I’m thinking to myself ‘it's crazy, you know?’ and then the thought hit me, ‘you have done everything. You've tried everything. Why-why don't you do this?’"

Jason made his way down to the altar, and prayed to receive Jesus Christ as his savior.

Jason says, “When that guy said that sinner's prayer, man, I said it from the depths of my soul. And when I got done praying I could tell you this, the long search that long search, man, that long search had come to an end. That hole had finally had the piece that was missing put in.”

Jason knew at once that he was changed. He stopped doing drugs and began restoring his relationship with gale. He also started making Christian music. Today, Jason and gale pastor the love of Jesus church in New Jersey. Of course, he’s still making music.

"God said this to me, if you will just hold on to my hand and not let go, I will walk you through every dark place in your life and bring you to the other side.”

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