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The Legacy of Rich Mullins's Ragamuffin Band

Producer Reed Arvin remembers the fearless, soulful musician whose music challenged and transcended Christian pop.
The Legacy of Rich Mullins's Ragamuffin Band

This week marks the twentieth anniversary of Rich Mullins's landmark recording A Liturgy, a Legacy, and a Ragamuffin Band. Anyone who bought that record, or many other recordings by Mullins before his death in a car accident in 1997, was bound to see another name in the liner notes, that of producer Reed Arvin. Arvin, who has spent his years since working with Mullins as a novelist writing legal thrillers as well as teaching and writing on creativity, recently took time to reflect on working with Mullins and the recording of that album.

I assume you met Rich Mullins on the road touring as a keyboardist with Amy Grant. How did you become his producer?

I did meet Rich on the road. I don't recall the city, but I recall seeing him for the first time. He was wearing a dark overcoat and looked pretty disheveled, but in an intentional way. I shook his hand but had no idea the role we would eventually play in each other's lives. I don't think I saw him again for a year or so.

Eventually, Mike Blanton, Amy's manager, asked me quite spontaneously, "Do you think you could produce a record for Rich Mullins?"

What would you say your approach to producing was? Specifically, what did you add to Mullins's songs that wouldn't have been there otherwise?

I cared about the song more than the artist, which is not smart for a producing career. My approach was simply, "What is the emotional core of this song, and how can I bring that forward?" I really wanted to feel things listening to music. Still do.

The early records were a bit catastrophic; neither Rich nor I had any real idea what we were doing. I was in love with experimenting at a time when experimenting wasn't economically ...

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The Legacy of Rich Mullins's Ragamuffin Band
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