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“Father Of Christian Rock” Larry Norman Releases Compelling New Book

By April 16, 2018News

“The 1970’s Jesus Movement era was a pivotal time in church history. Larry Norman’s relevant style of music defied tradition then and still gives us powerful truths to consider today.  Often referred to as “the Father of Christian Rock”, Larry Norman was a trailblazer, firmly securing his induction into in the Gospel Music Association’s Hall of Fame in 2001. This book captures the story of a man whose path was unconventional yet rooted in faith.”Jackie Patillo, President & Executive Director, Gospel Music Association


In 1969, in Capitol Records’ Hollywood studio, a blonde-haired troubadour named Larry Norman laid track for an album that would launch a new genre of music and one of the strangest careers in modern rock. Having spent the bulk of his young career playing on bills with acts like the Who, Janis Joplin, and the Doors, Norman decided he wanted to sing about a subject that was a departure for a rising star in ’60s rock: Jesus.

The Convergent Publishing Group is thrilled to share the story of Larry Norman’s becoming, WHY SHOULD THE DEVIL HAVE ALL THE GOOD MUSIC? (On Sale March 20, 2018), the riveting account of the “Father of Christian Rock” and the conflicts that launched a billion-dollar Christian music industry at the dawn of America’s culture wars. 

Billboard called Norman “the most important songwriter since Paul Simon,” and his music inspired members of bands as diverse as U2, The Pixies, Guns ‘N Roses, and more. To a young generation of Christians seeking a way to be different in the American cultural scene, Larry was a godsend—spinning songs about one’s eternal soul as deftly as ones critiquing consumerism, middle-class values, and the Vietnam War. To the religious establishment, he was a thorn in the side; sparring with televangelists over the future of Christianity in America. And to secular listeners, he was an enigma, constantly offering up Jesus to problems they didn’t believe were problems. Paul McCartney himself once told Larry, “You could be famous if you’d just drop the God stuff.” Larry himself thought Jesus wanted him to defy both the church and the world.

WHY SHOULD THE DEVIL HAVE ALL THE GOOD MUSIC?, draws on unparalleled access to Norman’s personal archives to narrate the conflicts that defined his life as he crisscrossed the developing fault lines between Evangelicals and American pop culture. What emerges is a twisting, engrossing story about ambition, art, friendship, betrayal, and the turns one’s life can take when you believe God is on your side. It’s a story that raises questions about whether faith, art, and commerce can peacefully co-exist—and what’s risked when you even try.


Open this book to be drawn in, pleasantly surprised, and uncomfortably challenged, just like a member of Norman’s original audience.“—Peter Thiel, investor, and author of ‘Zero to One’

“There’s a lot in this Larry Norman book I was curious about; I was both happy and unhappy to have Larry Norman’s earthly arc fully explained… Way Harder Than Vaudeville would be a good alternate title.  The world can be a pretty crummy place, but sometimes there are really nice people like Larry in it, somehow. If Norman was only visiting this planet, he did love it regardless.”
—Black Francis, songwriter and lead singer, Pixies

“Much of the emotion and movement in American popular music derives from Christian, church-based traditions. Despite that, rock musicians who have made explicit their Christian beliefs have often been treated like objects of discomfort. Larry Norman went headlong into that strange situation to create something unprecedented. This book, beautifully written, gives us the first real look into a man who broke down walls so that others might build homes.” 
—Warren Zanes, bestselling author of Petty: The Biography
“In delicious detail, Thornbury shows that even in Christian music, art and commerce have a hard time mixing successfully. He draws Norman beautifully, empathetically, and realistically, and as equal parts savior and narcissist are revealed, Thornbury allows the reader to see just how fine the line is between the two.”
—Allison Moorer, Grammy-nominated singer and songwriter

 “A mind-blowing portrait of evangelical Christianity’s one, and only, rock n’ roll wild child, a high-wire act of daring, revelation and empathy, as original as Larry Norman himself.”
—Charles Marsh, Professor of Religion and Society, University of Virginia, and author of Strange Glory: A Life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer 

“If there truly was a great crossroads where the devil traded souls for music, then Larry Norman must have made his own visit. If it’s true that no musical genre can thrive if it does not own its roots, then this book is required reading for artists who have waded into the faith-based genre without tracing its origins back to where it first sprang from the earth.” 

—Dan Haseltine, songwriter and producer, Jars of Clay and The Hawk in Paris

“In an American Idol world where trading on the name of Christ and unholy alliances with professional God-talkers can win you the White House, Gregory Alan Thornbury places before us a beautifully complicated Larry Norman, that enigmatic, trickster figure at the heart of the Jesus Movement. By doing so, he invites us to consider again the prophetic genius, the untamable poetic justice of Jesus of Nazareth, to whom Norman remained committed in spite of the dizzyingly false witness and geopolitical catastrophe conducted, even now, in his name. Hear Norman again, and have your senses restored.”
—David Dark, author of Life’s Too Short to Pretend You’re Not Religious


About The Author
Gregory Alan Thornbury has been a college professor, dean, and president of The King’s College in New York City. A popular writer and speaker on philosophy, religion, and contemporary culture, he currently serves at the New York Academy of Art.