Rocker Larry Norman died a week ago. Larry was the single greatest contemporary performer and writer in modern Christian music, a troubled and radical man of unbroken faith who used his gifts to write great songs that were often as uncomfortable for church-based listeners as for the unconverted.
As many have commented, heaven will be richer for his presence and yet, one feels, Larry will expect to be no more than a busker in the corner of Paradise.
Writing about Hollywood Sunset, we commented on how both Norman and Parchment found themselves, almost at the same time, pushing at the boundaries of what was acceptable, even to those Christian listeners who had enjoyed and adopted contemporary media.
Norman's and Parchment's music were not at all obviously alike. Norman drew on rock and roll, blues and American folk, Parchment on beat, British folk and pop. But as much as any other performers they shared the same vision and challenges.
Keith Rycroft, of Parchment, has posted a tribute to Larry Norman on the CrossRhythms website (this link gives their full obituary). I hope he won't mind us reposting it:
I was in a group named Parchment in 1973 and had the experience of touring with Larry Norman. He was a talented if not a somewhat enigmatic individual. I am not sure what UK christians made of him. He was a larger than life very blond californian christian singer, not singing hymns, but singing 'songs'. Songs they thought they liked but weren't sure they should. He, like us at the time ,was attempting to inject a contemporary musical agenda into 'christian music'. I am sure he will be missed but not forgotten.