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Larry Norman

The founding father of Jesus Rock, Larry Norman wed the rhythms of pop music with the spiritual and social outlook of Christianity to create a kind of flower-power gospel. While his efforts were instrumental in shaping the sound and themes of contemporary Christian rock, Norman never enjoyed the commercial success or acceptance afforded to his musical descendants, admitting his sensibilities were "too secular for the Christians and too Christian for the secularists." Born in Corpus Christi, TX on April 8, 1947, Norman was raised in San Francisco. A devout follower of both Jesus Christ and Elvis Presley, as a boy he regularly sang original Christian-themed lyrics over his favorite rock & roll records, and in 1959 even appeared on the CBS television variety series The Original Amateur Hour. In 1965 Norman co-founded the Bay Area psychedelic group People!, which a year later signed to Capitol and scored a minor hit with the single "Organ Grinder." A subsequent cover of the Zombies' "I Love You" yielded a U.S. Top 20 entry, and in early 1968 the group began work on its debut LP. However, around this time a number of Norman's bandmates embraced Scientology, and when Capitol resisted his entreaties to title People!'s debut LP We Need a Whole Lot More of Jesus and a Lot Less Rock and Roll -- the album instead hit retail as I Love You -- he left the group and mounted a solo career.

Capitol nevertheless agreed to release Norman's solo debut, 1969's Upon This Rock -- the album vaulted him to iconic status within the growing Jesus People counterculture movement but earned the scorn of the conservative Christian establishment, and because secular pop radio wanted nothing to do with the album, either, Capitol soon cut its ties with the singer. Norman resurfaced in 1972 on MGM, issuing the landmark Only Visiting This Planet, commonly cited among the most influential Christian rock records of all time. The first chapter in a three-album trilogy retelling the story of creation, the fall, and redemption, it was followed by So Long Ago the Garden and In Another Land, and together the LPs represent the creative zenith of his career. Upon leaving MGM in 1974, Norman's founded his own Solid Rock Records imprint, releasing his own material as well as albums by Christian acts including Randy Stonehill, Mark Heard, and Daniel Amos -- he also launched The Vineyard, a Bible study program for musicians and actors that at one point welcomed Bob Dylan, who later embraced Christianity and released a series of Norman-inspired spiritual LPs highlighted by 1979's Slow Train Coming. Secular performers including Van Morrison, John Mellencamp, and the Pixies' Black Francis later cited Norman as an influence as well, and more than 300 artists covered his songs, among them Sammy Davis, Jr.

By the early '80s Norman's Capitol and MGM efforts were out of print, and as a thriving bootleg market mushroomed around his music, he formed a new label, Phydeaux Records, in an attempt to regain control of his catalog. He issued more than a dozen new LPs in the decade to follow, a staggering number of them live releases, and while his productivity was never in question, his latter-day material was wildly uneven, and often derivative of his most acclaimed records. Poor health dogged him, and over time his behavior grew increasingly erratic -- diagnosed with bipolar trauma, Norman often claimed he was drugged by the KGB during a 1988 tour of Russia, and in 1992 he suffered a heart attack, spending the remainder of his life in and out of hospitals. In 1995 he was the subject of a tribute album, One Way: Songs of Larry Norman, which featured contributions from CCM superstars like dc Talk, Audio Adrenaline, and Rebecca St. James. In 2001, Norman also earned induction into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame, entering alongside his boyhood idol Elvis. He officially retired that same year, although in June 2005 he returned long enough to play one final concert in Salem, OR, his home for more than two decades. A day after posting a message on his official website that he felt "like a prize in a box of Cracker Jacks with God's hand reaching down to pick me up," Norman died of heart failure on February 24, 2008 -- he was 60 years old. ~ Jason Ankeny, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

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Track List: Upon This Rock (Collector's Edition)

Disc 1
Disc 2

Comments

Thanks for sharing that newhampshire i a n . I believe Larry knew the Lord Jesus and followed Him. So sorry Larry is no longer with us. He was a great poet, story-teller and musician. Thank you, Lord, for creating people like Larry...and more importantly, saving them from sin and themselves. You alone are worthy, Lord. Thank you.
On life's road trip, God gives us mile markers of Himself and some songs are just that, Larry always claimed to be a saved sinner and shared what he had with the world. Jesus loves us all, the good, bad and even the ugly soul. Met Larry, at a very intimate acoustic concert with only him, piano/guitar , he played into the night for hours and then he and a few of us went to Friendly's. I met the Legend and he was just a man who wanted to know/love Jesus, like me. Happy with God. Selah
kara9348
Larry Norman fueled my passion for Christ when I became a born again Christian in 1979 in a way that continues to resonate in my soul some 35 years later. I was never one to believe the bible, hook, line and sinker, but the love of Christ was deep in my heart. My brother and I took Larry Norman, Keith Green and Randy Stonehill albums to our High School Principal and successfully petitioned for an every other Wednesday Christian Rock Lunch period. I listen to the old songs every day on Pandora
greg.elseth
He inspired me as a teenager and his music helped me grow in my faith. I saw him at three concerts. Thank you Larry for being a faithful servant of Jesus Christ. Brother Greg
I totally new this guy when I was little. My aunt was his best friend!
lynde40
I don't know about his personal life. I'm sure he was flawed like we all are. If he did father a child and then neglect him, he was not the first. If I can't forgive his mistakes, if he made that mistake and sinned that way, it's pretty arrogant of me to think I have an advocate who's going to stand up for me on judgment day, isn't it? Like the Bible says, we have all sinned.

Loved his music, loved his vision, looking forward to seeing him in Heaven!
avocadolemon
Here is Charles Norman's heartfelt plea to people regarding the rumor of a son in Australia: http://www.c a r e 2 . c o m / c 2 c / s h a r e / d e t a i l / 7 3 0 9 8 0 I only post this for perspective. He asks in this article to post this where ever the other story is posted. To Christ followers everywhere: stop the madness. It's really not our business. The name and fame to spread is Jesus name! Instead, people spend time in someone else's business. Ack!
Other than Phil Keaggy, there has never been a better Christian artist than Larry Norman, in my opinion.
The saddest thought, though was that no one knew who Larry Norman was until the Philosophy Teacher told them they would not have their music if it had not been for Larry Norman.See ya in heaven, Larry. We'll all be singing that Sweet Song of Salvation
I still sing I Wish We'd All Been Ready/Tomorr o w ' s News(Malcolm & A l w y n ) in church as a reminder that Jesus is returning. Upon This Rock was one of my first Christian albums when I got saved. I have sang a number of his other songs at a time or two at church as well. Before he died he gave my 24 year old daughter 4 CDs for her when she got her entire class to send a get well card from Vanguard U. The saddest thought, though, was that no one knew who Larry Norman was until the Philosophy Teacher
psattler22
His music reaches deep into your soul.
Thanks Larry for your pioneering work in Christian Alternative
redlaceyhear t
Larry fed my faith when I was a new christian and still feeds it now...see you at the party in heaven brother!
I have also been encouraged by Larry`s Music, I saw Larry Norman in concert 3 times and loved every minute of it. When I became a Christian the first tape I bought was a Larry Norman tape. I salute you Larry, see you in Heaven.
brmusicluver
sippin' pepsi from a paper cup, luvn' jesus so much that i cant stand up.
f_m_dudley
For all those who have posted negatives and innuendo about Larry's life, would you prefer he had denied Christ three times before a rooster crowed? Jesus forgave Peter and told him to "feed my sheep". Larry's music fed my faith a thousand times. He wasn't perfect, just forgiven. And don't believe everything you see just because it is in a movie or article. Larry is with the Father now and has already heard him say "Well done, good and faithful servant".
Larry is my moms sisters son and I was so fortunate as a singer to follow such an insperation growing up. I just spent the most incredible weekend with the Norman family laughing untill we cried at all the wonderful stories! Open ur mind and heart to the music and you shall know the truth! Thank you Larry!
thomasbgraha m
Love his music, he made it ok to a Christian "head" :) As Johnny Storm sez FLAME ON !!
Larry Norman was one of a kind. Fortunately God uses all kinds of people - all sinners saved by grace. Larry was used in spite of what he did and didn't do - just like all of us! Loved his music.
roadhomeconc e r t s
Larry was the best! RIP
I was a hippie on the street in Myrtle Beach SC in the summer of 1972. I went to this concert called the Son Festival and sat next to this really friendly long haired blonde guy that kept smiling huge and talking to me. Then he got up went to the stage and played a song called "Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Music?" on a beat to life black flattop. I was never the same after that.
cliftoncone. . . . We are all frauds. Peter denied Christ three times and he walked in his foot steps. I have fallen short more times than I could count. Larry is a success in that his music touched lives and pointed to the savior. I am thankful for that gift.
jorifri11
Larry's music is pure. Though his life may not have been. He was a unique messenger of truth, delivered in such a way that it spoke to so many of us. He had a way of cutting to the heart of the matter in his lyrics. Thankfully, his music lives on and on!!!
hzjavajunkie
Larry Norman had a gift that he shared passionately ! ! ! He never, ever denied that He loved and was saved by Jesus Christ. I am soooo grateful for his willingness to share his music. It has inspired My husband and myself. I do not know the rumors about his son, but I did hear him restore a relationship in public with another musician. I think he is probably a lot like any of us, he was not perfect, and did not get everything right-just like Amy Grant... many, many, many of us who claim Chris
cartingask
I didn't want to believe any of the rumors about Larry. His music meant a lot to me. I still have a lot of unanswered questions about it all. I am sad that his family have not helped the situation. They are asking for donations on their website to sponsor children for Compassion Internationa l while the child that Larry fathered is called names and told to be quiet. I am not sure what to believe anymore about Larry. Sad.
slavadez
I used to be a HUGE Larry Norman fan until I found out about the child he fathered and neglected. This is heartbreakin g www.worldmag . c o m / a r t i c l e s / 1 4 1 8 0
cliftoncone
Larry Norman was a complete and utter fraud. You can find a great documentary on his life at www.fallenan g e l d o c . c o m .
One of my early favorite people and song writers. Met him once and played his songs over and over.. Will miss him and his influence will live on in many lives he touched in the name of Jesus.
larry was highly underrated he was a lyrical&musi c a l master I MISS HIM .only got to see him once back in 77 TOTALLY ENJOYED IT,even got to meet him
Larry Norman was many things to me, chief among them a friend in my solitude and pain. I know God and he are sharing some great fun together now!
chinadenning t o n
hes my faveorite i sure am happy hes with god
bdstoff
There are no similar artists. He was one of a kind.
Here it is nearly a year later and I am just now finding out that THE FOUNDER OR CHRISTIAN ROCK has gone home to be with God. I knew hes very sick, but I completely missed the news of his death. I hope he's singing a new song, and that God is smiling.
Larry Norman was not a Chritian artist but truly a musician who was a believer. He was not afraid to allow his passion for music and God to mix and lived to do just that. He challenged our view of what it meant to be a follower of Jesus and gave his life to be used by God. He will be missed.
why should the devil have all the good music thank god for larry he is my hero and along with keith green rich mullins and others who have departed this life including my dad i thank god for them and their statement that jesus is the rock and he rolled my blues away john 3: 16 . amazing grace
He was a legend, an icon, and an inspiration to me early in my Christian walk. RIP.
Dear God, and there were no headlines that I saw to mourn his passing. I mourn him. His were some of the first albums I ever bought. He was indeed the Father of contemporary Christian music.

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