"Never thought we'd have to pay for water. I mean, God gave it to us for free. We redesigned it with industrial solvents and this and that. Now this, they've done something to this I guess ... It says "natural water." It's got a lot of stuff in it. It's got some bicarbonates in it. (shakes bottle) It's totally flat. It's got 357 of those. It's got 78 Calciums. 24 magnesiums and some Silica. What is that? You know, this costs like a buck fifty or something. Probably 'cause of all the stuff that's in it, although it is natural. This here happens to be a brand called Evian, which if you spell it backwards, spells Naive." -Larry Norman, quoted in VOG Magazine

Larry Norman is one of the most revered and influential artists in "Christian" music. Called by many "the father of Christian rock", his songs have been covered by everyone from DC Talk to Frank Black & The Catholics. An incredibly gifted performer and storyteller, his songs have been translated in to many languages worldwide and even appear in some church hymnals. With his long blonde hair, zany sense of humor, and talented use of his guitar and piano, his voice and songwriting skills he has won over many music lovers throughout the years. In the beginning, though, he gained a lot of notoriety because of his choice of music and controversial song topics- death, racism, war, the church, love, and a song about going to the moon, Jesus, and rock 'n' roll, titled "Reader's Digest":

(sung in a 'talking blues' style)

    Alice Cooper is a drag queen
    Bowie's somewhere in between
    other bands are looking mean
    me, I'm trying to stay clean
    I don't dig the radio
    I hate what the charts pick
    rock 'n' roll may not be dead
    but it's getting sick
    all over the world
    disc jockeys talk the same
    and every town I play
    is like the town from where I came

    Well, the Rolling Stones are millionaires
    flower children are pallbearers
    The Beatles said all you need is love
    then they broke up (me, I'll never break up!)
    Jimi took an overdose
    Janis followed so close
    the whole music scene and all the bands are really comatose
    this time last year
    people didn't wanna hear
    they looked at Jesus from afar
    this year he's a Superstar
    ...dear John, who's more popular now?
    I've been listening to some of Paul's new records
    sometimes I think he really is dead

    Well, in 1973
    I wonder who we're gonna see
    who's in power now
    think I'll turn on the TV
    Man on the news says
    Russia's gonna beat us
    they shot all our dreamers
    and there's no one left to lead us
    we need a solution
    we need salvation
    let's send some people to the moon to gather information!
    ...they brought back a big bag of rocks...
    only cost $57 billion, must be nice rocks!

(excerpted from "Only Visiting This Planet", MGM/Verve Records, 1972)

LARRY NORMAN: "I've written songs I think are so terrible - just the worst. I think 'Reader's Digest' is a bad song because it's too topical. It becomes immediately dated. A year later it was out of date. People say, 'Alice Cooper, who's that?" But another problem (and I feel really bad about this) is although it always got a laugh when I said "Dear John, who's more popular now?" and I said "I've been listening to some of Paul's records and I think sometimes he really is dead." - that's the only time I've been unkind in a lyric to anybody. I was angry with the John Lennon remark about Christ's popularity. But it's still not right for me to make anything a personal issue with anybody even if they're big enough and famous enough it doesn't bother them. It's not a charitable, lyrical thing to do. So I regretted that.

Larry Norman was born in Corpus Christi Texas in 1947. When he was 3 years old, his parents moved to an apartment in the Haight-Ashbury District in San Francisco. His family was very musical with his parents and grandparents encouraging him in his musical ambitions. By the time he was 9 (1956) he began to write and perform his own compositions. As a teenager, he joined a group called People! which was eventually offered a contract with Capitol Records (1966). People! opened for such artists as the Greatful Dead, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and the Doors. The group was signed to Capitol Records, home of the Beach Boys and the Beatles in the late '60s (Larry was still underage so his parents had to sign the contract for him). Their first release was supposed to be called "We Need A Whole Lot More Of Jesus, And A Lot Less Rock 'N' Roll" but was changed by Capitol to the more commercially viable "I Love You" (a big top ten single hit for the group). Larry is said to have left the group in protest the day the record hit store shelves.

Moving on to a solo recording career, Larry decided to pick up where he had left off with Capitol (!), releasing "Upon This Rock" in 1969.

    "Upon This Rock" was written to stand outside the Christian culture. I tried to create songs for which there was no anticipated acceptance. I wanted to display the flexibility of the gospel and that there was no limitation to how God could be presented. I used abrasive humor and sarcasm as much as possible, which was also not a traditional aspect of Christian music. I chose negative imagery to attempt to deliver a positive message, like "I Don't Believe in Miracles" is actually about faith. "I Wish We'd All Been Ready" talked about something I had never heard preached from a pulpit as I grew up. "The Last Supper" and "Ha Ha World" used very surreal imagery which drug users could assimilate. My songs weren't written for Christians. No, it was not a Christian album for those believers who wanted everything spelled out. It was more like a street fight. I was saying to Christians, "I'm going to present the gospel, and I'm not going to say it like you want. This album is not for you." Larry Norman in 1969
He continued to put out records throughout the 1970s, on a variety of commercial and religious labels. Most notable is the "Planet" trilogy: "Only Visiting This Planet" (MGM, 1973); "So Long Ago The Garden" (MGM, 1974) and "In Another Land" (MGM, 1974). He also discovered and produced a number of other artists who would become seminal in the Christian music scene: Randy Stonehill, Steve Camp, Daniel Amos, Steve Scott, Keith Green, Sheila Walsh, Tom Howard and Mark Heard. He also helped to influence such mainstream artists as Bob Dylan, U2, Pete Townshend and Frank Black.

One of his more popular songs, "Why Should The Devil Have All The Good Music", was written after people started questioning his use of Rock 'n' Roll which many Chistians considered the "Devil's Music". His answer was to quote Martin Luther, who said "Why should the devil have all the good tunes?". He also took a page from Salvation Army founder William Booth who used brass bands on the street corner playing popular tunes of the day with lyrics straight from the Bible as a way of catching people's attention. Larry sang,

    I want the people to know that He saved my soul,
    But I still like to listen to the radio
    They say rock & roll is wrong, we'll give you one more chance,
    But I feel so good I've got to get up and dance

    I know what's right, I know what's wrong--
    I don't confuse it
    But all I'm really tryin' to say
    Is why should the devil have all the good music?
    I feel good every day
    Because Jesus is the rock and he rolled my blues away

    They say to cut my hair, they're driving me insane
    I grew it out long to make room for my brain,
    But sometimes people don't understand
    "What's a good boy doin' in a rock & roll band?"

    There's nothin' wrong with playing blues licks!
    If you've got a reason, tell me to my face
    Why should the devil have all the good music?
    There's nothing wrong with what I play
    Jesus is the rock and he rolled my blues away

    I ain't knockin' the hymns
    Just give me a song that has a beat
    I ain't knockin' the hymns
    Just give me a song that moves my feet
    I don't like none of those funeral marches
    I ain't dead yet!

    Jesus told the truth, and Jesus showed the way
    There's one more think I'd like to say
    They nailed him to the cross and the laid him in the ground,
    But should've known you can't keep a good man down

(excerpted from "Only Visiting This Planet", MGM/Verve Records, 1972)

Throughout most of the 1970s, Larry was a very prolific songwriter and toured around the world performing his songs. He was in the unique position of being "too religious for the rock 'n'rollers, and too rock for the church." After being dumped by most major religious and commercial labels, in the mid 1970s he started his own label, Solid Rock and it's imprint Phydeaux (pronounced "Fi-do", of which Larry said, "If Christian music is going to the dogs I want to be on the cutting edge"), and continued to churn out records, undaunted by critics or sales figures. In 1978, returning from a tour of Asia and the Middle East, he was injured by an accident when the plane came to an abrupt stop on the taxiway at LAX and part of the overhead column dropped on his head, causing brain damage (I believe the medical diagnosis was bi-polar trauma). In 1988, while giving a state-sponsored series of concerts in the USSR, he claimed to have been interrogated and poisoned by the KGB, with subsequent alleged attempts made on his life by the Russian military.

In 1981, Larry released what many consider one of his finest albums, Something New Under The Son. It's a low down and dirty sounding blues album, which tells a story about a man who's been kicked around, rejected, and ultimately attempts to take his own life by drowning in a river until rescued by a passing preacher who, quote, "spoiled a perfect day". It features a fine performance on guitar by John Linn, a friend and sideman of Larry's until John's untimely death in a traffic accident in 2001. 1989 saw the release of Stranded In Babylon, which was hailed by many European critics as one of the best albums of the decade (it was barely noticed at all in the U.S.A.).

Larry has managed to keep a lower profile during the last two decades, mostly due to health concerns. He still manages to do an occasional concert and runs his own website and record label, with a good chunk of his back catalog being reissued every few years. In July of 2001, he played the main stage of Cornerstone Festival in Illinois, opening for Stryper (!). On October 18, 2003, he made his first public appearance in years during a concert performance at a church near Portland, Oregon. His "final" concert was held June 28, 2005 at the Elsinore Theater in his adopted home town of Salem, Oregon. Two more "final" concerts were held in July of 2005, in Norway and England.

"The top solo artist in his field." -Time Magazine

"The most important songwriter since Paul Simon." -Billboard Magazine

A LARRY NORMAN DISCOGRAPHY OF SORTS:
Key:
UK- British release
NL- Dutch/European release

Most of these releases were on vinyl from 1966 to "Home At Last" in 1989; during the 1980s Larry concentrated more on cassette releases. By 1990 he had pretty much abandoned vinyl and cassettes for the CD format. Larry does not skimp on the artwork and packaging either; each CD release usually contains 16-20 full color pages with extensive liner notes, exclusive photos, digital sound re-mastering and a few bonus tracks and other goodies thrown in for the attentive consumer. "Home" was the first release on cassette and CD, with a limited release on vinyl. Larry showed up at Cornerstone Festival in Illinois in 1989, with around 500 white-jacketed double vinyl albums of "Home" which he "personalized" with a black magic marker and hand-numbered.

People!: I Love You (Capitol, 1966)
People!: Both Sides Of People! (Capitol, 1969)
Upon This Rock (Capitol, 1969; Kingsway, UK 1989; Solid Rock 2002)
Street Level(One Way, 1969; Phydeaux, 1983; Solid Rock, 2005)
Bootleg (One Way, 1969; Phydeaux, 1990, Solid Rock "Illegal Noise Series" CD-R, 2001, 05)
Only Visiting This Planet (MGM/Verve, 1972; Solid Rock, 1991, 97, 2001, 03)
So Long Ago The Garden (MGM/Verve, 1973; Phydeaux, 1984; Solid Rock, 1993, 2002, 03)
In Another Land (Solid Rock, 1976; Phydeaux, 1989; Spark, NL 1993, Solid Rock 1999, 2003)
Streams Of White Light Into Darkened Corners(AB, 1977; Phydeaux, 1989; Solid Rock, 1998)
Larry Norman (Starstorm, 1978; Solid Rock, 2000)
Live At The Mac (Solid Rock, 1979, 1999)
Larry Norman & People!: The Israel Tapes 1974 A.D. (Phydeaux, 1980, 2000)
Roll Away The Stone (And Listen To The Rock)(Phydeaux, 1980; Solid Rock 2003)
Something New Under The Son(Solid Rock, 1981; Phydeaux 1989, 2003)
Larry Norman And His Friends On Tour (Solid Rock, 1981)
Barking At The Ants(Solid Rock, 1981)
Letter Of The Law (Phydeaux, 1983)
Labor Of Love (Phydeaux, 1983)
The Story Of The Tune (Phydeaux, 1983, 95)
Come As A Child (Phydeaux, 1983; Solid Rock, 2000)
Quiet Night (Stress, 1984)
A Chronological History 1966-1984 (Stress, 1984)
Stop This Flight(Six Blue Lions, 1984; Solid Rock, 1997)
Back To America EP (Stress, 1985)
Rough Mix 3: Howling At The Moon (Phydeaux, 1985)
Barchaeology (Phydeaux, 1986)
Rehearsal For Reality (Royal, 1986)
Down Under (But Not Out)(Phydeaux, 1988, 96)
White Blossoms From Black Roots(Solid Rock, 1988)
The Best Of The Second Trilogy (Phydeaux, 1989)
Home At Last(Benson, 1989; Solid Rock 1989; Spark, NL 1989)
Live At Flevo (Spark, NL 1989)
Confiscated/ The Best Of Larry Norman (Phydeaux, 1991)
Barking At The Oops! Rough Mix #3 (Phydeaux, 1991)
Stranded In Babylon European version (Spark, NL 1991; Solid Rock 2002)
Stranded In Babylon the American re-mix (Solid Rock, 1994)
Children Of Sorrow- The CCPC Concert (Street Level, 1994; Solid Rock, 2002)
Totally Unplugged(Street Level, 1994)
A Moment In Time (Street Level, 1994)
Footprints In The Sand(Street Level, 1994; Spark, NL 1994)
Omega Europa(Solid Rock, 1994)
Various Artists: Remixing This Planet (N*Soul, 1996)
Various Artists: One Way- The Songs Of Larry Norman (Forefront, 1996)
Gathered Moments (Somewhere In This Lifetime)(Howling Dog, 1998)
Live At Flevo II: Shouting In The Storm(Solid Rock, 1998; Spark, NL 1998)
Breathe In, Breathe Out (Solid Rock, 1998)
Copper Wires(Solid Rock, 1998; Spark, NL 1998)
People!: We Wish You A Larry Christmas (Solid Rock, 1999)
The Vineyard (Solid Rock, 1999)
Rough Street Love Letter Street Level/Rough Mix 3/Letter Of The Law/
Labor Of Love
(Solid Rock, 1999)
Father Touch (Phydeaux Phan Klub, 1999)
Larry Norman & Randy Stonehill: Where The Woodbine Twineth-The Cottage Tapes
(Solid Rock, 2000)
In The Beginning: Live at Creation West Festival 2000 (Solid Rock, 2000)
Blarney Stone (Solid Rock, 2000)
Sticks And Stones (Solid Rock, 2000)
Tourniquet (Solid Rock, 2001)
Rough Diamonds, Precious Jewels (The Belfast Bootlegs Volumes 1 through 4)
(Romanian Relief, 2002)
Instigator: The Essential Larry Norman 1 (Solid Rock, 2002)
Agitator: The Essential Larry Norman 2 (Solid Rock, 2002)
Collaborator: The Essential Larry Norman 4 (Solid Rock, 2002)
Survivor: The Essential Larry Norman 7 (Solid Rock, 2002)
Contender (Flow Like A River, NL 2003)
Rock, Scissors et Papier (Solid Rock, 2003)
Restless In Manhattan, live 1972 (Solid Rock, 2003)
Live at Cornerstone 2001 (Solid Rock, 2003)
American Roots (Solid Rock, 2003)
Road Rage- On Tour In The Old World (Solid Rock, 2003)
The Very Best Of Larry Norman- 45 Years (Solid Rock, 2003)
Invitation Only (Solid Rock, 2003)
You Gotta Have Jesus CD single (Solid Rock, 2003)
Christmastime (Solid Rock, 2003)
The 6 O'Clock NewsCD single (Solid Rock, 2003)
Eve Of DestructionCD single (Solid Rock, 2003)
The First Noel CD single (Solid Rock, 2003)
The Tune CD single (Solid Rock, 2003)
The Final Concert (Solid Rock, 2004)
Snowblind - Live in Utah(Solid Rock, 2004)
Infiltrator: The Essential Larry Norman 6 (Solid Rock, 2004)
Liberator: The Essential Larry Norman 3 (Solid Rock, 2004)
The Final Concert (Solid Rock, 2004)
Sessions (Solid Rock, 2004)
Emancipator: The Essential Larry Norman 5 (Solid Rock, 2005)
Larry Norman & Randy Stonehill: And The Rampion Runs Wild-The Cottage Tapes 2
(Solid Rock, 2005)
70 Miles From Lebanon (Solid Rock, 2005)
The Norman Invasion (Solid Rock, 2005)
Solid Rock Sampler 1 (Solid Rock Army, 2005)
Sessions (Solid Rock Army, 2005)
Anthology Series: Maximum Planet (Solid Rock, 2005)
Anthology Series: Maximum Garden (Solid Rock, 2005)
Anthology Series: Maximum Land (Solid Rock, 2005)
Heartland Junction (Solid Rock, 2005)
Underground Manoeuvers (Solid Rock, 2005)
Four Trk Motorola / '66 Corolla (Solid Rock, 2005)
Standing In The Light (Solid Rock, 2005)
On The Prowl (Solid Rock, 2005)
Hattem (Solid Rock, 2005)
Live At The Elsinore (Solid Rock, 2005)
Seige At The Elsinore (Solid Rock, 2005)
Rehearsal For Reality (Solid Rock, 2005)
Frisbee(soundtrack to the 2005 film, "Frisbee: The Life And Death Of A Hippie Preacher") (Solid Rock, 2005)


Sources:
BIO
Larry Norman, "Stranded In Babylon" (1991)
Larry Norman, "Upon This Rock" (2002)

DISCOG
http://www.larrynorman.com
http://www.larrynorman.uk.com
http://users.ev1.net/~botheja/
http://www.io.com/~aslan/images/ln.disco
http://ccmdiscography.150m.com
http://www.e-church.com

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