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When drums and guitars first hit the churches.

To have Billy Graham come up after hippies played and preach to them was like a moment of truth. Like, well maybe if it’s okay with Billy, it’s okay with God.


One of the things that people have always tagged “Love Song” with, that I never really understood is they said; “you were forerunners in worship”. I’d go; “we weren't worship leaders.” We didn’t do worship songs, but what they’ll say is; “well it was worshipful. It brought us into worship.” We were just a bunch of musicians that got born again. We were going to Calvary Chapel. We had been going there for about three weeks. We thought, man our music would be a really good fit here. They don’t have music like we play. We should find out if we can play here. On Sunday, it was real traditional. It was the organ and the hymn. So we took a meeting, so to speak. We just walked into the office on a weekday. We went up to the secretary and said; “we’ve been Christians about three weeks and we want to play here.” Can we meet with Pastor Chuck?” A lot of the people in those days were really more wary of our look. Their attitude was if God cleaned you up on the inside, when is he going to clean you up on the outside? And uh, so that was I think a little reason for Chuck to be a little cautious. But finally at the end of the interview, which wasn’t that long (20 minutes or so). He said; “well why don’t you guys play me a sample song?” So we went out and got our guitars and we played a song called “Welcome Back”. And the Holy Spirit really did fall. It’s the only way to describe it. His heart was touched. The next thing we heard was; “can you guys play tonight?” So I felt like, wow that was a very successful audition, you know. He wants us to play tonight. So we said; “well, what time is the service?” He said; “seven o’clock”. We said; “Fred Field, our guitar player, is doing weekends in jail. Orange county jail, on a marijuana bust. But he gets out at six o’clock, so I think we could make seven.” That’s exactly what happened. Calvary Chapel was running about two hundred strong at that point. It just grew exponentially. Within four months there was about two thousand people coming. The word spread like wildfire. There was a hippie band. Hippie preacher. We had people in the isles. We had fire marshals coming to get people out of it because it was becoming a fire hazard. They were getting saved. The fire marshals were getting saved. It was just absolutely out of control for the Lord. Larry Normans, Upon this Rock album, was already out. It was on the Verve label. It was the one where he looks like he’s in the Rapture flying through the clouds. All these bands began to emerge as they saw the example of what was happening with Love Song. And uh, the idea came up, “Let’s record these bands.’ But none of them have enough songs to do a whole album. So why don’t we just do a compilation? It will just be a little sample and we’ll get it out there to the people and show them this new kind of music. So the first Maranatha album was born. It was called “The EverlaStin’ Living Lovin Jesus concert”. Really long title. A white album with a red dove on the front. And uh, ultimately wound up producing that album. I didn’t start it, but I finished it. It was a compilation of the then current Calvary Chapel groups. As far as I know, it may have been the second contemporary Christian album out. There could have been something else in that slot between the Larry Norman and the first Maranatha album. It would be very interesting to find that out. But as far as I know, that would be the second album ever made that was contemporary. Love Song didn’t come out until 1972. We had two songs on the first Maranatha album but we actually rerecorded it for our album, which was the Love Song album. Right here. This is bigger than a little country church. This is the story of Calvary and what’s happening in the Jesus movement. And so then it got into, you know, some long hair, short hair, coats, and ties. People wound up coming throughout the nation. You know, and ultimately the world. Changing their ideas of what Christianity was like. Opening their mind to new ways that we could express our Christianity. And loving on those who didn’t look like them who have beards and all that. Shortly after that, it was actually more like a year and a half we’d been Christians. We got invited to an event called “Explo ‘72” in Dallas, Texas. They had invited a lot of the current kind of celebrity Christians like Johnny Cash. At that time, Chris Christopherson had “Why me Lord?” I guess they thought he was, may be a Christian. I don’t know. But there were a bunch of celebrity Christians there. Plus people like Larry Norman and Love Song were invited. And it was, the idea was to have a Christian Woodstock. And they did pretty well. There were well over a hundred thousand people there. We did our little hippie set. Right after we played, Billy Graham got up and spoke. I really feel like that was a defining moment in Christian music because for many people that were just like Chuck, cautious about whether the hippie thing was real or not. Are these guys really born again? To have Billy Graham come up after hippies played and preach to them was like a moment of truth. Like, well maybe if it’s okay with Billy, it’s okay with God. I really, I consider that to be a tipping point where drums in church, guitars and the current, well of those days, the musical style became sort of okay to pursue this type of music in church. Because it was “rock and roll”. It was born out of rebellion. And that’s what people thought about rock and roll but they saw through that moment that it could be used to communicate the gospel to a new generation. I really do think that moment was a defining moment in contemporary Christian music.

Chuck - When drums and guitars first hit the churches.