Christian rock is a musical genre that has grown in popularity over the past few decades. However, the history of this genre is often overlooked and misunderstood. In this blog post, we explore the untold story of the rise of Christian rock. Let’s dive into the history of Christian rock and its influence on contemporary music, from its origins in the Jesus movement to its mainstream success in the 1980s and 1990s.
We start by tracing the origins of Christian rock and looking at the beginnings of the genre. We explore how young Christian musicians began experimenting with rock music as a way to reach their peers during the Jesus movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s. We also explore the challenges faced by Christian rock bands faced when they debuted, including the lack of venues and record companies willing to sign them.
From there, we enter the golden age of Christian rock, when the genre enjoyed unprecedented growth and mainstream success. We also explore the controversies surrounding Christian rock, including debates over the meaning of rock music in a Christian context. Finally, we examine the legacy of Christian rock and its continued influence on modern music and culture.
Table of Contents
Origins of Christian Rock
The origins of Christian rock can be traced back to the beginning of the Jesus movement in the late 1960s and early 1970s. This movement was a Christian revival that swept across the United States and focused on reaching and evangelizing the youth. The Jesus movement was characterized by a rejection of traditional church practices and a focus on modern worship and music.
Around that time, many young Christian musicians started experimenting with rock music as a way to reach their peers. One of the earliest examples of Christian rock is the band Love Song, founded in 1970 in Southern California. Love Song’s music was heavily influenced by the Beatles and other popular rock bands of the time but had a Christian message.
The Beginning of Christian Rock
In the early days of Christian rock, the genre was largely ignored by the mainstream music industry. Christian rock bands had trouble finding venues, and record companies were reluctant to sign them. Despite these challenges, the genre continued to grow in popularity, and new bands emerged in the 1970s and 1980s.
One of the most important early Christian rock bands was Petra, formed in 1972 in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Petra’s music was heavily influenced by progressive rock, with an emphasis on complex instrumentation and complex song structures. Petra’s early albums were mainly distributed to bookstores and Christian churches, but eventually, the band signed a label and went mainstream in the 1980s.
The Golden Age of Christian Rock
The 1980s and early 1990s are often referred to as the “Golden Age” of Christian rock. During this time, the genre has seen unprecedented growth and mainstream success. Bands like Stryper, White Heart, and DC Talk achieved massive commercial success, selling millions of albums and playing arenas around the world.
The success of Christian rock during this period was largely due to the emergence of Christian radio stations and record companies. These organizations provided a platform for Christian rock bands to reach a wider audience and helped build a strong fan base for the genre.
Christian Rock Controversies
Despite its mainstream success, Christian rock has always been a controversial genre. Some Christians claim that rock music is inherently evil and that Christian rock is a compromise with the devil. Others argue that Christian rock sounds too much like secular rock and doesn’t offer a clear enough message.
One of the most famous controversies surrounding Christian rock occurred in 1985 when a group of parents in California filed a lawsuit against the band Stryper. Parents claimed that Stryper’s music was too loud and violent and caused physical and mental harm to their children. The lawsuit was ultimately dismissed, but it shed light on the ongoing debate about the meaning of Christian rock.
Another controversy surrounding Christian rock was the so-called “back-masking” scare of the 1980s. Some parents and Christian pastors claimed that certain rock songs contained hidden messages when played backward and that these messages were often satanic or anti-Christian. Although there is little evidence to support these claims, the controversy has helped spark debate about the meaning of Christian rock.
Christian Rock Legacy
Despite the controversies surrounding Christian rock, the genre has had a profound effect on contemporary music. Many successful mainstream rock bands, such as Switchfoot and Skillet, started out as Christian rock bands. Christian rock has also influenced the sound and style of many modern worship songs, emphasizing modern instrumentation and a more upbeat sound.
In addition to its musical influence, Christian rock has significantly influenced Christian culture more broadly. He helped create a vibrant and diverse community of Christian music lovers and provided a platform for young Christian musicians to explore their faith and express themselves creatively.
The story of Christian rock before fame is a fascinating and often forgotten chapter in the history of modern music. Christian rock has deeply influenced contemporary music and culture, from the Jesus movement to the mainstream success of the 1980s and 1990s. Although Christian rock has faced its fair share of controversy and criticism over the years, it remains a vibrant and influential genre today.
Q: What is Christian Rock?
A: Christian rock is a genre of music that combines rock music with Christian lyrics and themes.
Q: When did Christian rock start?
A: Christian rock started in the late 1960s and early 1970s during the Jesus movement.
Q: What challenges did early Christian rock bands face?
A: Christian rock bands had no venues and no record companies willing to sign them.
Q: What controversies have there been around Christian rock?
A: Christian rock was controversial at first, with some Christians questioning the wisdom of using rock music to worship God. Subsequent controversies included claims of “cover-ups” and hidden messages in certain songs.
Q: What is the legacy of Christian rock?
A: Christian rock has had a significant impact on modern music and culture. It has influenced traditional rock bands and the sound of contemporary worship music. It has also created a vibrant and diverse community of Christian music fans and provided a platform for young Christian musicians to express themselves creatively.
Q: What are some famous Christian rock bands?
A: Some famous Christian rock bands include Switchfoot, Skillet, and Third Day.
Q: Is Christian rock still popular today?
A: Yes, Christian rock is still a popular genre today, with many successful bands and a dedicated fan base.