This is taken from A
Moment In Time and Footprints
In The Sand CD booklets.
Go to Part Two.
Larry Norman will soon be reaching his 40th year in music. He has been called "the father of Christian rock" because it was he who first combined rock and roll with Christian lyrics back in 1956. He received the C.A.S. Lifetime Achievement Award several years ago. Previous to that recognition, Contemporary Christian Music Magazine compiled a vote from a national poll of different critics and writers who named Norman's Only Visiting This Planet record the most significant and influential gospel album ever released in the field of comtemporary Christian music.
He started writing songs when he was a child and performing them in public at the age of nine. With the emergence of Elvis Presley, pastors raged from the pulpit that rock music was from the Devil and could never be used by God. Larry felt differently - that rock music had evolved from the black gospel music of American slaves; that God didn't need to use rock or any other kind of music. God had used the cross.
Larry continued to confront the evangelical community with his own personal vision of what best communicated Christ's love to the Sixties generation. He signed with Capitol Records in 1966. Making three records, he left after releasing his landmark album Upon This Rock. He next signed with MGM and released Only Visiting This Planet and So Long Ago The Garden. His style of music had been contreversial for almost fifteen years before the Jesus Movement sprang up. Even his own father did not like his son's music, but when others began to write songs which were similar to his - things finally began to change. Time Magazine recognised him as the most significant artist in his field and Billboard Magazine called him the most important writer since Paul Simon. Coincidently he was written up by Christianity Today at the same time and this finally silenced his father's protestations. Although on stage he often appeared to be daring an audience to like him, this enfant terrible - the "bad boy of Christian music" - began to be perceived differently.
Upon This Rock was banned by the majority of Bible Bookstores for two years. Only Visiting This Planet remained in limbo fo over six years. Finally, in 1975, after the explosive success of In Another Land within the Christian community, Larry created The Compleat Trilogy, a three-record boxed set of Planet, Garden and Land which included a book explaining the work he had been doing. He was told by the "mother company" that the gospel community wasn't ready for his previous two albums and that, frankly, none of the in-house staff or executives "understood" Planet or Garden anyway.
Upon leaving MGM Records in 1974 he had started his own label, Solid Rock Records. His first recording, Orphans From Eden, was never released. His next album, In Another Land, was executorially censored by the "mother company" which insisted on removing any music they felt was "too negative" or "too controversial." When his 1976 album Something New Under The Son, net with similar censorship, he took off on a seven-month world tour and wrote Voyage Of The Vigilant. The idea was to combine live concert performances with on-the-road hotel room recordings and stop-over studio sessions whenever foreign studios were available. This expansive tour was covered by journalist Steve Turner and chronicled by photographer D.C. Riggot. Larry toured with a rock and roll band and also performed solo sets throughout America, Canada, Australia, Scandinavia, the Netherlands, Great Britain, Germany, France, Italy, and more exotic locales like Israel, Lebanon, India, Hong Kong, and Japan - but with songs like "Three Million Gods," and "Cats Of The Coliseum," discussing the Hindu religion and the early martyrdom of Christians in Rome, this album was not acceptable because it was considered too "avant garde." So Voyage Of The Vigilant was never released. Larry's joyous trashcan symphony Le Garage Du Monde, The Young Lions' Spirit And Flesh ensemble work and Steve Scott's Moving Pictures were all considered too far over-the-edge for the American youth gospel market and never released.
So for what proved to be only a very short time, Larry produced other artists he had discovered in obscurity. Each of their album releases had been successful, both artistically and commercially. This "golden age of Solid Rock" was still in full flower, and Larry was getting ready to sign with Warner Brothers when he was involved in the airplane accident of 1978 which injured his spine, neck, and skull - and caused him partial brain damage. This started him down a very different road. His farewell song from Voyage Of The Vigilant proved to be self prophetic in a way other than he had intended and his brain damage silenced his literate voice for the next twelve years. His plan had been to let his contract run out uppon his return to America, but now he was unable to carry out his plans to move to Warner's.