Solid Rock Records

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Solid Rock Records
Founded 1975
Founder Larry Norman
Distributor(s) Word Records
Genre Various
Country of origin US

Solid Rock Records is the record label of Larry Norman. It was set up in 1975 to distribute his own work, after he had been released by Capitol Records. Solid Rock had a distribution deal with Word Records until 1980.

Besides releasing his own work, other artists like Randy Stonehill, Tom Howard, Mark Heard, Daniel Amos, Pantano & Salsbury (formerly known as the J.C. Power Outlet), and Salvation Air Force were signed to his label. Larry Norman also worked with David Edwards (ex-J.C. Power Outlet), who finally got to release his debut recording, a self-titled album on Myrrh Records in 1980, as well as the British artist Steve Scott. Scott recorded one album, Moving Pictures, produced by Norman and Heard, that in the end was put on the shelf.

History[edit]

Origins[edit]

Strongly influenced by Christian philosopher Francis Schaeffer,[1] and his community at L'Abri in Switzerland, which Norman had visited with his wife Pamela on his honeymoon in 1972,[2] and "possibly inspired by the Apple imprint of The Beatles",[3] in 1974 Norman founded Solid Rock Records to produce records for Christian artists who, like himself, had "no commercial value."[4] Norman intended Solid Rock to be "a "musical L'Abri",[1] and "more than business though, it was community."[5] "Solid Rock became an important moment in the history of Christian rock music since it was the first truly artist-driven label".[6] According to Norman, the purpose of Solid Rock was "to help other artists who didn't want to be consumed by the business of making vinyl pancakes but who wanted to make something 'non-commercial' to the world".[7] Solid Rock "was a community of shared ideas and discussion. Artists would work on each other's projects and even tour together. It seems to have been a place where they were trying to create art that would cross over. Larry Norman in particular had a desire to not simply create Christian music but music that was from a Christian worldview that would stand up in the mainstream and that people could accept and be challenged by".[8] According to Solid Rock alumnus Tom Howard: "We ate together, laughed together, cried together, travelled together. It wasn't like a cult or anything; I mean we'd go off to our own families and our own pockets of friendships but there was definitely a sense of gathering among that small handful of artists".[9]

Solid Rock implosion (1980)[edit]

In addition to his own recordings, Larry Norman produced music for several artists on his Solid Rock label: Randy Stonehill, Mark Heard, Tom Howard,[8] Pantano/Salsbury, and Salvation Air Force.[10][11] Norman also produced artists who were signed to other labels, such as Malcolm and Alwyn, Bobby Emmons and the Crosstones, and Lyrix. While Norman received production credits for two songs on Sheila Walsh's first album Future Eyes, he remixed the songs that were already recorded.[12] In 1977 Norman signed James Sundquist to Solid Rock,[13] which produced some of the songs on Sundquist's Freedom Flight, an album that blended ragtime and ballads, that was later released by Pat Boone's Lamb & Lion label.[14] About 1978 Norman produced an album, Moving Pictures, for British poet and musician Steve Scott that was never released.[15]

Daniel Amos (1978-1980)[edit]

In December 1978 Norman signed Christian rock band Daniel Amos to Street Level Productions and also to his Street Level Artists Agency.[16] Daniel Amos had almost completed Horrendous Disc, their third album, co-produced by Mike "Clay" Stone, when under contract to Maranatha! Music. When Maranatha! released them, as it was changing direction to children's and praise music, Horrendous Disc still needed to be mixed.[17] Norman asked the band to replace two songs, had the album mixed and took new photos of the band for the album's cover to replace those he deemed too controversial for the Christian market,[18] and in September 1979, Norman released a test pressing.[19] In mid-May 1980 Norman released Daniel Amos from their management contract with Street Level Productions,[20] resulting in an estrangement in their relationship.[21] Just before the finalization of his divorce from Pamela, in August 1980,[22] Norman performed at the Kamperland Youth for Christ Music festival (now the Flevo Totaal Festival) in Zeeland the Netherlands with Daniel Amos band backing him.[23] Due to the laryngitis of Terry Scott Taylor, lead singer of Daniel Amos, Norman sang their songs from Horrendous Disc with the rest of Daniel Amos backing him so that Daniel Amos could be paid.[24]

At the Greenbelt Festival held a few days later, Daniel Amos refused to back Norman as previously agreed due to their unfolding legal action against Norman, forcing Norman to recruit another group of musicians.[25] During this performance, Norman sang for the first time, "May Your Feet Stay On The Path",[26] as a beatific benediction to the Solid Rock artists he had released.[25] Norman explained in 2001: "It's a song I wrote for all my artists because I wasn't going to work with them any more. So I stayed up one night praying all night and working on this song asking God to help me bless the artists one more time so that they would know that I loved them even if I didn't want to work with them".[25] Despite being advertised as soon available in November 1979,[27] Horrendous Disc was not finally released by Solid Rock until 10 April 1981,[28] ten days before the band's follow-up ¡Alarma!, was released on Newpax Records.[29] In 2000 Norman sang "Hound of Heaven" on the Daniel Amos tribute album, When Worlds Collide: A Tribute to Daniel Amos.[30]

June 17, 1980 meeting[edit]

In June 1980 the Solid Rock community imploded due to concerns about delays in releasing albums, royalties and publishing rights, and Norman's personal life.[31] One of the areas of disagreement within Solid Rock was over their philosophy of ministry.[9] The concerns of Stonehill, Taylor and Howard and other Solid Rock musicians led to an intervention on June 17, 1980 with Norman organized by Philip F. Mangano, the Solid Rock business manager.[31][32] According to Rimmer, Fallen Angel claims that "it was at this memorable meeting that Larry, rather than bowing to the concerns of his fellow artists and the Solid Rock family, chose to strike out. With accusations against his co-workers, he began the process of winding up the Solid Rock operation and the dreams of the artistic community came crashing down."[33]

Norman and Mangano severed their business association,[34] with Norman selling his interest in Street Level Artists Agency to Mangano,[35] who subsequently resigned in October 1980 to start a new career in working to help the homeless,[36] and becoming the Executive Director of the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness for seven years from March 2002,[37]

American Christian rock historian John J. Thompson identifies several factors in the collapse of Solid Rock, including possibly an over reliance on Norman's celebrity; Norman's confrontational lyrics and music, which alienated both the Christian and mainstream music industries; Norman's over-commitment, including producing almost all of the Solid Rock albums, contributing songs, and singing backing vocals; and "by releasing high-quality music by the best bands, Norman doomed his label to almost certain failure. He was simply way ahead of the curve".[38] Additionally, the emergence of several punk-influenced Christian bands in the late 1970s, who "cranked out music that made Larry Norman and Love Song look like antiques. Some of them even considered the members of Daniel Amos to be geezers".[38]

American professor of religious history Randall Balmer believed that the causes of the demise of Solid Rock were "Idealism, marital difficulties, and financial naivete — as well as changing musical tastes".[39] Stonehill opined in 1994: "As artistically heady as the days at Solid Rock were ... and as good as the ideas were on paper, the business end was always very loose-knit. ... We were young guys with good ideas but not a whole lot of business sense".[40] Norman acknowledged in a 1984 interview: "I've never been really good in the business side of it. I haven't had a problem with creativity but I've never had the business side of it together."[41] In a 1998 letter to Randy Stonehill, Norman indicated:

"I DIDN'T DO IT RIGHT: You know I never cared about money, so it's something I never worried about. Which was probably not helpful to running a record company and keeping track of everything to the artists' satisfaction. ... I couldn't run the label without competent assistants. I trusted Philip [Mangano] to keep track of royalties, gave him an open checkbook, and never looked over his shoulder. I thought he was my other half. And Philip just wasn't that man. He made a lot of money ... and I'm sorry about your royalties, but I ran the musical side and Philip ran the business side".[42]

Norman gave his rationale for the winding up of Solid Rock Records in a 1989 interview: "I couldn't run Solid Rock Records anymore because of my mental condition due to an accident, I couldn't concentrate. I couldn't finish anybody's album. I couldn't get any work done in the office, it was just real hard. And I'd already done the one album for each artist that I'd promised, and I wanted to liberate them and get them signed up with a real big record company. But they all wanted to stay together because that was what they knew....I hadn't intended to produce any second albums for any of the artists. They were all out of contract. My contract wasn't really a contract to hold them to me. I had a contract with them because Word required it of Solid Rock. So, I just gave them their contract back as soon as their album was out. There was a lot of personal strife in everybody's life. My wife had decided she wanted to marry somebody else and all of the artists at the same time were leaving their wives,[43] and I just thought this was an appropriate time for introspection. I didn't want to be up on stage and having kids come back afterwards and ask me why everyone was getting divorced.[44] The tensions of the Solid Rock community resulted in the fracturing of several personal and professional relationships, Norman's departure overseas, the dispersal of the Solid Rock artists to other labels, and to the formation of Phydeaux Records. Norman became "a musical hermit, ceasing relationships with record companies and focusing on selling his music directly to his fans through the mail".[38]

By October 1981 Norman was still represented by Word and the only artist signed to Solid Rock.[45] In a 1982 interview with British Christian musician Norman Miller, then Executive Director of Word Europe,[46] Norman discussed both the original purpose for Solid Rock and its future:

I have very few plans for Solid Rock at all. Originally, I started Solid Rock as a way of helping other young artists become established. My plan has always been to provide them with an intense education, support their efforts with concerts and record production, and then graduate them into the mainstream where they can stand on their own feet. I've been able to get Randy Stonehill to the point where Myrrh Records has signed him directly, while others, like Mark Heard, Tom Howard, and Daniel Amos have all signed with different American companies like New Pax. I've helped about fifteen people get contracts so far, and all the old Solid Rock crowd has graduated and I'm working with new and younger artists now.[47]

Post 1980[edit]

In February 1992, Norman had a heart attack and limited the activities of his record label until his death in 2008, but work continues to release CD versions of archival material from the 1970s.

Selected Solid Rock Records discography[edit]

See also[edit]

References and notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Michael S. Hamilton, "The Dissatisfaction of Francis Schaeffer, Part 2", Christianity Today (3 March 1997), http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/1997/march3/7t322b.html
  2. ^ Norman's 1973 song "Song for Pamela" (Fly, Fly, Fly), references their honeymoon and their visit to L'Abri. See Barry Hankins, Francis Schaeffer and the Shaping of Evangelical America (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2008):61.
  3. ^ John J. Thompson, Raised by Wolves: The Story of Christian Rock & Roll (ECW Press, 2000):50.
  4. ^ http://christianmusic.about.com/od/musicnews/a/larrynormanobit.htm; "Larry Norman's Snakeskin Boots", http://talesfromthelaboratory.typepad.com/tales_from_the_microbial_/2007/09/larry-normans-s.html
  5. ^ Mike Rimmer, "Larry Norman: The David Di Sabatino's Fallen Angel documentary", Cross Rhythms (28 March 2010), http://www.crossrhythms.co.uk/articles/music/Larry_Norman_The_David_Di_Sabatinos_Fallen_Angel_documentary/39066/p4/
  6. ^ John J. Thompson, Raised by Wolves: The Story of Christian Rock & Roll (ECW Press, 2000):51.
  7. ^ Larry Norman in Jay R. Howard and John M. Streck, Apostles of Rock: The Splintered World of Contemporary Christian Music (University Press of Kentucky, 2004):163.
  8. ^ a b Mike Rimmer, "Tom Howard: From Jesus Music Pioneer to Behind-the-Scenes Virtuoso", Cross Rhythms (28 November 2008), http://www.crossrhythms.co.uk/articles/music/Tom_Howard_From_Jesus_music_pioneer_to_behindthescenes_virtuoso/34447/p1/
  9. ^ a b Tom Howard, in Mike Rimmer, "Tom Howard: From Jesus Music Pioneer to Behind-the-Scenes Virtuoso", Cross Rhythms (28 November 2008), http://www.crossrhythms.co.uk/articles/music/Tom_Howard_From_Jesus_music_pioneer_to_behindthescenes_virtuoso/34447/p1/
  10. ^ [1][dead link]
  11. ^ Donnie Gossett, "Larry Norman 1947-2008" (February 24, 2008), http://www.donniegossett.com/News/News2008/News2008.html
  12. ^ Sheila Walsh, I'm Not Wonder Woman But God Made Me Wonderful! (Thomas Nelson Inc, 2008):17-18.
  13. ^ "Folk Concert", Tri City Herald [Pasco, Kennewick, Richland, WA] (16 September 1977):14.
  14. ^ ; "About James Sundquist", http://superstore.wnd.com/store/item.asp?ITEM_ID=3281; Bryan Ness, "James Sundquist (and Noel Paul Stookey) - Freedom Flight (1977)" (4 April 2010), http://nessessarymusic.blogspot.com/2010/04/james-sundquist-and-noel-paul-stookey.html; "Lamb & Lion Discography", http://www.bsnpubs.com/word/lambandlion/lamblion.html; http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_aGSj8CksbS8/S7hC6os0nyI/AAAAAAAAAN4/2FPiAw-zNv0/s1600/back.jpg; "Billboard's Recommended LPs", Billboard (4 June 1977):78; "James Sundquist Biography", http://rock-to-salt.cephasministry.com/biography.html
  15. ^ "Gord Wilson, An Interview with Steve Scott", (April 2007), http://www.alivingdog.com/SteveInt.html.
  16. ^ Brian Quincy Newcomb, "Terry S. Taylor: The HRS INTERVIEW", PART I, HRS (1991), http://www.danielamos.com/articles/terrytay1.html; "Timeline:1978", http://www.danielamos.com/timeline78.html
  17. ^ "Timeline:1978", http://www.danielamos.com/timeline78.html
  18. ^ John J. Thompson, Raised by Wolves: The Story of Christian Rock & Roll (E.C.W., 2000):79.
  19. ^ "Timeline: 1979", http://www.danielamos.com/timeline79.html; Karen Marie Platt, "Daniel Amos: What Ever Happened To Horrendous Disc? The Strange Unusual Saga Of Daniel Amos", CCM Magazine (March 1981), http://www.danielamos.com/articles/whatever.html
  20. ^ "Timeline: 1980", http://www.danielamos.com/timeline80.html Referring obliquely to Daniel Amos and Randy Stonehill, who were touring together as part of the "Amos and Randy Tour", in 1993 Norman indicated he was forced to terminate his management contracts because he was "speechless and confused" about the band's (and Stonehill's) on-the-road demeanor including "drinking and cigar smoking and raw humor". See "Linear Notes", Larry Norman, Footprints in the Sand CD (1993)
  21. ^ Terry Taylor disputes Norman's version of events. See Brian Quincy Newcomb, "Terry S. Taylor :The HRS INTERVIEW", Part II HRS (1991), http://www.danielamos.com/articles/terrytay2.html.
  22. ^ The festival was held 12–17 August 1980. See Frans Faase, http://www.iwriteiam.nl/Frans.html
  23. ^ Two of Norman's songs and three spoken pieces from this concert were included in GMI's 1992 album, Flevo Totaal Live Tapes Volume 1. See Robert Termorshuizen., "Flevo Totaal Festival (1992)", http://www.meetjesushere.com/Flevo_Totaal.htm
  24. ^ Larry Norman in Michael Cash and Steve Mason, "Is Larry Norman Through?", VOG (1995), http://www.onlyvisiting.com/larry/interviews/VOG/larry.html; Larry Norman in Dougie Adams, unpublished interview with Larry Norman, (August 2001), http://solidrockarmy.activeboard.com/forum.spark?aBID=108066&p=3&topicID=28025780
  25. ^ a b c Larry Norman in Dougie Adams, unpublished interview with Larry Norman, (August 2001), http://solidrockarmy.activeboard.com/forum.spark?aBID=108066&p=3&topicID=28025780
  26. ^ It was recorded in the studio (probably at Chapel Lane in 1981), but not released until 2003's Rock, Scissors et Papier (2003) where it was listed as "Positively Like a Servant". See Robert Termorshuizen, "Rock, Scissors et Papier (2003)", http://www.meetjesushere.com/rock,.htm See also CD-booklet for Rock Scissors et Papier.
  27. ^ "Timeline: 1979", http://www.danielamos.com/timeline79.html
  28. ^ "Timeline: 1981", http://www.danielamos.com/timeline81.html
  29. ^ "Timeline: 1981", http://www.danielamos.com/timeline81.html; Karen Marie Platt, "Daniel Amos: What Ever Happened To Horrendous Disc? The Strange Unusual Saga Of Daniel Amos", CCM Magazine (March 1981), http://www.danielamos.com/articles/whatever.html
  30. ^ "Timeline: 2000", http://www.danielamos.com/timeline00.html; Daniel Macintosh, "Artists Celebrate the Music of Terry Scott Taylor and Daniel Amos", True Tunes News (August 2000), http://www.danielamos.com/articles/truetunes00.html
  31. ^ a b John Cody, "Angel Tells Tragic Tale of Larry Norman", BC Christian News, http://www.canadianchristianity.com/bc/bccn/0709/20angel.html
  32. ^ Larry Norman, audio recording, indicates the meeting was on June 17, 1980. See http://www.weebly.com/uploads/7/0/9/5/7095730/philip_manganos_coup_detat.mp3
  33. ^ Mike Rimmer, "Larry Norman: The David Di Sabatino's Fallen Angel Documentary", Cross Rhythms (28 March 2010), http://www.crossrhythms.co.uk/articles/music/Larry_Norman_The_David_Di_Sabatinos_Fallen_Angel_documentary/39066/p4/
  34. ^ "Timeline: 1980", http://www.danielamos.com/timeline80.html
  35. ^ Bob Gersztyn, "Randy Stonehill", in W. K. McNeil, ed., Encyclopedia of American Gospel Music (Routledge, 2005):377.
  36. ^ Douglas McGray, "The Abolitionist", Atlantic Magazine (June 2004), http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2004/06/the-abolitionist/2969/
  37. ^ "Biography Philip F. Mangano", http://www.partnersendinghomelessness.org/docs/ManganoBiography.pdf; David Neff, "Abolishing Homelessness in Ten Years", Christianity Today 53:5 (May 2009):52, http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2009/may/30.52.html; Peter Goonan, "Former Director of US Interagency Council on Homelessness Philip F. Mangano Praises Springfield", The Republican (23 May 2009), http://www.masslive.com/news/index.ssf/2009/05/former_director_of_us_interage.html; "Phil Mangano", http://www.donniegossett.com/Where/M-O/M-O.html
  38. ^ a b c John J. Thompson, Raised by Wolves: The Story of Christian Rock & Roll (E.C.W., 2000):51.
  39. ^ Randall Herbert Balmer, Encyclopedia of Evangelicalism (Westminster John Knox Press, 2002):411.
  40. ^ Randy Stonehill in Jay R. Howard, John M. Streck, Apostles of Rock: The Splintered World of Contemporary Christian Music (University of Kentucky, 2004):163; Randy Stonehill in David Vanderpool, "RANDY STONEHILL: The New Project: Street Level, Label For A Small Circle Of Friends", Visions Of Gray (October 1994), http://www.nifty-music.com/stonehill/vog1094.html
  41. ^ Larry Norman in Martin Wroe, "The Height of Norman Wisdom", Strait Magazine (October 1984), http://www.larrynorman.uk.com/word31.htm
  42. ^ Larry Norman, letter to Randy Stonehill (4 November 1998), http://www.failedangle.com/site/randy/LetterToRandy7.pdf[dead link]
  43. ^ The Daniel Amos website denies Norman's account of divorces by Solid Rock artists. See "Timeline:1980", http://www.danielamos.com/timeline80.html
  44. ^ Larry Norman in Brian Quincy Newcomb, "Larry Norman: The Long Journey Home", CCM (June 1989), http://www.geocities.com/sunsetstrip/club/1150/lnorman20yrs.html[dead link]
  45. ^ Billboard (3 October 1981):45.
  46. ^ "Norman Miller", http://www.propermgmt.com/aboutus.htm
  47. ^ Larry Norman, "Norman Miller Interview 1982", http://dagsrule.com/stuff/larry/intvw82.html