Christian music legend Larry Norman died Sunday of heart failure, according to his brother Charles Norman. He was 60.
Norman, a blonde, long-haired rocker who is often called the father of Christian rock music, was a giant in the Christian music industry, said Chris Willman, senior music writer for Entertainment Weekly.
"His influence outweighed his sales so much that it's comical," Willman said. "He certainly had a heart for evangelism almost to his detriment, I might say. He really could've been a star if he were singing about something other than Jesus."
Norman's 1972 Only Visiting This Planet album is regarded as one of the top contemporary Christian music albums of all time. His many hits were at the cutting edge, said Larry Eskridge, associate director of the Institute for the Study of American Evangelicals at Wheaton College.
"The song 'Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Music?' was one of his enduring trumpet blasts against the stodgy, old Christian establishment," Eskridge said. "'I Wish We'd All Been Ready' fit with the end times, apocalyptic feel that was in the air at the time."
"I Wish We'd All Been Ready" was also featured in the 1972 end times film A Thief in the Night. In concerts, the singer gave his trademark "One Way" gesture, pointing an index finger toward heaven.
Eskridge said Norman was an icon during the Jesus People of the 1960s but distanced himself from the movement when it became a fad and eventually faded.
Norman became less prominent on the music scene after suffering head injuries in an airplane accident 30 years ago, and he later had severe heart problems. He dictated a message to a friend just before his death.
"I feel like a prize in a box of Cracker Jacks with God's hand reaching down ...1