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He was only visiting this planet

Larry Norman 8/4/1947 - 24/2/2008

Long haired American musician, singer, songwriter, producer and Christian radical from the 60s and 70s Larry Norman died yesterday.

His second studio album, Only Visiting This Planet, produced with assistance from Beatles producer George Martin became theme music for the Jesus Movement and caused controversy among many conservative Christians when it was released in 1972.

Born in Texas in 1947 Norman moved to California with his family at the age of three and became fascinated with the music of Elvis Presley.

He frequently accompanied his father on Christian missions to prisons and hospitals and, at the age of nine, began writing and performing original rock and roll songs at school, experimenting and incorporating a spiritual message into his music.

“I wanted to push aside the traditional gospel quartet music, break down the church doors and let the hippies and the prostitutes and other unwashed rabble into the sanctuary,” Norman said.

“I wanted to talk about feeding the poor, going into the world…[I felt that] most of the modern music was anaemic and needed a transfusion."

In 2001 Norman was inducted along with Elvis Presley into the Gospel Music Association’s Hall of Fame and in 2007 Norman was inducted into the San Jose Rocks Hall of Fame.

Norman raised the ire of many conservatives in the Gospel music industry not only because of his music but also for the company he kept.

"The churches weren’t going to accept me looking like a street person with long hair and faded jeans. They did not like the music I was recording. And I had no desire to preach the gospel to the converted.”

Norman died holding the hand of his brother alternative rock guitarist Charles Norman a member of the band Guards of Metropolis.

“We spent this past week laughing, singing, and praying with him, and all the while he had us taking notes on new song ideas and instructions on how to continue his ministry and art,” Charles Norman said.

Just before his death Norman dictated a message to his friend Allen Fleming who typed these words into Larry Norman’s computer.

“I feel like a prize in a box of cracker jacks with God’s hand reaching down to pick me up,” Norman said.

“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.

“My plan is to be buried in a simple pine box with some flowers inside."

Goodbye, farewell, we’ll meet again
Somewhere beyond the sky.
I pray that you will stay with God
Goodbye, my friends, goodbye.

LIsten to the legendary evangelistic anthem "Why Don’t You Look Into Jesus" from the Only Visiting this Planet album HERE.

Photo : Larry Norman 8/4/1947 – 24/2/2008