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The History Of Christian Rock

Updated on March 3, 2012

Now a days christian rock is a common site with Bands like P.O.D. and Skillet having huge success in the mainstream market.But it wasn't always that way if you were around before the late 1960s and 70's you can remember a world without Christian rock.You were also around to see the history of Christian rock start and branch out into hard rock and metal as well as many other genres.So lets take a look back and see where it all began.Most historians agree there is not a definite band considered the 1st Christian rock band but there are two stand outs from the late 60's that normally get the nod.First in 1968 the band showing in the video above called Mind Garage released it album "Asphalt Mother"/"Reach Out" which combined a psychedelic rock sound with christian lyrics.This band was the first christian rock band to be televised on April 13, 1969 at Saint Marks Church in New York. Mind Garage performed The Electric Liturgy and was aired on ABC tv which is also considered the first Rock Worship Service.Along the same time Larry Norman appeared on the scene a former member of the group People! who had mild success in the late 60's.In 1969 Larry recorded the album "Upon This Rock"on Capitol records which is considered to be the first Christian Rock album.The album did little tell years latter where it was even nominated for a Grammy almost 3 years after being released.With that said Larry was let go from Capitol in 1970,but he continued to make Christian Rock and had several albums.Two of his most well knowing song are "I wish we'd all been ready" (video Below) off of upon this rock and "Why Should The Devil Have All The Good Music" from the album Miscellaneous which has been rerecorded by several other artist and is widely held as the first christian rock anthem.

Around the same time in the late 60's many hippies started to become born again christians wanting to follow Christ but still embrace there beliefs in peace and love to their fellow men.They began to form communes across the U.S. They soon became knowing as Jesus People and their beliefs of trying to return to basic roots the Bible became knowing as The Jesus Movement.Many modern Churches started as part of this movement most notable are Jesus People U.S.A.,The Vineyard,and Calvary Chapel.Along with this movement came the new sound of Christian rock with several artist.Such as Randy Stonehill,Barry Mcguire,Petra,Resurrection Band,and Phil Keaggy.Phil was one of the first to be heard from this movement as a member of a non-christian band called Glass Harp.He began to introduce christian lyrics and songs on the bands 1971 album Synergy.He was closely followed by Randy Stonehill who released basically a live album" Twice Born" which was financed by Pat Boone for 800 dollars.That same year Barry McGuire another artist that came form a non-christian background.Best knowing for his song "Eve of Destruction"(Below) released his first album after becoming a follower of Christ called "Seeds" on Myrrh Worship which is one of the many Record Labels that also branch out of the Jesus Movement with what was now being called Jesus Music.Again many of these record labels are still around today like Sparrow Music, Word, Star Song and Maranath Music.

In 1972 Campus Crusade for Christ sponsored Explo 72 in Dallas Texas.This was a five day gathering that started on June 12 and ended June 17 with nightly meetings at the Cotton Bowl.It featured many speakers like Billy Graham and Bill Bright and on the final day ended with a 8 hour music fest which to some became knowing as the Christian Woodstock.This event was recorded during the week and an album was made called Jesus Sound Explosion.This is a list of the Artist and songs it featured.

"I See Men as Trees Walking" (Johnny Cash)
"One Way" (Armageddon Experience)
"Didn't He" (Randy Matthews)
"Satisfied" (Andrae Crouch & the Disciples)
"Sweet Song of Salvation" (Larry Norman)

"Anticipation" (Great Commission Company)

"Spread a Little Love Around" (Danny Lee & the Children of Truth)

"Plenty of Time" (Connie Smith)
"Lord" (Forerunners)
"I Have the Joy in my Soul" (Willa Dorsey)
"Love Song" (Love Song)
"The King is Coming" (The Speer Family) Explo 72 was a key factor in letting the world know that Christian Rock was here.With 80,000 people showing up for the gathering many hearing Jesus Music for the first time.This became a historical moment in what some have called the beginning of the Christian Music Industry.

1972 is also the year when the music began to change.Bands like Daniel Amos, Resurrection Band, Petra, The Sweet Comfort Band were forming and bringing a harder sound to Christian Rock.The Daniel Amos Band and Petra were some of the first to start to play this style of music.Petra was formed in 1970 but was disbanded for a short time until the two founding members Bob Hartman and John DeGroff reconnected at a Bible School called Christian Training Center in Indiana.Where they also started to play at a christian coffeehouse in the area known as The Adam's Apple.In the same time frame a Band called Jubal's Last Band which later would become The Daniel Amos Band started to play and tour some churches and Christian coffeehouse in California.Also in 72 a band called Charity featuring a husband and wife team of Glenn and Wendi Kaiser had formed and was performing as part of Jesus People USA in Milwaukee.Jesus People USA soon formed into four groups that were called the traveling Jesus People USA.The band moved to Florida with one of branches of the traveling J P USA and later to its final home in Chicago.Where the Band changed it name to The Resurrection Band.These bands did struggle at first with many churches denouncing them as Devils music and record companies not wanting to take a risk of signing them.Petra was the first to be signed and release a self titled album in 73.Next up was The Resurrection Band who's 1976 album "Awaiting your reply" on a start up label Star Song made it to #6 on the Gospel album sales chart.Soon more bands and Artist were showing up on the scene some notable of the late 70's were Darrell Mansfield, Barnabas,Mylon LeFevre, Keith Green and many of the previous listed artist.In 77 Greg X. Volz joined Petra as lead singer and the bands third album "Come And Join" contained a remake of the song "God Gave Rock and Roll To You" by Argent and was received with some controversy.

With the 80's on the horizon these band continued to grow and were soon Joined by many other artist but the biggest shift in Christian Music came in the form of a long haired, yellow and black spandex cover band know as Stryper.Although Petra, Rez Band (formally the resurrection band),Whiteheart, DeGarmo & Key and Bloodgood were already making Hard rock/Metal style of music. Stryper was the first to embrace the Glam Metal look and style.Which helped the band reach a larger fan base and be singed to a secular label Enigma.With the labels backing Stryper was able to tour arenas opening for non-christian bands like Ratt and Bon Jovi before becoming headliners them self.Strypers third album "To Hell With The Devil" had numerous music videos hit the airwaves on MTV.Although they were not the first Christian band to have their video on MTV that distinction is held by another early 80's band know as DeGarmo & Key.Their video for the song "666"(Below) was heavily played on MTV in the early 80's.In an ironic twist MTV pulled it from rotation due to violent content.The videos re-edited version was placed back on the air minus the scene of the aintichrist being caught on fire.The early 80"s were filled with bands having a harder rock edge.Groups like Rick Cua, Petra ,Whiteheart, and Geoff Morre were all playing pop rock style.Which open the door for metal bands like Stryper, Bloodgood, Barren Cross, Whitecross and Shout and numerous others.Along with this metal sound came new record labels like Pure Metal,Intense,and a Metal Division of Star Song.Next Came a Heavy Metal Church known as Sanctuary(The Rock N' Roll Refuge) founded by Pastor Bob Beeman in 1984.Teaming up with Intense Records they begin putting out an annual compilation album under the name of "Hot Metal".These disc contained one song and a interview of up and coming bands.It also featured even harder bands in the hardcore/thrash/power metal genre.Bands like Deliverance, Vengeance, Mortification and Tourniquet were now getting singed.

Around the same time in the late 70's and early 80's Christian punk bands were forming with bands like Crashdog, Undercover, Alter Boys, and One Bad Pig.Which were featured on record labels such as Grrr Records, Intense, and later Tooth and Nail.These bands help carry the torch for Christian Rock when Grunge and Rap started to take over in the late 80's and 90's.In the early 90's rock music as a whole had a low as people took interest in in these new genres.What was now called Alternative Christian Rock on the scene bands with less of a edge were begin to get singed.As groups like Audio Adrenaline, Jars of Clay, Switchfoot and the Kry ruled the airwaves many Christian rock and metal bands started to dis-band.As others such as Holy Soldier and Guardian tried with little success to change with the times.Soon though in the late 90's Rock/Metal begin to make a come back with some fresh sounds and genres Nu-Metal,and Rap-Core hit the world with a loud smack and bands like P.O.D, Pillar,Disciple and Skillet started to take over the Christian Rock scene.Christian Punk also begin to change as well with a new sound known as Ska and was trumpeted by bands like The O.C. Supertones, Five Iron Frenzy, and The Insyderz.While others stayed true to the punk style like Mxpx, Ghoti Hook, and Dogwood.With Bands like these and others Christian Rock was back and sitting the stage for the 2000's.

In the early 2000s Christin Rock was back full force with bands like Thousand Foot Crutch, Pillar, P.O.D., Skillet, Seventh Day Slumber, and Red leading the way.At the same time An artist knowen as Brian "Head" Welch from a secular Nu-Metal band Korn.Anounced that he had given his life to Christ and was leaving the band, he soon followed with a book and album called "Save Me From Myself".Other Secular artist soon begin to talk about giving there life's to Christ.Artist like Dave Mustaine(of Megadeth) an Alice Cooper were proclaiming to be Christians although not leaving their secular labels.Another Movemement started to form out of Clavary Chaple.With the help of Brian "head" Wlech and P.O.D. it became knowing as the Whosoevers.Based on the Bible verse John 3:16 that said "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that WHOSOEVER believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." In 2004 Christian Rock had many artist top the Billboard Music Charts.Mercy Me, Switchfoot, and Casting Crowns were three of the top selling bands of the year with sales together topping out at 43.4 million units.As we come to the end of 2000s we see a resurgence of Christian Rock bands from the 80's. With bands Petra(now Classic Petra), Stryper, and WhiteCross reforming and releasing albums.While bands like Flyleaf, Skillet, Red, As I lay dying, and Blessed By A Broken Heart releasing albums and touring at numerous music fest.It seems that not only has Christian Rock caugth up with it's counterpart but in some cases surpassed it.


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    • mattdigiulio profile image


      6 years ago

      Awesome overview of a lot of great bands here man. Glad to be following. Best, Matt D

    • Eturnl profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Colorado

      Thanks Fred I've enjoyed several of your hub's got to say 80's metal was the best

    • FatFreddysCat profile image

      Keith Abt 

      7 years ago from The Garden State

      Good stuff. I still listen to a lot of the late 80s/early 90s metal bands from the Intense Records stable (i.e. Recon, Die Happy, Deliverance, etc.) as well as other old metal favorites like Barren Cross and Stryper.

    • Eturnl profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Colorado

      Thanks Trevor I did mention Red later on in my hub good band by the way thanks again for checking my hub out i shall return the favor

    • TrevorBasile profile image

      Trevor Basile 

      7 years ago from Rockaway, NJ

      Another mainstream rock group with christian under tones to there music is a group called Red!


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