What a bunch of Mormons

Saturday's Warrior is a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints-themed musical written by and serial WWR offender, the three-times married father of 10 Alexis “Lex” de Azevedo (Ric King, Mrs Miller). The musical tells the story of a group of children that are born into a Mormon family but whose relationship with each other goes back to a time before they became mortal.

Two of the children, Jimmy and Julie, encounter personal struggles that help them rediscover and fulfil their mission in life. The musical explores the Mormon doctrines of ‘premortal’ life, ‘foreordination’ (the idea that, before birth, God selected particular people to fulfil certain missions during their mortal lives), and eternal marriage. It depicts abortion and birth control as being contrary to the divine plan: in the same year that the musical was first staged the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released a statement which read ‘The Church opposes abortion and counsels its members not to submit to or perform an abortion except in the rare cases where, in the opinion of competent medical counsel, the life or good health of the mother is seriously endangered or where the pregnancy was caused by rape and produces serious emotional trauma in the mother. Even then it should be done only after counseling with the local presiding priesthood authority and after receiving divine confirmation through prayer.’

That still hold true today, and what else would you expect from a ‘faith’ that teaches that God used to be a man on another planet, that he became a God (that’s ‘a’, not ‘the’) by following the laws of the God on that planet, that he came to earth with his wife, and that their children included Jesus, the devil, and you – oh, and that you have the potential of becoming gods of your own planets and are then able to start the process all over again. And don’t get me started on gold plates, magic hats, seer stones and whatnot.

As an aside, what would be the point of praying to God to allow you to have an abortion after being raped? Surely if God existed he/she would have prevented the rape in the first place? Just sayin’…

Saturday's Warriorwas first staged in 1973, with the soundtrack issued by Embryo Records the following year. A huge hit with the LDS community, in 1989 a horribly overacted video version of the musical was produced (which you can find on YouTube if you have nothing better to do). In a peculiar twist, a year after the video was issued two men – Karyl Eugene Harkins and Peter R. Jepp – were sued by Robert Williams of Fieldbrook Productions Inc (who owned the rights to the video performance) for illegally producing 1,000 copies of the videocassette for sale in Utah. Williams claimed that Harkins had copies made from another copy (i.e second generation) and that they were of poor quality. Selling them would ‘irreparably damage the reputation and marketability’ of the original video. Harkins, who has practiced in naturopathic and homeopathic medicine at Salt Lake Homeopathy since 2002, is no stranger to run ins with the law: in 2014 he was charged with Unlawful and Unprofessional Conduct for practicing homeopathic medicine without a license. According to charging documents undercover agents went to Harkins' practice and claimed to have various ailments like pressure in the head, shoulder pain, frequent urination, and frequent thirst. Harkins allegedly placed two fingers on the investigator’s arm, asked him questions, then diagnosed him with ‘Worms, fluxes, bacteria in his body, and 26 kinds of tape worms.’ Harkins then allegedly sent the undercover agent home with $259 in supplements.

Anyway, I digress. This ridiculous mish-mash of American cheese, religious cliché and rock ‘n roll has  - a staple of LDS households for the last 40 years - hit the big screen this year, after a Kickstarter campaign raised over $10,000 to fund it. Universally panned (outside of the LDS community, that is), according to the movie’s website ‘When Lex de Azevedo wrote the iconic chords that have become immediately and emotionally recognizable to fans around the world, he had no idea the impact that they and Saturday’s Warrior would have. The story and the songs gave voice to, and filled a need for, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. In the 60’s and 70’s rock music had become the pulpit of a generation and that pulpit was preaching values that were opposed to what the LDS church believed. Saturday’s Warrior was the first time that LDS people saw their culture represented through the medium of popular music and it was an immediate phenomenon.’

And there you have it; clearly the LDS chose to ignore the phenomenal rise of the Osmonds – who, naturally, de Azevedo had also worked with. Four years after Saturday’s Warriordebuted, our Lex lent his musical chops to another Mormon musical, the much less successful My Turn on Earth, and in 2007 Lex’s co-conspirator Doug Stewart debuted The White Star, the sequel to Saturday’s Warrior, only this time without Lex’s involvement. 

I'm not sure what, if anything, I've learned from listening to this - apart from that stuttering is a mortal sin, or something. Still sit back, put a hat over your face and indulge in a brace of cuts from the soundtrack to Saturday’s Warrior: Pullin' Together (complete with awful, shrieking children), and the apocalyptic power ballad Zero Population.


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