Monday, March 31, 2008

Larry Norman

I was 21 years old, off drugs, a new follower of Jesus, and prepared to lay down my electric guitar. I was so desperate for help that I was willing to follow God even if it meant singing old hymns the rest of my life. Then came Larry Norman.

I think I saw Larry in concert 5-6 times. Once was with a relative handful of people at a county fair. There he was, with his long white hair and skinny physique. He was an OK guitar player and not-so-great piano player. His voice was memorable. His presence was something else. He was not only a Jesus-radical, he was just plain radical. Revolutionary. Controversial. Independent. Dependent on God. Outspoken. Funny. Charismatic. A very good lyricist.

I think Larry cared a lot about what God thought and not so much about what people thought. Larry created a lot of contoversy, and so did Jesus. The LA Times's obituary said: "Norman was dubbed the "father of Christian rock," but he didn't gain widespread acceptance from the religious establishment. "The churches weren't going to accept me looking like a street person with long hair and faded jeans," Norman said in an interview with CCM magazine. "They did not
like the music I was recording. And I had no desire to preach the Gospel to the converted. I wanted to be out on the sidewalk preaching to the runaways and the druggies and the prostitutes."

God sent Larry Norman to America to help people like me. God, through Larry, put the guitar back in my hands and told me I could sing about Jesus in bars if I was led to.

Larry died on Feb. 24, 2008.