A true pioneer lost


News that Larry Norman died last Sunday — at the very young age of 60 — was shocking. He was a true pioneer of what grew into the popular genre known as Contemporary Christian Music.
In 1969, Norman recorded his first (and the first) “Christian Rock” record. His long hair and loud music were not widely received in most conservative Christian circles.
But Norman knew he had an audience. He was once quoted as saying: “I had no desire to preach to the converted.”
Yet many of us young Christians in the ’70s embraced both the new hair and musical styles.
(My ever-judging Tennessee Temple friends back then assured me that Jesus and his disciples got short haircuts by using Roman helmets like some rural folk once used soup bowls. Such scholarship!)
Norman threw open the door for many others such as 2nd Chapter of Acts, Andre Crouch and the Disciples, Keith Green, The Pat Terry Group, Dallas Holm and Praise, Honeytree, Mylon LeFevre and Broken Heart, and David Meece.
Their records (real records, LPs) spun on the turntables in our dorm rooms and their 8-track tapes boomed in our cars.
My music tastes have changed since then. And 14 years of campus ministry provided all the chorus singing I may ever need.
But I am grateful for those like Larry Norman who look for new and creative ways to express their faith.
Shortly before he died in Salem, Oregon, early this week, he said: “I am ready to fly home.” Apparently, his faith endured to the end.

5 Comments

  1. Larry Norman and Mylon LeFevre convinced me that my faith and the real world could co-exist during high school and college. I’m not sure I’d have stayed in the fold without their influence. Thanks for noticing the passing of a pioneer.

  2. I remember sitting through a sermon where the speaker felt the need to discuss the immorality of contemporary Christian music. He used the phrase “If it walks like a duck, and it sounds like a duck…”. My dad even told me once that he didn’t want me listening to those “new age hippies” when I had a tape (sorry, no 8-tracks) of Newsong playing. And then he would go and listen to his Bill Gaither Albums…oh the irony.

  3. Larry Norman’s death shocked me also. I have long been a fan of contemporary Christian pop/rock (which today is a far cry from the late 70s, 80s and early 90s), and still have quite an extensive collection from that era. Thanks for the blog about Norman’s influence in the world of Christian music.

  4. I always enjoyed dc Talk’s cover of “I Wish We’d All Been Ready.” Though I don’t subscribe to the dispensational premillennialism belief, the song was a good reminder to live every day as though the end is tomorrow. My prayers are with Larry’s family.

  5. Larry’s music was very influential in my own walk with God. As a Youth Pastor in the early 70s in Buffalo, NY, I got exposed to lots of that early “Jesus music”. . 2nd Chapter, JC Power Outlet, Honeytree, etc.

    What many don’t know is that in the mid 60s, he was part of a band called “People” and had a Top 20 hit called “I Love You”.

    Larry Norman was a true Musician’s musician, but more than that, he was a “friend of God”!

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