JOHN HELTON: The Blind Fury
How did you get involved in music?
I was exposed to music at a very young age by my dad. Dad was pretty much a walking music encyclopedia. He was a singer and drummer and I remember seeing his drum kit sitting in the basement. For a 4-5 year old kid, the sparkly drums caused me to be intrigued. What kid wouldn’t be fascinated by that?
I jumped on those drums and played my very first song and remember what it was to this day: “Jungle Boogie” by Kool and the Gang. Ok, I am using the term “played it” loosely. I guess I could say, “I was on the drums and hit stuff during that song.”
I also had an interest in keyboards because my mom also played piano. And while that was fun, my taste in music was geared toward the heavier stuff. In the '70s when I was in my single digits, I was turned onto Cream, Vanilla Fudge, Foreigner, Kiss, The Steve Miller Band, Boston, etc.
My dad would even sit down with me, wrap his arms around me and grab my hands, helping me hold the drumsticks and guide me through playing songs on the bed. I did that for years (playing drums on the bed) and bought my first drum set at 21 years old.
As I grew, my tastes just continued to get heavier and heavier. In sixth grade, I ended up transferring to a Christian school. While I knew about “God and Jesus,” I really did not understand what it was all about. But in my middle school and early high school years, I was turned on to The Rez Band and Petra. Those were the heaviest Christian bands I could find at the time, but the desire to get heavier was still there. Then, this band called “Stryper” came out and it was just what the doctor ordered for my desire for heaviness.
Right around that time, my dad bought me a cassette of a band I had never heard. I put it in my player and was immediately drawn to them as well. That was Whitecross.
As I got older and started to stray from the path, I got into the hair bands of the '80s.
November 25, 1990, is when I say my “true salvation” happened, when I truly gave my heart to Christ and started living it. It is too long of a story to get into, but soon after that, I was turned on to bands like Believer, Tourniquet, Deliverance, and my music taste was quenched! Years later, I am still into the heavier genres!
What happened with those initial businesses/ministry, when you were "the Hat Guy”?
In 1993, I felt my life needed change, so I moved to Nashville. Before moving, I worked for my parents in their embroidery business. I was also playing music in a fairly successful local band (Omega Highway) and started making contacts with bands we played with such as Bride and D.O.C. Still working for my parent’s business, we started doing hats for Bride. If anybody remembers the black hats with the Bride logo, then in multi-colored thread the words, “Psychedelic Super Jesus” right across the logo, well, that was me.
When I moved to Nashville, I got a job at an embroidery factory, but decided to start making some additional contacts with Christian bands/artists. I made enough contacts to start my own company called, “Master Ministries.” Through doing merchandising, I met a lot of the Christian artists of which I was doing embroidery work. Then, GMA week happened and I was all over the place trying to meet as many artists as I could. With my connections, I was asked to officiate the “artist vs. industry” flag football game. I think the most athletic person on the field that day was a guy named Doug Van Pelt. (laughs)
Unfortunately, I was not able to do enough business to get my bills paid, so I had to go to work in the corporate world. In addition, my first child was born and soon after that, I realized how important it was for me to be a dad and not a musician. I sold my drums, started working a good job in Nashville, and put the music down for the next 12 years before moving back to Kentucky to go back to work for my parents in another family business they had. But with playing music, doing embroidery work, and hanging out during GMA week and meeting people, I have been able to sustain some of those relationships to this day.
I moved back to Kentucky in 1997 and to my hometown in 1998. I went back to work in another family business and managed it until my dad retired.
Tell us about your life experiences since then. What happened?
Wow, what a loaded question.
Without getting into details, I was hit with some unexpected marriage issues. So, that took my life in a bunch of twists and turns I was not prepared for and certainly did not expect. Needless to say, I became a single dad.
In June 2006, still working for the family business, I ran into an old bandmate and mentioned I had been thinking of getting me a used drum set to have some “jam sessions” at the house for fun. He got interested in that and we decided that, if I were to purchase a set of drums, we would get together on occasion and just have fun jamming. I ended up purchasing a brand new set of drums that cost much more than I wanted to spend! Then, a few days later, he brought over a guy from church that he just met who was a lead guitarist. Both showed up, we did some cover tunes and realized we might have something the very first day we played. This band was Wisdom's Call.
About 6 weeks later, we were recording an all original, full-length CD. In March 2007, we signed with a small record label out of Texas called, “Soul Joy Records,” that is unfortunately no longer with us. In June 2007, we ended up playing Cornerstone on the Soul Joy Records stage. So much for the jam sessions, huh?
I was doing all of this as a single dad of 3 young children as well as coaching some of their sports. Those were some great times!
Then, I remarried in February 2008 and just 3 ½ months after getting married, my life took a bizarre turn and completely changed just about everything about me.
I had just left the band after nearly 2 years with them, and noticed I was having some pretty bad eye issues. I struggled some anyway, but this was not normal. It was evident something was going on within, because on May 21st, 2008, I ended up in the emergency room after getting dizzy. Everything was normal, but they held me overnight for observations. The next day, on May 22nd, things took a turn for the worse and I, all of a sudden, was fighting for my life.
Long story short, when being released (for the second time) on June 18, 2008, from the hospital, I was almost completely blind. It took a miracle for me to even be alive today, and I have written a book about that journey which also includes suddenly becoming a widower in April 2017.
I went from having vision and being married, to becoming legally blind, to becoming a legally blind widower.
There is more to this story, but I will tell you about that in a bit.
How did you deal with that? How did you survive?
Actually, my book answers that exact question. For the sake of this interview, when the Bible says God gives you peace that passes all understanding, He is not kidding! It is something that is unexplainable. Unless you experience it, it is just really hard to explain. I guess that is why it’s called “supernatural.”
But the Bible says that a wise man builds his house on the rock (Christ), so when the storms come and beats against that house, it will still stand. Conversely, it says for those who build their houses on the sand (influenced by the world and without Christ), when the storms come, the house will fall with a “great crash.” No telling where I would be today had my house not been built on the rock of Christ. I am pretty certain my house would have fallen with a “great crash” had it been built on sand. In short, that is how I handled it and got through it; by the incredible grace and mercy of Jesus Christ, and the supernatural strength He gave me during those difficult times.
What led to this new thing?
It’s actually kind of interesting the way it happened, and it was a progression of scenarios that led to it.
At the end of 2017, I started getting more into ministry type activities since my dad retired, which allowed me to semi-retire. I was on disability due to the blindness and thought I might be able to pick up part-time work at home job at some point.
In the meantime, God started to lay things on my heart to do, which I can explain later.
In 2019, with the connections I had made with Christian musicians and personalities throughout the years, I decided to start something that was more of a hobby and do podcast interviews. I had several confirmed and had actually spent several hours on the phone with Jimmy Brown of Deliverance.
But because the ministries I had been called to started to get more involved, and I knew it was a calling and not a hobby like podcasting interviews, (will share this info in a bit), I had to put away the “hobby” and focus on my “calling.” With that, I put the podcast idea away.
Once I got things somewhat leveled out with the ministries I was involved with, and with the completion of my book, one thing led to another and my thoughts went back to that podcast. Except this time, with a twist using the Zoom application. I was already using it for another ministry, so why not this?
I thought, “I can bring on the artists I was already in touch with on a video chat, then bring in the fans of those artists and bring them together to interact with each other.” It might not be in person, but it is the next best thing when you can chat with the artists directly, ask questions yourself, make comments to them, etc.
Having been on both sides of this spectrum, I knew what it was like to meet artists you followed, and having played music, I absolutely loved mingling with the fans. This idea provided both of these things to happen.
So, I started contacting those I had already spoken to, and then started getting in touch with some new people as well, and “The Psalm 150 Talk Show” was born.
I have been amazed at how most every artist I have asked did not just say, “Yeah, I can do that.” Most of them have said, “Yes, I would love to!” With the shows I have already done, it seems to me the artists are enjoying it every bit as much as the people joining in to talk to them. Seeing the artists reactions as well as getting comments after the show as to how much people are enjoying it just really, really blesses me.
So far, it has exceeded my expectations on the “fun factor” for sure.
In 2021, I will start to venture out to more than just Christian music and bring in other Christian entertainers such as Christian comedians, actors, etc. But the end goal is the same: to allow the “fans” to mingle with the people they would not normally be able to interact with. So, we will see how that goes.
What are your goals with the podcast?
There are 3 main goals:
To bless the fans who may have never had the chance to talk to some of these personalities. I wanted to create a way for them to make that happen.
To bless the artists in getting to mingle with the fans in a safe place where their locations and personal information stays private, but where they get to talk to those who have supported them over the years and put them where they are today.
To get my story out there and :
Encourage them that, even when things are not perfect, you can still do things you set your mind to. Being legally blind, I try to lead by example with this to encourage people.
To challenge them to not let hurdles hold them back. “If a legally blind guy can do this, then what is YOUR excuse?” That is how I love to challenge people.
Tell us about the book.
The book is called, “STOP YOUR WHINING: Legally Blind with 20/20 Vision.”
I wrote about the roller coaster ride I was on when I got really sick in May 2008.
Everything from a doctor blaming my illness on my marriage, to people talking about me in the hospital because I was so out of it, to the miraculous way they finally were able to diagnose me, etc.
I ended up having three brain diseases, all at one time and with absolutely NO immune system to fight them. I had cerebral histoplasmosis, meningitis, and encephalitis. I reiterate, absolutely no immune system and had them all at the SAME time. Just one of those illnesses can take out a completely healthy person, and here I am today.
The only thing that really happened was that I lost a lot of vision and am now legally blind. Just that, in itself, is a huge miracle if you realize the situation I was in as a whole and how serious those issues are.
Then, there is a chapter in there that is dedicated to nothing but laughter and it is called, “Laughter Does Good Like a Medicine.” I tell some of the goofy things I’ve done being blind. You don’t really want to laugh, but you just have to. Everything from yelling at basketball officials, to walking into things, etc.
The book concludes with the story of when my (former) wife suddenly passed away, how I got through it, the way God kept His Word, etc.
The entire book concludes with challenges and encouragement of how to look at life with a different perspective and I talk about how mindset is such an important aspect of life. The way you think and approach life, the way you handle and respond to tough times etc. will determine a lot about your destination, and the fulfillment you will have when you get there.
I have been so humbled by the comments and encouragement that I have received from those who have read the book and mentioned quotes that struck them and made them think. Quotes such as:
“God has a harder time hearing your prayers when your whining is louder.”
“How we must grieve the heart of God when we only complain about the very things He blesses us with.”
Again, it is all in your perspective and mindset.
Ultimately, the book is a challenge for people to not be so caught up in things they cannot change, which can make you miserable, and to instead, focus on all of the beautiful blessings around you.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 says, “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing,” and that is what I am trying to do.
We all have gifts that we can use, even if we have a handicap. Ephesians 2:10 says “we are God’s handiwork,” and I want people to see that very truth in themselves by challenging and encouraging them.
In other words, “Stop Your Whining.”
I believe this is one of the gifts God has given me to use, so that is why I wrote the book and travel to places to speak and tell my story.
What is your take on how the Christian music industry and/or music industry itself has changed over the years?
I think the biggest difference is that to see bands that are heavy who are Christian, you have to catch them most of the time in venues that hold secular shows and endure the “F Bombs” for 90 minutes before the band you want to see comes on.
Then, opening a can of worms, it seems like a lot of the bands who call themselves Christian bands enjoy talking and using language like the world uses. I have a problem with that. Christ tells us to be holy as He is holy. Holy in that sense means to be separate. We are not to “blend in” with the world, and when you use language that is foul and worldly, I feel you are hurting your witness and you are definitely not separating yourselves from what this world has to offer.
That really bugs me to be honest. And some people respond with, “Times are changing.” Then I respond with, “Yeah, but scripture doesn’t.” That just bothers me. We are called to, “live a life worthy of the calling we have received.”
Christian rock and metal makes me think of this verse:
Matthew 10:16 “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.”
Well, Christian metal can draw in the non-Christians. But using language that the world uses is not the way to do it.
I met Ryan from Fit for a King after a show one night and thanked him for not using language. His response was, “You don’t have to use language to get people moving.” I loved that.
Then again, maybe it has always been this way and I completely missed it. lol
What else would you like to talk about?
I would love to tell you about the other ministries I am involved in other than The Psalm 150 Talk Show, which I really, really hope people will get involved with!
I told you there was more to the story that I would tell you about later. So I guess now would be a good time to do that.
In 2009, God called me to the speaking ministry and I have been doing that since. I travel to churches and anywhere else that would have me to tell my story and challenge people, encourage them, and hopefully make them laugh all at the same time!
A lot of times during my speaking engagements, if the church allows, I will even do a drum solo and it is likely I will throw a little double bass in there.
I mean, how many blind guys have you seen do a drum solo in the middle of a church during a speaking engagement?
Then, after my (former) wife passed and during speaking engagements, I thought I might say something, almost in passing, about cherishing your spouse when I would speak. But then later in 2017, I met someone that I started dating which pretty much started a ministry avalanche.
After hearing her story of abuse, which caused her to stray and go down a dark and destructive path, my ears started to get more in tune with couples, especially marriage.
As we dated, I started to dig into scripture to learn more about what God’s Word says about marriage. The more I studied, the more intrigued I became, and God has been dropping “marriage bombs” on me ever since.
Then in August of 2018, I married her. Our story is so supernatural, there is likely to be another book written about it. When you seek God, you will find Him, and that is what happened! I have grown so much as a Christian just from her story.
Anyway, as 2018 continued, I then thought I might start a marriage/couples ministry because of what God was revealing to me. By the time 2019 rolled around, that ministry, I thought, would simply have a podcast and YouTube Channel. But God…. He had other plans and kept adding things for me to do regarding this ministry.
So, in addition to the speaking ministry, I now run a marriage and relationship ministry called “Marital Monkey.” That is because I am serious when I have to be, but I love humor. So, considering monkeys are my favorite animals, “Marital Monkey” Seemed to be the perfect name for what God also called me to do.
Marital Monkey is actually the reason I stopped the podcast interviews in 2019. The more God put on my heart to do for the marriage ministry, the less time I had for “hobbies.”
Then, in 2020, my wife and I decided to go to school together to enhance that ministry. Both of us are now Certified Relationship Coaches, Certified Bereavement Coaches, and Certified Professional Coaches.
I do that through both The Blind Fury and Marital Monkey.
My wife also has her own ministry that is geared strictly for women called, “Heart Restored.” It is for women or young girls who have been through much of what she has been through.
I also do a show on Monday nights called, “Marital Monkey Mondays.” I teach marriage according to scripture, and also talk about practical, everyday topics. We also play games and sometimes hand out certificates to places like Denny’s and Texas Roadhouse. It is something like a Bible study on marriage, but we interact, share opinions, have a ton of fun, and give personal stories that might help someone else. Ultimately, it is marriage and relationship building, but if you are single, it will also help you when you begin a relationship. As with just about everything I do, there is always a twist in there to prevent it from being “status quo.”
On the first night of the show a guy told me, “Man, you stepped on my toes, but I couldn’t argue with you because you were right.” He started working on areas immediately where he could improve. That is what it is all about!
With that, I can also do marriage workshops and conferences along with my inspirational and motivational speaking engagements.
In booking me for a speaking engagement, men’s conference, etc., I typically just ask for donations and/or love offerings.
When those are booked, I pay my own way to get there and simply accept whatever the church decides they want to do for me. I do what I know I am called to do and let God be my accountant. He’s much better at it than I am. I just have a passion for what He’s called me to do and I want to take the lid off of Him and allow Him to operate.
If you go to my website, you will read that my book will be sent to you for whatever amount you donate. That is also true if you do not donate anything at all because I want people to have the book who want it. It would break my heart knowing someone may have been helped or encouraged by the book, but it did not happen because they couldn’t afford it.
As a Certified Relationship Coach, Certified Bereavement Coach, and Certified Professional Coach, I learned I could charge at minimum $50 for 45 minutes. But that is the problem; a lot of people cannot afford that, and then what? They still walk around struggling because nobody cares enough about them to help without taking a huge chunk of money.
For my wife and I, we have a set fee; however, we have ways to help those who cannot afford it. We are working on getting a scholarship fund for this reason as well as working with people so they can pay what they can afford.
All of our ministries -- which are “The Blind Fury Ministries,” “Marital Monkey,” and “Heart Restored” -- they are under what we call, “The Blood Wall.” I have not really pushed the name The Blood Wall that much. But the goal is to get it built up down the road to add other ministries from other people to help promote them as well.
I would love for people to visit our websites if they would like and drop in and say hello.
For my speaking ministry as well as a few other things I am into, you can go to:
For the marriage and relationship ministry, you can go to:
And my wife’s ministry is:
My wife has been through some stuff, so there is nobody better to talk to than her, in my opinion. I believe in that woman. She also does coaching for women.
But for sure, I hope everybody will join us on The Psalm 150 Talk Show to be able to chat with the artists we bring on!
My official website has the updated schedule and how to join the show.
Lastly, I just want to encourage people by telling them to let God work in your life. Even today, I am still trying to learn how to operate by seeing the world with spiritual eyes. You know, being “legally blind with 20/20 vision.”
NOTE: For any bands/artists, or Christian entertainers, who would like to be a guest on the show and interact with the fans who helped them achieve their success, contact John at the email address at the end of this article for booking information.