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Larry Norman Dies at 60

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Larry Norman

Larry Norman

Arena Rock Recording Co.
Larry Norman, the man who asked the musical question, "Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Music?," died of heart failure at his home in Salem, Oregon, on February 24, 2008, in the arms of his brother Charles and his sister-in-law Kristin.

Norman was born April 8, 1947, in Corpus Christi, Texas. His family moved soon after and he grew up in San Francisco. Finding a church home in a black, evangelical church, Larry thought Elvis Presley was trying to steal the music of the black church and he decided someone should steal it back. So in 1956, at the age of nine, he began performing his own music in public.

His recording ministry started 10 years later in 1966 when he was signed by Capitol Records with his band People!. In 1969, he released his first solo effort with Capital, Upon This Rock. The album is considered the first Christian rock album and helped Larry earn the moniker "The Father of Christian Rock."

After a brief stint with MGM, Norman started his own independent record label, Solid Rock Records, in 1974. He discovered artists like Randy Stonehill and Steve Camp and continued to record his own music. During those early years of Solid Rock, Billboard Magazine called him “the most important writer since Paul Simon.”

Time Magazine once called Larry Norman "the most significant artist in his field." Over 300 cover versions of his songs have been recorded by artists such as Frank Black, Cliff Richard, Petula Clark and Sammy Davis, Jr. His songs have also been recorded by contemporary Christian artists like Audio Adrenaline, DC Talk and Rebecca St. James. Despite suffering from brain damage after an accident that happened during an airplane landing in 1978, two heart attacks in the '90s, diabetes, congestive heart failure and problems with his retina that left him legally blind, he performed for The White House, twice, as well as in Moscow at the 80,000 seat Olympic Stadium. He headlined venues like The Hollywood Bowl, The Sydney Opera House, The Palladium and London's prestigious Royal Albert Hall, which he sold out six times, once filling it twice on the same day. In the last 40 years, Norman has released nearly 100 solo albums.

Larry knew that his time here was very short and on the day before he died, he had his friend Allen Fleming type the following message into his computer ...

    I feel like a prize in a box of cracker jacks with God's hand reaching down to pick me up. I have been under medical care for months. My wounds are getting bigger. I have trouble breathing. I am ready to fly home.

    My brother Charles is right, I won't be here much longer. I can't do anything about it. My heart is too weak. I want to say goodbye to everyone. In the past you have generously supported me with prayer and finance and we will probably still need financial help.

    My plan is to be buried in a simple pine box with some flowers inside. But still it will be costly because of funeral arrangement, transportation to the gravesite, entombment, coordination, legal papers etc. However money is not really what I need, I want to say I love you.

    I'd like to push back the darkness with my bravest effort. There will be a funeral posted here on the website, in case some of you want to attend. We are not sure of the date when I will die. Goodbye, farewell, we will meet again.

    Goodbye, farewell, we'll meet again
    Somewhere beyond the sky.
    I pray that you will stay with God
    Goodbye, my friends, goodbye.

    Larry

A public memorial ceremony will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, March 1, 2008 at the Church on the Hill, 2707 Maranatha Court, Turner, Oregon.

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