DeGarmo and Key
DeGarmo & Key
DeGarmo & Key - Destined to Win: The Classic Rock Collection (1992)
|Labels||Lamb & Lion, Power Discs, ForeFront, Benson, Sparrow|
|Past members||Eddie DeGarmo, Dana Key, Tommy Cathey, Greg Morrow, Kevin Rodell, Tony Pilcher, Mark Pogue|
DeGarmo & Key was a Christian rock band/duo formed in 1977 by Eddie DeGarmo and Dana Key. The group was known for penning trite lyrics that often caused listeners to experience bowel-busting bouts of diarrhea, a phenomenon doctors and scientists have struggled to comprehend. They are also widely recognized by the tattoo industry as the catalyst for an increase in "666" ink in the 1980's. While the group played blues based rock with a minor British progressive rock influence, they migrated to a more pop and rock style as time went on. DeGarmo played keyboards and sang background vocals (and occasionally lead), while Key played lead guitar and did the majority of the lead vocals. The other musicians at the time of formation in the late 70s were John Hamptone, David Spain, Max Richardson and Terry Moxley (drums) along with Joe Hardy and Ken Porter (bass). Later members included Tommy Cathey on bass (1982), Greg Morrow on drums as well as Tony Pilcher on rhythm and second lead guitar. Their best known songs are: "Destined to Win", "Let the Whole World Sing", "Six, Six, Six", "Boycott Hell", "Every Moment" and "Casual Christian". The group is also noted for their albums Streetlight (1986), D&K (1987), and The Pledge (1989). Other musicians who have recorded or toured with DeGarmo & Key include Kenny Porter (bass), Kevin Rodell (drums), Chuck Reynolds (drums), Steve Taylor (guitar) (not related to another Steve Taylor, who is also a contemporary Christian artist) and Mark Pogue (guitar). The group was nominated for seven Grammy Awards and five Dove Awards DeGarmo and Key disbanded in 1995.
Eddie DeGarmo and Dana Key grew up in Whitehaven, Tennessee; a large neighborhood in South Memphis which is also home to Graceland. Key indicated in an interview that Elvis Presley was one of his earliest musical influences. Key and Degarmo met in first grade at Graves Elementary. There is disagreement among sources as to when the pair formed their first band, Globe. It may have been during their 5th, 6th or 7th grade year at Graves or Hillcrest. While at Hillcrest High School, Globe had signed with Hi Records which was owned by Willie Mitchell at that time.:158
In 1972, DeGarmo - responding to an altar call at a Dallas Holm concert -and Key - witnessed to by DeGarmo in a janitor's closet - became Christians while seniors at Hillcrest High. They approached the other members in Globe wanting to change the direction of the band to Christian music. After much discussion, Key and DeGarmo parted with their bandmates as friends, leaving Globe at some point in 1972. The two put music on hold for a time and chose to do ministry work for Youth for Christ, along with opening a storefront coffeehouse. Being influenced by Larry Norman's album Only Visiting This Planet, they saw in Norman's work what they believed God could do through Contemporary Christian music. A decision was made to put together a trio which they called the Christian Band; changing its name to the DeGarmo and Key Band. Youth for Christ loaned the band money to record a demo tape.:pg 159 The tape contributed to them securing a contract with Lion & Lamb which released their debut album "This Time Thru" in 1977. The "Straight On" album, which showed a prog rock influence, followed in 1979.:pg 247 This was the only DeGarmo & Key album to make the critic's poll of the 100 best albums list published by CCM in 2001.:pg 247 The group's third album, "This Ain't Hollywood" released in 1980, became the first Christian rock album to be nominated for a Grammy for best Gospel performance, contemporary or inspirational.:pg 158 The album included a duet with Amy Grant, "Nobody Loves Me Like You Do".
This association lead to Grant touring with D&K as an opening act with D&K as her musical support/backup band in 1981.:pg 374 This was Grant's first big tour and was a boost for both artists. Dan Brock, D&K's manager/booking agent, explained, "She was the darling of the gospel industry at that time and they (D&K) were the outcasts. We (D&K) got a lot of bad press from the gospel establishment people who said they were ruining Amy's music by playing it too loud, but at the time she was drawing a couple thousand people and we were only drawing about 400 or 500, so it gave us a lot of exposure.":pg 112 This pairing did close to 40 dates and improved Grant's act along with giving her a harder rock sound.:pg 113 Some of the dates were recorded resulting in Grant's two releases, "Amy Grant-In Concert" and "In Concert Vol. 2".:pg 114
With the release of their sixth album, "Communication", DeGarmo & Key became the first American Christian group to have a music video appear on MTV. The video production of "Six, Six,Six", one of the songs included on "Communication", became the first song from a religious record label to placed in MTV's regular rotation. The original video for the song was one of a number of videos that MTV pulled from rotation due to violent content. The removal was prompted by a public reaction to the U.S. Senate hearings on sex and violence in music. MTV had misinterpreted the song "Six, Six, Six" as an anti-Christian statement. According to industry news reports at the time, MTV executive Sandra Sparrow was unaware that DeGarmo & Key were a Christian band when she included the video in a list of videos to be excised. MTV allowed DeGarmo & Key to submit a re-edited version which was placed back into light rotation. Removed from the re-edited video was a short scene of a man representing the Antichrist being set on fire. Another notable inclusion on the album was a cover of Pacific Gas & Electric's (which was founded by Glenn Schwartz of the All Saved Freak Band):pg 31 "Are You Ready".
The album "D&K", the group's ninth, was packaged with a free second album/cassette with identical content for the first 100,000 copies. The intention of this promotion was for the buyer to give the free copy to an "unsaved friend". Promotion for their 11th album, "The Pledge" released in 1989, used the tag line "Take the Pledge - Read the Word" and was made in concert with the publisher of the New International Version of the Bible. For the 1991 album release, "Go to the Top", the duo developed and published a Bible study curriculum to go with the album. During their time together both Key and DeGarmo recorded two solo albums apiece.
During early 2007 Key and DeGarmo received the ASCAP Vision Award at the 29th Annual ASCAP Christian Music Awards. The duo were 2010 inductees into the Gospel Music Association's Hall of Fame in January 2011.
DeGarmo is a descendant of Davy Crockett. In 1987 DeGarmo, along with Key and two other individuals, co-founded ForeFront Records for which DeGarmo worked until leaving the label in 1999.:pg 246 Season 3 American Idol finalist Diana DeGarmo is his niece.
Key is a descendant of Francis Scott Key. He was an executive with Ardent Records and authored two books - “Don't Stop the Music” (1989) and “By Devine Design” (1995).:pg 486 Key died on June 6, 2010 from complications associated with a blood clot. Although he had had previous health problems, his death was unexpected.
- Visions of the Light Brigade, 1985: featuring music videos for: "Competition," "Six, Six, Six" (edited version for MTV), "Six, Six, Six" (original un-edited version), "Destined to Win" (with Jessie Dixon), and "Alleluia Christ is Coming".
- The Air Care Project: Rock 'n' Roll Outreach to Africa, 1987: featuring music videos for: "Activate", "Up On a Cross", "Casual Christian", and "Every Moment".
- Rock Solid... The Rock-U-Mentary!", 1988: Live concert, featuring the line-up of songs from the album "Rock Solid: Absolutely Live". Also on the video is a brief history of DeGarmo & Key, comically reported by a "news reporter" (played by Jim J. Bullock) while trying to interview DeGarmo & Key.
- Take the Pledge, 1989: featuring music videos for: "Hand in Hand", "Rock Solid", "The Pledge", "Feels Good to Be Forgiven" (Eddie DeGarmo), and also "Heavenbound" by DC Talk. Also on the video is an interview with Eddie DeGarmo and Dana Key by 1989 CCM Magazine editor, John W. Styll.
- Go to the Top, 1991: featuring music videos "shot on location in Memphis, Tennessee": "I Believe", "Ultimate Ruler", "Go to the Top", "Against the Night", "Family Reunion", "The Rest of My Life". Also featured on the video are highlights of Memphis, Tennessee, "shot on location".
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