I learned today that Larry Norman died. It's okay that you haven't heard of him. I hadn't for a long time either. Back in the 80's someone loaned me a vinyl album of Something New Under the Son and I was afraid I would wear it out. This was a fantastic electric blues album. I was irritated that I couldn't find my own copy for another seven years.
Larry has often been given the distinction as the father of the Jesus Movement but Larry was far more complex than that. Personally I might give that distinction to groups like Love Song. Again, I'm not pretending like you know what I'm talking about. I'm just talking out loud for your benefit.
Larry sang anti-establishment songs, anti-war songs, songs about love, life, death, Jesus. George Martin (Beatles director) helped direct the masterful album Only Visiting this Planet that is a 70's rock album that everyone should own.
I won't recount much of his life but I will say that if and when a biography comes out...it'll be unbelievable.
Larry had a bad heart. His heart trouble started from a blood clot that caused him to have the first of several heart attacks. He should've been dead years ago really. Many fans including myself helped with medical bills.
When he moved to Salem, Oregon he occasionally did concerts. I was in attendance for the one that was billed as his last (I went to another one a year later that included a reunion of his original 60's band People!) Larry was good enough for me to visit Oregon, something I wouldn't do for just anyone.
I spent a moment with Larry and I could tell he was tired. His health problems were diminishing his vision and his hands were wounded from medical procedures enough that simply shaking hands was too painful.
From his deathbed he dictated a letter that I've reread a few times and I'll include below:
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 finances 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.
Thanks for everything Larry.