Back in my conservative Evangelical days -- I was into Christian music. Love Song, Barry McGuire, and of course Larry Norman, were all favorites of mine. Larry Norman was, back then, a bit of an iconoclast. His theology was very conservative and apocalyptic ("I Wish We'd All Been Ready" was one of his, but he liked to challenge the norms. He wore his blond hair long, talked direct and tough. I remember going to a concert in Portland during my college days. Unlike an Andrae Crouch concert, which was always enlivening and inspiring -- kind of like church -- Larry's message was hilarious and biting at the same time. He would tell a story and you wanted to laugh, but he seemed so serious you felt like you should hold back.
He was an early proponent of Christian Rock and Roll. I remember him telling us (this was around 1978) that the Christian bookstores would sell tickets to the concert but not sell his albums. One of his most famous songs said it well: "Why should the devil have all the good music." Most of us agreed. We were uncertain about whether we should listen to Neil Young and the Beatles, but we didn't want to listen to Bill Gaither either.
I've not listened to Larry Norman in recent years. I don't have any of his albums in my collection either. My theology is a long way from his. But I remember him and his music with fondness -- even if it could be off-putting at times.
Well, this week I learned that this pioneer of Christian Rock, has died. Born April 8, 1947, he died February 24, 2008. He would have been 61 this April. Despite the direction of my spiritual journey, Larry Norman helped move me along the way. May your memory be blessed.