Larry Norman, who led a San Jose band into the Top 40 before becoming a revolutionary force in Christian music, died Sunday in Salem, Ore. He was 60.
“He never tried to become the father of Christian rock,” says Charles Norman, a guitarist who toured the world with his older brother. “He was just talking about the world as he saw it.”
The man who asked the musical question, “Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Music?” moved to San Jose with his family as a child. In 1966, Mr. Norman formed the band People! with Gene Mason, Geoff Levin, Robb Levin, Albert Ribisi and Denny Fridkin.
With the band, Mr. Norman appeared on “American Bandstand” and toured the country with groups such as the Who. But as People! found success with its single “I Love You,” which hit No. 14 in Billboard in spring 1968, Mr. Norman left to embark on a solo career.
His first album, “Upon This Rock,” virtually defined the new genre of “Jesus Rock.” Mr. Norman’s rugged appearance and often gritty language appalled some conservative Christians as it galvanized countless young people.