In these episodes, we interview Lex de Azevedo —  son of Alyce King of The King Sisters. Lex served as a musical director for The Sonny & Cher ShowMichael Jackson and the Jackson Five, and The Osmonds. He composed the scores for the films Where the Red Fern Grows and The Swan Princess.  He is also credited as the co-writer of the Latter-day Saint production, Saturday’s Warrior.

In this high-energy interview, we cover:

  • His childhood/adolescent years growing up in Hollywood and New Jersey, including watching his mom (Alyce) as a performer for the King Sisters.
  • His early career as a record producer for Capitol Records, also working with Sonny & Cher, Michael Jackson & the Jackson Five.
  • Scoring movies: Where the Red Fern Grows (70s), The Swan Princess and Golden Globe Nominations (1996).
  • The behind-the-scenes story of the creation of Saturday’s Warrior, and his thoughts on how it defied the odds to become immensely successful and eventually a motion-picture (2016).
  • What Saturday’s Warrior meant to Mormons, including a discussion of its power as a piece of art.
  • Lex’s creative process and his thoughts on business within Mormonism.
  • The Mormonism of decades past vs. the Mormonism of today, and whether any of Lex’s beliefs have (or have not) changed over time.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:


  1. Anne September 20, 2017 at 10:39 am - Reply

    I agree with John — “What’s the miracle?!”

    All I can think is that the Mormon Church works amazingly well for white straight men.

    • Laura Sinden September 22, 2017 at 9:58 pm - Reply

      Thats exactly what I was thinking when I listened to this podcast. Also , white, straight men who are rich

    • Laura Sinden September 22, 2017 at 9:58 pm - Reply

      Thats exactly what I was thinking when I listened to this podcast. Also , white, straight men who are rich

  2. Tracy Austin September 20, 2017 at 11:05 am - Reply

    All sorts of specialness going on. Interesting podcast, thank you.

  3. Gm September 20, 2017 at 4:29 pm - Reply

    Religious beliefs are subjective and go in circular reasoning at least months guys case. He has a very emotional testimony feeling, knowing, hopefullness. It sounds like insanity to me.

  4. Debbie September 20, 2017 at 9:43 pm - Reply

    I see a boy who was lonely and abandoned and created an internal “magical-spiritual” life that he dips into joyfully as an adult. Lex is obviously brilliant, dedicated, sincere and loving. But, the more he spoke about faith and god and the mysteries of the universe, the more unhinged his reasoning became. In fact, it stopped being “reason”.

    • Laura Sinden September 22, 2017 at 10:09 pm - Reply

      This is exactly what I was thinking. Left to his own devices as a teenager/young adult he developed the ability to listen to his own inner voice. Then he joined the mormon church and they told him that was God. The third episode was difficult to listen to,. All sorts of double speak and bigotry. “Just love people” but the bible says homosexuality is bad, so God doesnt love you, but I do”, Sigh… then again he is a product of his time. Kudos to John for letting him speak his truth even if it was difficult.

  5. Dewayne September 20, 2017 at 11:46 pm - Reply

    I appreciate his honesty. But, I couldn’t help but wonder how he evaded a Bishop’s Court himself. Unless I’m wrong, it seemed painfully obvious that he committed adultery on his first and probably his second wife. Of course, all Mormons know the same thing; only those who admit to what they’ve done get punished.

    • Wendy September 22, 2017 at 1:58 am - Reply

      Thats quite a leap for someone to make. Isnt that what tbms get accused of. Assuming reasons why people do things like leave?
      John’s restraint just laid him bare and it was painful to listen to. Yes. Lots of white priveledge. And kinda sad i think. But yep got my blood pressure up too on the third episode. You’re angry, you’re sad, frustrated. Everything we want from a MS episode!

      • min-shaft September 22, 2017 at 9:34 am - Reply

        I completely agree. I’m as exmo as they come but couldn’t find anything to suggest that what Dewaynesays is appropriate to speculate about. While I don’t like moderators to curtail discussion, I would encourage John Dehlin to delete this comment.

  6. Frank September 21, 2017 at 10:38 am - Reply

    I’m sure Lex de Azevedo is very familiar with Nephi Anderson’s book “Added Upon,” written in 1898. Quoting from Wikipedia, “The story concerns several spirit children of God who move from the pre-existence, to mortal life, to their eternal reward, interacting with each other at each step. The novel influenced many subsequent Mormon works of literature, notably Saturday’s Warrior.”

    I’m surprised that Lex did not mention Andersen’s influence on Saturday’s Warrior.

    • Sonny September 21, 2017 at 7:04 pm - Reply

      How much of the story and lyric of Saturday’s Warrior do you think Lex was involved with? I think overall Doug was the mastermind behind the story, characters, and lyric while Lex composed the music and made suggestions. You should ask Doug your question

  7. Doubting Thomas September 21, 2017 at 10:49 am - Reply

    I listened to this interview on Facebook and then again when it was released on the website. Here are my comments:

    1. Once again, John gets the interviews everyone wants. Lex is an icon in modern Mormon culture. After hearing the first missionary discussion as a 15-year-old I was taken to a performance of Saturday’s Warrior at Phoenix Symphony Hall. I was amazed. It helped me make the decision to be baptized. (I imagine it was an excellent missionary tool at the time. It gave me the impression that Mormonism was bigger than it really actually was in 1978. Something I needed to be a part of.)

    2. I wondered how the listeners in Mormon Stories Land would respond to the interview after listening to it a few times. Lex sounded like many LDS members who are creative, spiritual, and introspective. He commonly used many of the “cute” Mormon phrases to describe his feelings about Mormonism, Mormon culture, and Mormon leaders. He sounded very New Order Mormon.

    3. “Signing Time” helped me learn to communicate with my non-verbal daughter. Thank you, Lex, and thank you, Rachel.

    4. It’s tough putting yourself out there for a Mormon Stories interview, especially one that is being filmed. I give Lex and every other person who’s done it props for going through the process. Sharing the story of your life on camera in real time would be terrifying to me.

  8. Mike September 21, 2017 at 6:56 pm - Reply

    Great interview John. While I approach things differently to Lex, he offers a valuable and useful view on things. I don’t think that we should discount his views. He is entitled to his position, ie to look at the big picture – Love.

  9. clh September 21, 2017 at 7:40 pm - Reply

    Wow, so inspiring. Thank you–probably the wisest and richest Mormon Stories podcast I have listened to.
    FYI, couplet attributed to Lorenzo Snow.
    Really like the new music and introduction/close to the podcast. Thank you Lex and John!

  10. Craig Clark September 21, 2017 at 10:35 pm - Reply

    I think Secular Buddhism would be a perfect fit for Lex. He could get all the beauty, Loving kindness, compassion and more without the collateral damage and mental gymnastics of Mormonism.

  11. Jim J Jimson September 22, 2017 at 12:28 am - Reply

    He’s really a music guy, “Whole lotta love” by Ied Zeppelin could help a lot there I think

  12. min-shaft September 22, 2017 at 9:48 am - Reply

    My take of the interview…

    1) Lex experienced a bonding with the church during a difficult, lonely and critical time in his life. I have many friends in the church like this, who, when presented with the historical problems, ignore it, don’t allow themselves to be intellectually honest and maintain their fierce loyalty to the church because of what it did for them.

    2) Because of Lex’s emotional dependency on the church he really hasn’t spent a lot of time going through the issues in great detail (i.e. DNA/archeaology issues, Book of Abraham, literature used by Joseph Smith to produce the BofM, origins of the Endowment). While he claims he read Fawn Browdie, as John asked follow up questions regarding lack of horses, steel, DNA, etc, you could tell he doesn’t know any of the details of these subjects, nor does he want to know, because it threatens his his emotional depedance on the church and what it did for him.

    3) He engages in many circular arguments as a result of 1 and 2 above. He wants to say all religions are good, but won’t refute D&C 1:30 that the church is the only true and living church on the face of the earth. So, he’s holding onto incompatible views in order to protect his emotional dependance on the church.

    4) As an artistic person, he suffers from thinking everything that pops into his head comes from God or is revelation/inspiration. I wonder if articist minds feel this way more than others. I can see how easy it would be to have his talents, slave away at writing music and then to have things just seem to come to him. Given he’s LDS it would only be natural based on what the church has trained him to think, that it’s not coming from him, his practicing, long hours thinking about things, much trial and error, into thinking it’s actually coming from somewhere besides him.

    5) Lex is dependent on the church not just emotionally, but financially. He made a living off Saturday’s Warrior and his record company. So, when it comes time to correct the doctrinal errors in Saturday’s Warrior he’s prone to ignore the issues due to the financial situation he’s in. It’s no different than a pharmaceutical rep that knows their product doesn’t do what he’s telling his clients it does, or worse, that it’s actually dangerous, but keeps on selling it because his family needs the money.

    I’m really happy that John got him to do an interview. It has been a long time since I sat and listened to a nuanced believing member of the church. Doing so was like looking in the mirror at myself ten years ago as I struggled to hold onto my belief in the church while I was finally being honest with myself and looking at the problems. It’s a reminder of how far I’ve come and gave me great gratitude that I no longer make these kinds of excuses, logical fallacies, justifications and that I’m free from all this mind-numbing fake crap. Amen.

    • min-shaft September 22, 2017 at 12:30 pm - Reply

      One more thought I had while listening….

      6) He feels Saturdays Warrior came from God, yet the brethren stated much of what was in there is not doctrinal. We all know the impact Saturdays Warrior had on LDS culture and popular (not official) theology. My wife was one of those who got her Patriarchal Blessing in the 80’s after SW had taken hold of LDS thought/beliefs. Her blessing stated she chose her family and spouse in the pre-existence, which are non-doctrinal concepts the brethren spoke out against after SW came out. I’m sure thousands of Patriarchal Blessings had these kinds of things in them after SW. So, here’s the issue for Lex, does he feel God revealed new truths to the members of the church through Saturdays Warrior, despite the brethren saying those concepts are false and non-doctrinal? Isn’t that the same as claiming to be a prophet?

  13. Tamra September 22, 2017 at 10:26 am - Reply

    My frustration with good people like Lex de Azevedo is that I am assuming that with some of his remarks about ex-communication that he really hasn’t heard of the numerous heart breaking stories of ex-communication and still be able to say that he feels that is a court of love.

  14. Kristopher September 22, 2017 at 10:48 am - Reply

    By this shall man know ye are my disciples if ye have love one to another.
    What’s that ? You’re a person of color? Then you are not worthy to sit at the table. What’s that? You’re a Protestant pioneer traveling in Deseret, then you are not worthy to sit at the table. What’s that ? You and/or your parent(s) are not heterosexual? Then you are not worthy to sit at the table. Thank you “Brethren” you have demonstrated to me and many others that you are not Christ’s disciples. Not to mention all the history I learned after I left the Church due to the pain you caused me to be ye therefore perfect. Mormonism = Abuse

  15. beth September 22, 2017 at 1:51 pm - Reply

    Thank you lex for a very interesting interview, but l have to disagree and suggest that its needs to be acknowledged that the core doctrines and truth claims of the church cannot hold up to scrutiny and have been proven not to be true through proof and evidence, which should be taken more seriously because so much damage has been caused in the Mormon church because of these false core teachings and these need to be recorgnised and acknowledged, but your interview was very good none the less, thank you lex and john, keep them coming.

  16. Bob September 22, 2017 at 2:13 pm - Reply

    “Some people online are asking me to push back on what you’re saying, but that’s not what we do on Mormon Stories”

    I mean, I get it that some people try to create conflict and enjoy witnessing a fight just for the sake of drama. I don’t think that politely and gently challenging guests is the same as making drama for its own sake. It would be more illuminating and more worthwhile to hear some pushback so Lex could defend his beliefs.

  17. Dale Lowry September 22, 2017 at 5:47 pm - Reply

    Great interview. I loved hearing from Lex de Azevedo about his spiritual journey and life. Still, it was physically painful to hear him repeatedly dismiss concerns about issues like racism and sexism as worldly and petty, missing the bigger picture.

    The bigger picture is that we’re all children of God, and if we categorically treat others like they are less than, we are not treating them as children of God. We’re stealing from them opportunities to learn and progress that come relatively easily to others. Lex talked about being privileged in the sense of the time, place, and family he was born into. I’d add that his sex and perceived whiteness helped a
    lot as well—after all, if he’d looked black, he wouldn’t have been sent on a mission in the first place, and I don’t think it’s a big leap to conclude that his looking white played a role in him staing on his mission once he discovered he moght have a great-grandparent of African descent.

    Can he not see that others are disadvantaged for the same things—Race, sex, where they were born, who were they born to? And it’s not God disadvantaging them. It’s the prejudice of others, including people of faith. That’s a sin, and it’s not petty and missing the bigger picture to be upset about it, or to try to change it, or call people to repentance over it.

    This isn’t meant as an attack on Lex. It’s just a frustration I have with everyone who downplays the suffering of others.

  18. DavidVA September 22, 2017 at 7:24 pm - Reply

    I grew up with Saturday’s Warrior as well,…in the 70s …in So. California…saw the original cast just afer my mission and was moved by it. I performed the music several times in a music group at stake and regional dances. I loved it and especially the music but I later saw some of the negative effects of it. Lex says it wasn’t meant to be doctrinal but members and impressionable teens and young adults certainly took it to be. A few weeks after seeing it, one of my best friends told the younger LDS girl he liked that he had had a revelation that they knew each other in the pre-existence and were supposed to marry. She was a cute, attractive, impressionable LDS obedient, humble girl and who was she to question a priesthood holder. My friend encouraged her to pray about it and she got a confirmation that she should marry him. People encouraged her not too but she went ahead. They had 9 children and the marriage was always terrible, eventually they divorced. I’m sure these are not the only lives that were negatively effected by the false ideas in S.W. that were taken literally. I love Lex de Azevedo and loved the interview, but he doesn’t seem to be aware of the damage his musical and false narrative caused in so many lives and minds. Knowing each other in the pre-existence, soul mates, having all the children we can because spirits will go to the wrong family if we don’t, the pitying of someone who chooses to leave the faith and depicting those who do as causing their families to be broken for eternity. All of these false ideas caused harm to many. If I met Lex, I would certainly like him and give him and big hug and would love to be his friend, but I wish he would at least acknowledge that his play could have benefitted from some warnings about taking it too literally.

  19. Q September 23, 2017 at 5:36 pm - Reply

    Awesome interview and fascinating story.

    It’s not clear to me what he was trying to imply with his condemnations of terrorism and beheadings. Who exactly is he accusing of condoning it? Muslims? Secularists? Liberals? I think there are few other than the terrorists themselves who would justify what he was condemning.

  20. Phil September 24, 2017 at 5:04 am - Reply

    SW was such horrid peurile tripe,

  21. Andrew September 24, 2017 at 6:33 am - Reply

    Very interesting interview, a real celeb Mormom Story . Thank you Lex for sharing and John for your good work. I grew up and was a teenager during the Saturday’s Warrior craze. It Utah county it was presented as gospel and presented to us several times. I still enjoy the message and the music.

    I appreciate Lex being open and vulnerable with us. and thank him again for that. If I do the same, I have had many of the same or similar spiritual experiences he has had. They are with me, my faith is in tact, I do not deny them, but where we differ is the truth matters to me when it comes to our history and doctrine. The lies that continue to be perpetuated by the leaders are deal breakers to me. Allowing these men to rule almost every aspect of my life will never happen again. I occasionally greve at the 42 lost years I gave everything to them. I was a Taliban Mormon for sure.

    I am happy every day I am out and enjoying life free of the control and abuse. BTW, Sundays are now great.

  22. Matthew Turner September 25, 2017 at 4:40 am - Reply

    A very interesting interview, but also very difficult to listen to at times. Toward the end (the part on disciplinary councils), I found myself yelling at my device and had to take a break. Thank you, Brother Lex, for sharing your story. And thank you, Brother John, for letting him say his peace and biting your own tongue at times. His words speak for themselves.

    • Matthew Turner September 25, 2017 at 4:43 am - Reply

      Oops. I guess the idiom is to speak one’s “piece.” But Lex was speaking his peace, too, so whatever. Lol.

  23. joy September 26, 2017 at 5:59 pm - Reply

    Great interview John. I’m sure it was very hard to bite your tongue at times and just let him speak and you did an amazing job. You’re always respectful yet, ask the perfect questions. I’ll keep this short but I couldn’t stop thinking that I felt bad for Lex. Obviously he is an intelligent guy but the GUILT that he carries with him seems to be so crazy intense. He kept referring to himself as a guy who has made mistakes etc. This is what I really don’t like about the Mormon church. Why is the guilt so intense? Yes, he has been married 3 times-he is not perfect but that is okay, nobody is perfect. He seems to be a great dad. The other part I could not help but notice over and over again is the mental gymnastics. Holy smokes.. one minute he would say that he has a gay brother and knows a lot about it but then as soon as John questioned him further about his feelings about gays and the church, he immediately changed his tune and claimed he really didn’t know that much about things. Really?? He knew quite a bit but then when the questions got more direct, he would claim he really didn’t know and pulled the “do we really know anything card”. It’s amazing how he just skirted a fine line where he didn’t want to look bad but then he didn’t want to contradict the church. Wow. usually dodging direct questions or going into the “does anybody really know what’s next” mode would really annoy me but I just kept thinking that mentally he was too dependent on his “inner spiritual feelings” to address reality. I’m sorry he has to feel so much guilt as well, nobody should carry such a heavy load.

  24. Emma September 27, 2017 at 10:27 pm - Reply

    John it seems that the people you interview fall into one of three categories

    1. People who don’t want to know the ugly truth about the church and who stay active
    2. People who do know the disturbing truth about the church and stay active
    3. And people who know the disturbing truth of the church and leave

    And I think it is the second group that is living with the most inner discord—pretending to Believe in something that their heart tells them is wrong

    I’m sure that lex does know the ugly truth about the church and yet he stays active

    He didn’t want to talk about the doctrine or how the church has hurt people so deeply especially his own brother and granddaughter–i’m disappointed that he won’t take a stand and defend those he loves against the rejection of the church

    I was thoroughly disgusted at his insensitivity to the whole process of excommunication and that he stated it didn’t seem to really disturb the people that he excommunicated and it didn’t disturb him to do it I was sick and that he said it was A loving experience it was it was pure BS
    how could anybody be so insensitive?
    He says it’s all about loving others like Christ said and yet excommunication is blatantly rejection
    Lex you can’t have it both ways!!!!!!

    He wants to be on both sides of the fence
    When he says he only focuses on loving others he is ignoring the doctrine

    Let’s face it —like other famous people in the church he has a lot to lose by leaving at or taking a stand against the hurtful doctrine

    Who he is …….as well as his sense of purpose and value … reflected in his standing among church members and the admiration and respect they give him

    Like others he has a financial investment as well as a social standing and esteem that he gets from active members of the church and the leaders as well
    It seems as though he probably has a closer relationship with the leaders than we know——-

    It seemed he was very careful not to be forthright and avoided being clear about his opinions about doctrine history and policy —-so as not to incur the wrath of the leaders

    he’s part of the good old boys club

    He has a lot to lose and I think it is too much for him to do that even if he knows the disturbing truth

    Lex has been used to some type of fame most of his life
    He’s not ready to give up his fame in the church to admit the lies and ugliness of the doctrine, history, and current policy

    I don’t believe he’s being authentic or true to himself or even being honest

    It takes a lot of courage to stand for truth when you are giving up so much —your fame —your financial support—- and all that you put your life into

    But come on lex–stand up -/for those you love–see the truth–and have the courage to admit it’s wrong

  25. Scott Jones September 27, 2017 at 11:01 pm - Reply

    John Dehlin, you interview Lex, and you didn’t even take the time to watch the new film? C’mon, man! Wow, I’m disappointed. Lol! I kid.

    All that aside, a fun interview. Lex is a typical artist type Mormon from the 70s. They seem to be comfortable with being vague with Mormonism (spiritualism without the rigid McConkie iron fist), etc.. but don’t seem to know why they do so many of the cultural Mormon stuff: correlated modern Mormonism that lived with the clean version of Joseph Smith’s monogamy with Emma, no seer stone, and an ignorant bliss of all that plagues the new generation of young adult Mormons. Oh to be a Mormon in the blissful ignorance of the 80s and 90s version of polished Mormonism. Guys like Lex seem oblivious to all the complications now riddling LDS church doctrines, history, scriptures, policies, and culture.

  26. cl_rand September 29, 2017 at 9:23 am - Reply

    Wow, talk about intellectual gymnastics. That was torturous.

  27. Dave September 30, 2017 at 12:55 am - Reply


    Great interview most of these commenters on here are of low intellect & have zero enlighten understanding of the realms beyond this world.

    You clearly held back the deeper personal knowledge you have learned by the things which you have suffered. For the measure of a man or woman is not the fame they attained or the success they had in life or the wealth they acquired. No the true measure of a man or woman in this life is measured in the things they suffered & overcame in the depths of dispair the agony of endless pain that teaches the greatest lessons in the schools of the Gods. It is by our mistakes or sins if you will that the greatest lessons are learned in this world. Those who play it safe have the perfect life & have all the i-s dotted & T-s crossed will be so much farther behind those who have the harder suffering lot in life. You Lex De Azevedo required both & you have gone into deeper waters that is part of your agreed to life plan. God used your emotions to exact a toll upon you to extract the result that was to teach you the lessons you demanded learning! To both extremes Fame, fortune & power to losing it all into suffering loss of status & an emotionally broke life trying to put your life back together. It was here in your suffering you learn so much. It was here you needed God & he came to you it was here where you learned to love & found peace.

    GodBless you Lex

    • Jay October 1, 2017 at 9:33 pm - Reply

      “You clearly held back the deeper personal knowledge you have learned by the things which you have suffered.”

      Maybe that’s why the explanations were a little confusing. Maybe one more interview with the deeper meat is in order.

  28. Don October 1, 2017 at 4:09 pm - Reply

    An amazing interview… Thanks Lex for sharing where your interesting life has taken you and what you have learned in the process. I really appreciate that the significant positive contribution of the Church in your life came through loud and clear, while, at the same time not challenging the historical problems etc. that have come to light recently and doing so in a non-defensive manner. As a life-long member of the Church who has been around even longer than you have, I share your perspective. Thanks to you and John for the enlightening discussion.

  29. Rigel Hawthorne October 10, 2017 at 6:27 pm - Reply

    As someone with a fair amount of musical talent (thanks mom), it is always fascinating to hear a life story from someone with, what I would call,megatalent. On top of that megatalent, Mr. de Azevado is very charismatic and eloquently spoken–and the criticism he has fielded over the years steeled him well for the typical Dehlin battery, which he responded to with integrity, though obviously many of the podcast listeners will not be happy he was given a podium.

    Like John, I was disappointed with the answers about what each one of the SW songs means to him. Rather than his drawing on the technical composition experience, I would rather have had him focus on how the music and lyrics moved him and what he intended to convey to the audience with them. Got a little of that with his discussion of Sailing On.

    I would have liked to have heard a little more about his collaboration with Carol Lynn Pearson. Also about the ‘failure’ of “Threads of Glory”. My family was not quick enough to get us tickets to see SW in the original tour, so they decided to get tickets to “Threads of Glory” the tour of which followed SW. It was a let down. One of my mission companions had the same experience of missing SW and being let down by Threads of Glory, so we shared that recollection of a musical that most people have forgotten.

    For the commenters who feel like his success was handed to him–in between the lines of his being connected is a ton of hard, sleep-depriving, anxiety-provoking work. And to have this interview followed by one with John Hamer, you’ve got me looking at MormonStories again.

  30. Lilli October 15, 2017 at 12:30 pm - Reply

    Wonderful and very enjoyable!

    The basic concepts in Saturday’s Warrior’ are true , even though the Church isn’t. That’s why it’s so moving and loved. It speaks to our soul. (Pre-existence where we chose our family, spouse, etc, and importance of love and family and that families are forever (all families, no matter what religion they are))

    For every mortal believes and is inspired by a mix of truth and error, the test is finding the errors we believe.

    I agree that unconditional love is God’s and Christ’s way and what we are here to learn, but unfortunately the Church doesn’t and hasn’t follow that or Christ’s teachings.

    Christ taught to discern truth by facts (behavior & natural law) not feelings or peace (emotions), for we can find more happiness and peace in this life doing wrong than doing right.

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