Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures

Signs of the Times.
By Tony Alamo, World Pastor.

Webmaster's note.

[2001]: "World Pastor" Tony Alamo has been a controversial figure locally ever since the 1960s when he changed his name from Bernie Lazar Hoffman, abandoned his Jewish upbringing and established his Christian compound in Saugus. Some praise him for bringing the word of God to the downtrodden of inner-city Los Angeles and for doing good works in the community; for example, Alamo (prounounced "a-LAH-mo") and his followers, colloquially known as "Alamos," built the Canyon High School football stadium in 1968. Others see Alamo as a cult leader who brainwashes his disciples, and as a criminal; he went to prison for income-tax evasion after the Tony and Susan Alamo Foundation's tax-exempt status was revoked. (It was determined that his manufacture of the Tony Alamo-brand of high-priced, sequined denim jackets consituted a business subject to income tax, and that his workers — his followers — were inadequately compensated.) Nonetheless, into the 21st Century, the Alamo Christian Ministries continue to operate the Saugus compound in Mint Canyon (technically Agua Dulce), in addition to the organization's newer headquarters in Arkansas; and Alamo's disciples continue to spread their leader's anti-Catholic doctrine in many nations and on car doors throughout Los Angeles-area parking lots.

Tony Alamo is a unique and unusual component of the Santa Clarita Valley's late-20th-century history. The articles that appear here are presented precisely because they are the primary-source documents. They are local history.

Update: Hoffman, alias Alamo, was convicted in 2009 of transporting children across state lines for sexual purposes. He received a 175-year federal prison sentence. He died May 3, 2017, in a prison hospital in North Carolina.

I took the name of Tony Alamo a lot of years ago as a professional singer. The Italians were all making it as crooners at that time. (If the craze would have been for Oriental singers, my name would probably be Yak Sukiyaki.) I was born Bernie Lazar Hoffman; I am a Jew. My family were not particularly religious people. My father, an immigrant from Rumania, kept some of the Jewish tradition when we were very young, but in the part of the states where I was raised, there were very few Jews. We were continuously warned not to say we were Jews; to tell them in school that we were Rumanians. My mother and father said they would beat us up. To me, like all other Jews, Jesus Christ was the God of the Gentiles. He was an imposter, and it was because of Him that Jews had been tortured and killed. I was told that the Gentile kids were Christians. That was why they would beat me up if they knew I was a Jew. That they blamed the Jews for killing Him. When I was a child I thought this was strange, since I did not even know Jesus or anything about Him, that I could in a way be responsible for Him. My father was a very talented man. He had been dance instructor for Rudolf Valentino and he also was a very talented artist.

As I grew up some of my friends were Gentiles whom I thought to be Christians. They drank in the same cocktail lounges I drank in, had the same thieving business practices I had, committed the same sins I committed, and if Jesus was their God and hadn't done any more for them than He had done, then I didn't need Jesus. I had enough problems of my own. I did not believe in God, much less Jesus Christ. My philosophy of life was, make all the money I could, do what I wanted to do, when I wanted to do it, without any regard for anyone. To me life was vile. The more money I made, the more grief I had. Money never bought me not even one moment of peace. The more I had, the more miserable I was.

I had absolutely no respect for women at all. Every one I encountered was worse than the one before. I actually hated them and decided that for some reason I had been put here to punish them, because they were so evil. All my former friends break up now when they see little five-foot-two Susan bossing me around, and believe me, I listen and love it!

I know Jesus Christ is real. I know He is the Messiah. I know He is coming back to earth again. I know it because God told me so. Jesus was so far removed from my life; my sins were as the sands of the sea.

I went from crooner into the health studio business. I was vice-president in charge of promotion for a very large health studio chain. We had seventy-five studios in the States and Canada. I ducked in and out of the motion picture and music industry down through the years, cutting records myself to fit the trend of music, whatever it was. I put together "Oldie but Goodie" albums, bought out top radio and television time, and made a fortune out of them way back there. Now there is no big money in them. I managed and promoted stars, top ones. I would pick up complete unknowns, manage and promote them to big stars.

It was on or during one of these big promotional extravaganzas that I met Jesus of Nazareth, my Lord. My mind was so far removed from anything concerning God the day he turned my whole world upside down. I had picked up a boy singer, a complete unknown, and did a gigantic promotion on him. I had him booked to all the top television shows.

I was driving around town in a chauffeur driven limousine with a police escort and an entourage of seventeen people, putting the world on a trip. I had a barber, a bodyguard, a nurse, and all sorts of "yes" men. If I went to a hot dog stand, or a motion picture premiere, I went with the limousines, chauffeurs, cops, and the whole regalia. The bodyguard would open the door, throw down a big velvet pillow; we would step into the velvet pillow. The barber would comb our hair, the nurse take our pulse. One of the fellows would spray us with cologne, another strew flowers in our path, and the cops would stand at attention. Where did I get the cops, the chauffeurs and the limousines? I rented them from a funeral parlor for a hundred bucks a day.

I had spent so much money on promotional ads and on keeping the entourage of seventeen people that my expenses were running into thousands of dollars a day and I needed money. My attorney told me some of the super stars had invested money in a holding firm and they were interested in investing money in my campaign. Would I meet with them and their attorneys? At first I said no. "I have a hit record, the record distributors owe me money. Within thirty to forty-five days I will have all the money I need." My attorney said, "Tony, the way you spend money, there is no way you can survive thirty to forty-five days." I ranted and raved. "Sure they will put up the dough. I have the star made. I've done all the work. Why wouldn't they take the frosted cake for a million bucks?" "Well, Tony," he reasoned, "don't sell half of him." I agreed to see them and offer five percent for fifty thousand. Little did I know what was waiting for me that day.

The black limousines lined up, the police escort went into formation, and we cruised down the streets with motorists and pedestrians gaping, wondering who the dignitaries were. We cruised over to the attorneys office. The police lined up the limousines, the chauffeurs opened the doors, and we got out of the limos and went up one flight of stairs to the attorney's offices in Beverly Hills. The offices were packed. The motion pictures stars were there, their attorneys and, of course, my seventeen people.

The attorney representing the investment firm was a little Jewish man. He came forward rubbing his hands and smiling. "Tony Alamo," he said, "I have been wanting to meet you. This is the greatest promotion I have ever seen in all my years in the industry. It is an extravaganza," he exclaimed, sweeping the wall with a gesture, and I saw he had the whole promotion laid out on his wall, still rubbing his hands and smiling as we sat down. "Now," he said, "I understand you boys need money." I was getting ready to haggle with him, and I thought to myself, "I have one up on him. He thinks I am Italian and I know he is Jewish." I answered him with, "Well, I don't need as much money as you had originally offered."

Suddenly my ears went completely deaf. I could not hear any noise from the crowd in the room. We were only one floor up, yet I could not hear any noise from the street. I looked at the people in the room. Some of their mouths were moving, but I could not hear anything they were saying. Suddenly I heard a voice; a voice that came from every direction. It was all around me. It was going through every fiber of my being. My head, my arms, my legs; it was all around me. The voice said, "I AM THE LORD THY GOD. STAND UP ON YOUR FEET AND TELL THE PEOPLE IN THIS ROOM THAT JESUS CHRIST IS COMING BACK TO EARTH, OR THOU SHALT SURELY DIE."

I looked around the room to see if someone was putting me on some kind of a trip and they were all looking at me. I felt as if I were sealed into some sort of gigantic vacuum. I thought, "I am going crazy. I'm losing my mind. Yes, that's it, I'm cracking up." People had told me I was a genius, and geniuses often cracked up, so that was it. So I would get out of here before I made a fool of myself.

I stood to my feet and said, "I am ill." The giant pressure that was upon me forced me back into my seat and the voice as many waters flooded all around and through me again. "I AM THE LORD THY GOD. STAND UP ON YOUR FEET AND TELL THE PEOPLE IN THIS ROOM THAT JESUS CHRIST IS COMING BACK TO EARTH AGAIN OR THOU SHALT SURELY DIE."

I struggled to my feet again, and took one step. As I did, God started playing with my soul like a yo-yo. He would pull it half out of me, and then put it back. My heart was palpitating so hard it felt as if it was going to jump out of my body, and suddenly a revelation came to me, so real I was astounded that I had not always known it. I knew there was a heaven and a hell! I started screaming to the top of my lungs, "No, God, No! Please don't kill me... I'll tell them! I'll tell them! I'll tell them!" The breath went back into my body and my heart stopped jumping.

I said, "God, you don't know these people like I do. They won't believe me. But I'll tell them. I'll call them all on the phone, send them telegrams, anything. But please don't make me do it here, they will think I'm crazy." Again he started pulling the soul out of me. My heart was jumping out of my body. I was gasping for breath. "No, God, no...please," I began screaming, "I'll do it, I'll do it. I'll tell them." Again my breath went back in my body, my heart stopped thumping.

I looked at the people in the room. They were all staring at me with eyes as big as owls. "I know you won't believe me," I said, "But God is telling me to tell you that Jesus Christ is coming back to earth." Now, I said to myself, I said it. Oops, again my soul started going in and out, again, gasping for breath. "What's the matter God? I said it, I told them." Suddenly every promotion I had ever done in my life was laid out before me in block form. The enthusiasm I had built and sold a star or a product with. And the Lord said, "NOW THAT YOU KNOW I AM HERE, IS THAT THE BEST YOU CAN DO FOR ME?"

"I know you won't believe me, but Jesus Christ is coming back to earth again." This time when I looked at the group of people, they all looked so small to me, and I really wound up with all enthusiasm. "Repent," I screamed. "Jesus is coming!" I had never read a Bible scripture in my life. I had seen the picture, "Elmer Gantry", and I commanded everyone in the room to get down on their knees and repent immediately, that Jesus was coming. I thought that if I did not do a good job, they would all disintegrate before my eyes and I would disintegrate for not doing a good enough job.

The vacuum around me began to lift and my hearing was returning, and the Lord said, "THAT'S ENOUGH." My attorney grabbed one of my swinging arms and said, "Tony, Tony, what's the matter with you?" The little Jewish attorney almost backed out of the window. Papers were flying all over the room (I had knocked his spindle off the desk). "Get him out of here," he screamed, "He's nuts! I thought for a moment, how can I blame him? If someone had come into my office and done the same thing I had just done, I possibly would have thrown them out of the window.

I walked out of the office with all of my entourage following me. My bodyguard (who later went with Sonny and Cher) was laughing so hard he was falling down the hall. "Tony," he said, "what's the matter? Didn't you dig the cat? Man, he'll wind up in straight jacket over that scene." The more I tried to explain to them that God had talked to me the more they laughed. "Come on, Tony, put them on a trip, but, man, don't try to put us on it." As I got to the foot of the stairs, there was the funeral limousines lined up. "Oh, my God," I thought, "the last thing I want to see is this mess." I made them all get in the cars.

I wanted to walk. I wanted to be alone. As I walked along, I looked up into the sky. "Dear God," I said, "now that I know you are there, just tell me what you want me to do. I will do anything you say." No answers. I thought, "Maybe God wants me to go to church. Yes, that's it. I will go to church."

I picked the biggest one. I thought the biggest one should know the most. I went in and talked to the priest. I told him what happened to me. The priest said to just keep it in my heart to be baptized. This infuriated me. To think that God had told me that Jesus was coming, and here is a man of God telling me to keep it in my heart to be baptized. "Look," I said, "I am a promoter, I know my business. If you ask me how to promote a product, I will give you a positive way to promote it. You are supposed to be a man of God. You tell me about God." This priest was later filled with the Spirit and is now preaching the gospel, but he had no answers for me then.

I went from one church to another, but found no one preaching the powerful message that God had given to me. One by one I left each church, more depressed than I had been before. I felt that I was the only person in the world that knew the truth, that Jesus was really coming.

I had left all my business, I was broke. I took what money that came in and paid off debts. I couldn't work. I was afraid that God would come down on me again in front of people. I was desperate and I was confused. I did not know what to do; I went to my room. There was an old Gideon Bible laying. I opened it and read, "Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled." "Oh, God," I cried, "that's me. I am hungry for truth." Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth." "Oh, God," I cried, "I have never been meek, but now I am broke. Now I am in this shabby room. Maybe I qualify now." As I read the words of the Bible, I knew every word of it was truth. I felt the same Spirit I felt that day in the office, and I knew that God had come down on the prophets, the disciples, the apostles, in the same way He had come down on me in that office that day, by the power of the Holy Spirit, and told them what to write.

I felt the power of the Holy Spirit deep in my heart and soul. I found the plan of Salvation. How we must ask God for forgiveness of our sins and ask Jesus to come into our hearts. I cried out to God to forgive me of my sins. My life had been so filled with sin. I asked Jesus to come into my heart and make me a new creature. God gave me a vision of hell. I cried out, "God, don't let me go there." Then He gave me a vision of heaven. I saw myself little, naked, kneeling before God. I was so peaceful I never wanted to leave. There I was, at His feet, I was afraid to open my eyes. I know if I did, I would be looking into the face of Jesus, and I was afraid to look Him in the face. Then I saw a large illuminated cross and stars bursting, thousands of them, and angels singing. The Spirit of God entered into my body and I knew beyond any shadow of doubt I passed from death into life. God broke my heart into a million pieces and I lay on the floor with tears streaming down my face, and my body rocking in sobs, but I knew I was saved. Bernie Lazar Hoffman, a.k.a. Tony Alamo, was a changed creature. I took a shower, changed my clothes and walked out into the rain. How wonderful it felt. The skies were different, the world had changed. I had peace for the first time in my life. Peace that money could not buy.

I walked for hours in the rain, then I walked into a restaurant. My Susan was sitting there. Susie and I had known each other for years, but she wouldn't have anything to do with me. The most she would ever say to me was hello and goodbye. I had tried to talk to her before but she wouldn't talk to me. I always knew there was something very different about her. I walked over to the booth where she was sitting and asked her if I could sit with her. To my surprise she said yes. I sat down and ordered my coffee. She looked straight across the table at me with those big, black eyes and said, "Tony, do you know that the Lord Jesus Christ is coming back to earth again?" "Susie, Susie," I said, "Did you say that? Are there more of us? Are we supposed to meet somewhere? How did you know? Did God come and tell you, too?" "Tony, she said, "it says it all the way through the Bible." "Show it to me."

Susan began reading the Bible to me ten, twelve, fourteen hours a day, and explaining it to me as she read. I could not hear enough. I was like a sponge. "Please, Tony," she would beg me, "go home, I am so tired, I must sleep." I would go back to my room and just wait for her to sleep so I could go back. When I thought my Bible teacher had slept enough, I went over and rang the bell until she got up. Then I started gathering all the people I could find to take with me to learn about God also.

Susie took me with her when she went to churches to preach. I began to realize that I was desperately and completely in love with my teacher. I began to cry out to God from the depths of my heart and soul for God to give her to me. "Oh, God, please," I begged, "I have made such a mess out of my life. This is the only women I have ever loved in my life. Please God, please give her to me." Sue obviously didn't know I was living. She paid no attention to me whatsoever, other than by Bible lessons and going to church, and that was always in a group. I was so miserable. I was so afraid she would catch me looking at her and know I was in love with her and tell me not to come back.

Susie was fasting and praying for God to send a great revival. I started fasting and praying even harder for God to give me Susie, and God spoke to Susie's heart in a very supernatural way, and she became my wife. The minister who married us said, "I have been in the ministry for many years, and I have married a lot of couples, but I have never felt the Spirit of God as powerfully as I felt it with you two. God has something great ahead for you."

I went back and did another big promotion in the world. I believe God allowed me to do it to prove to the industry that I was not crazy. After that scene in the office, it had circulated through the industry like wildfire that Alamo had cracked up. The Lord let me prove to the world that I had all my mental faculties. I took a classical singer who was earning ninety bucks a week, a complete unknown, during a hard rock phase of music. Ninety days later he was a superstar, booked into the Dunes Hotel at $15,000 a week, on a graduating scale.

I bought a home in Malibu. Susan begged me not to buy it. "Tony," she would say, "people are dying by the thousands, and they are lost. Please, let's just give up everything and go out and preach the gospel." "Look, honey," I said, "God gave me a brain, let me use it. Let me make money. I'll buy radio and television time. We will get the gospel out." Susan would say, "Tony, God doesn't want your money, He wants your heart."

Every time we would drive up Hollywood Boulevard or Sunset Boulevard Susie would look at the hippie kids roaming the streets. "Look, Tony," she would say, "there they are. There is the harvest field. It is ripe, but no one will go. No one will take the position of the lowly Nazarene." "Look," I said, "You don't know about those kinds of kids. They are so spaced out they wouldn't know what you were saying." "No," she would say, "but I know Jesus." The hippies became a barb between us and I tried to avoid the Strip or the Boulevard as much as possible. I tried to reason with her, "Look, Honey," I said, "everything you want to do is wrong, believe me. Do you think any of the people I have promoted would ever have made it if I had stood on a corner with a little handful of paper, handing them out? Believe me, it won't work. Let me make money and I will show you how to get the gospel out."

Susie began to pray for me to go broke and I began to lose everything I had. If I started to the bank to make a deposit, it cost me money before I got there. It didn't bother Susie at all. Every time I mentioned that I was going broke, she said, "Praise the Lord," Finally I figured it out. She was praying for me to go broke! She hated that house in Malibu, she hated the new expensive furniture in it. She wanted to go out into the streets with the hippies, and that was that.

One evening, coming home from a service, she delivered an ultimatum to me. She was going out into the streets to the hippies and I could go or stay. I knew she meant what she said. I begged, I persuaded, I tried to reason; she paid no attention to anything. She went and got some little gospel tracts, marked them with our telephone number, called a group of kids we had won for Christ and said, "Saturday night we are going to the streets." What could I do? I could not see her go out there alone. She might get killed. I begged. "God, please Lord, show her how wrong she is. Don't let her do this." But every time I took it to God something was happening. God wasn't telling her she was wrong, he was telling me I was wrong.

So we went to the streets, me very reluctantly, and here is where the Jesus Movement began. You hear a lot today of where the Jesus Movement started. I can tell you all about it. Many people have tried to take the credit for the great revival that has swept the world, but believe me, there was no one else in the streets when Susan and I first went out there. The kids were singing songs that "God was dead," "Burn Down the Churches," "Kill the Pigs," "Kill the Establishment."

At first we had no church. We financed our own ministry. We took the kids home with us, fed them. Many of them were half-dead. Dying of drug addiction and malnutrition. We led them to Christ Jesus, saw them filled with the Spirit and grounded them in the word of God.

Since we started the work we have seen many other youth groups spring up. Some are good, some are bad. Some of them are nothing more than Communistic counter groups, designed to destroy the faith of the youth in God, teaching young people that they can smoke pot, drop acid, commit adultery, do their own thing. They all operate under the banner of "God is Love." Beware of the "God is Love" movement. What they are really saying is that God is permissive. Grace to these groups means sin. We teach our young people that God is a Holy God and when they speak of Him to do so with all reverence. To compare the Spirit of God to an acid or pot trip is blaspheming the Holy Spirit. Check carefully into the Jesus Movements before you become involved. Opportunist have gotten in like they get into every move of God: to pervert the gospel and make merchandise of it. As Susie says, "You don't buy a gospel work, you build it up on that solid rock, Christ Jesus."

The Jesus Movement did not just happen. It was not started by some youth with psychedelic lights flashing in his head. The price has been high. Oh, my God, so high. Higher than human flesh wants to pay. It came with blood, sweat and tears. I am glad that the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the eternal everlasting keeper of the Lamb's Book of Life, knows where and when and how the Jesus Movement began and that he saw my sweetheart, as she went into the street with cancer eating through her body and took the gospel to the hippies.

You know something? Susie is so smart! She was right! Jesus is the greatest promoter in the world. He said, "If I be lifted up, I will draw all men unto me." Yes, even with paper bags filled with little gospel tracts.

Jesus wants to draw you near to him right now and you can know Christ like Susie and I do. Yes, this very moment all you have to do is repeat this prayer to God and you'll feel the Spirit of God enter your mortal body. Say it right now, and you'll see that he will.

My Lord and my God, have mercy upon my soul, a sinner. I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of the living God. I believe that He died on the cross and shed His precious blood for the forgiveness of all my sins. I believe that God raised Jesus from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit and that He sits on the right hand of God at this moment, hearing my confession of sin and this prayer. I open up the door of my heart and I invite You into my heart, Lord Jesus. Wash all of my filthy sins away in the precious blood that You shed in my place on the cross at Calvary. You will not turn me away, Lord Jesus; You will forgive my sins and save my soul. I know because Your Word, the Bible, says so. Your Word says that You will turn no one away, and that includes me. Therefore, I know that You have heard me, and I know that You have answered me, and I know that I am saved. And I thank You, Lord Jesus, for saving my soul, and I will show my thankfulness by doing as You command and sin no more.

©Holy Alamo Christian Church


Tony Alamo in His Own Words

The Tony Alamo Story (by Alamo Church)


"Little Yankee Girl" 1964


"Big Coal Man" 1964


"The Robot Walk" 1964


Original Signed Fashion Artwork n.d.


Bill Clinton on Tony Alamo 2004


Alamo Ministering from Prison 2011


Lawyer Goes After Church Property 2014

Obituary 5/3/2017

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