The Forgotten History of Christian Rock: Part Five

Welcome to The Forgotten History of Christian Rock.

This is Part Five of a five part series exploring the history of Christian Rock and Roll Music.

To read Part One of the series focusing on the pioneers of the movement in the 1960s and 1970s click here.

To read Part Two where we looked at the popular rock bands of the 1980s and early 1990s click here.

To read Part Three covering the visionary bands of the 1980s and early 1990s click here.

To read Part Four covering the music of the late 1990s through the early 2000s, click here.

To read our intro where we explain some of the reasons we wanted to do this series click here.

Thank you so much for reading. Please feel free to comment below.

Part Five:
Where Do We Go From Here? by Phill Lytle
The mid/late 2000s through present

What has been the point of this series? Why have we spent the past month writing over 4,000 words and creating playlists with hundreds of songs?

To remember.

It really is that simple. As our scope has been laser-focused on the rock music genre, we realize that this leaves many artists unexplored. Many great artists that risk being forgotten just as much as the bands we have covered. There is a whole other series that needs to be written about those wonderful bands, singers, and performers in Christian music history that didn’t quite fit into what we were doing. Perhaps one day, we will tackle that topic. For now, we appreciate all the comments, questions, and suggestions we have received as we have released each new installment in this series. Our hope is that we, at the bare minimum, started a conversation. For reasons we will never understand, the Christian music world is seemingly the only one that actively forgets its history. That needs to stop. Based on the massive reaction we received from this series, it is clear there are many others who feel the same way.

That leads us to our next steps. Where do we go from here? Instead of writing another 1,000 words about the Christian bands and artists that are currently making what we consider to be the best music, we would rather let their music speak for itself. We would also like to invite you to join us by telling us about your favorite artists that don’t quite fit the CCM mold. We all know the Hillsongs, the Casting Crowns, the Toby Macs of the world. We want to move right outside of that space and show you a world of music created by artists, poets, and visionaries that will challenge and inspire. Artists like Andrew Peterson, John Mark McMillan, Josh Garrels, and many more. These artists carry the banner first picked up by Keith Green, PetraThe 77’s, and The Call. They carry on the legacy of excellence, artistry, and creativity. Let us do our best to not overlook this amazing music simply because it does not get played on the local FM station.


Phill Lytle

I love: Jesus, my wife, my kids, my church, my family, my friends, Firefly, 80's rock, Lost, the Tennessee Titans, the St. Louis Cardinals, Brandon Sanderson books, Band of Brothers, Thai food, music, books, movies, TV, writing, Arrested Development, pizza, vacation, etc...

19 thoughts on “The Forgotten History of Christian Rock: Part Five

  • March 12, 2018 at 9:35 pm

    I want this playlist on my account. Is there a way for me to “save” it to listen to without going through this article each time?

    Also, I love the last line: “Let us do our best to not overlook this amazing music simply because it does not get played on the local FM station.” There IS good music that is written and performed by Christians, and it’s a shame that so little of it gets radio time.

    • March 12, 2018 at 10:09 pm

      Yes. Just click on the Spotify icon and then when you’re in just follow it. After that, it should appear on the sidebar of your account.

  • March 13, 2018 at 4:14 pm

    I have just gone through all the playlists from this series and spent entirely too much money on iTunes. And I’m so excited about it!! Thanks again, guys. Loved every bit of this series!!

    • March 13, 2018 at 4:48 pm

      I’m glad you enjoyed it. It was a lot of fun putting this all together.

  • March 20, 2018 at 3:52 pm

    I shared this on Facebook a few days ago, but I think it deserves repeating:

    We highly recommend that people listen to each playlist – work through all of them from Playlist 1 to Playlist 5. Listen to the diversity in sound and style. No matter how much one might love current CCM radio, I promise that you will never hear this kind of variety on most popular CCM stations.

  • April 1, 2018 at 11:17 pm

    I like some of Angels & Airwaves songs. I would recommend their song entitled Heaven specifically. A fan made a great accompanying video for it. Good reminder of the beautiful and amazing world we’ve been given and to hold on to that sense of wonder, like a child has I suppose. Here’s the link:

    • April 3, 2018 at 10:27 am

      I wasn’t aware the Angels and Airwaves claimed to be Christians. I do like their music though.

  • Pingback:The Forgotten History of Christian Rock: Part One – Rambling Ever On

  • Pingback:The Forgotten History of Christian Rock: Part Three – Rambling Ever On

  • Pingback:The Forgotten History of Christian Rock: Part Two – Rambling Ever On

  • May 24, 2018 at 9:53 am

    After reading the April 2017 Petra article earlier this week, thanks to a Google search, I was made aware of this series (thank you, Phill!). Wow, there is a lot of music from the 1980s and earlier of which I was not aware. As I used to run the music department at a Christian bookstore (1997-1999), I knew there was a lot of unheard Christian music but pinning it all down has proved difficult. The Internet age has made it easier, of course, and iTunes did see an upsurge in older Christian acts in the last decade being made available.

    As a thank you to you guys and your readers, I have created playlists on Google Play Music that mimic (as best as possible) the Spotify playlists that were featured. I will link them in reply to this comment.

    Great job tracking down and highlighting music from the past. Perhaps the future is Internet radio where a “DJ” can educate listeners with a flick (double-click) of a button?

  • May 24, 2018 at 9:55 am

    As promised in my last comment, here are the playlists as I set them up in Google Play Music. Enjoy!

    Forgotten History of Christian Rock: Part 1

    Forgotten History of Christian Rock: Part 2
    (Missing from Google Play: The Brave’s “Tears from a Broken Heart,” from the album “Battle Cries”)

    Forgotten History of Christian Rock: Part 3
    (Missing The Throes’ “This Love Is an Ocean,” from the album, “All The Flowers Growing In Your Mother’s Eyes” from 1990.)

    Forgotten History of Christian Rock: Part 4

    Forgotten History of Christian Rock: Part 5

    Forgotten History of Christian Rock Complete (Parts 1-5)

    • May 24, 2018 at 10:15 am

      Thanks Michael! Can’t wait to listen to them.

      • May 24, 2018 at 11:36 am

        I have all of my playlists set to Public/Shared, so it’s possible there is music in my library that might be new to you, Phill. Right now, I am *really* enjoying Stryper’s God Damn Evil, which was released on April 20,2018. It is currently my 15 year-old’s favorite album, as well. Thanks again for the terrific blog series and for the five cool Spotify playlists.

  • Pingback:The Forgotten History of Christian Rock: Part Four – Rambling Ever On

  • July 9, 2018 at 1:01 pm

    This playlist is fantastic! Big shout out to Mike Lytle for doing most of the hard work in putting all the playlists together.

  • January 7, 2019 at 2:49 pm

    I appreciate this article. So many great bands that we have forgotten about. Not just in Christian Rock, but in Christian Music all together. Andre Crouch, the Imperials, you mentioned Keith Green and Larry Norman. But Andre Crouch and the Imperials were just as radical in their time, and are now common names in the church. But there were 2 big names you left out of your list:

    How can The Prayer Chain be left off of this list in the 90’s-2000’s? No one defined more the struggle of life and faith in their songs better than The Prayer Chain did; and no one rocked more than this group either. Dig Dug off their “Crawl” album is the ultimate struggle of faith and doubt with trail-blazing lines like “When I hold the doubts of Thomas, as hard as I hold Your promise, dig in deep, dig in deep, yeah, dig in deep!” Or the ever controversial song, “Never Enough” where they were blasted for writing a song that said the Blood of Jesus never seems to be enough, and they wrote it from the standpoint that we all feel that way sometimes, that sometimes we feel there is something we must do to “please God” when God was already pleased with Christ’s sacrifice. Other songs that caused controversy: Some Love, I Believe, Sky High, Sun Stoned, Grylliade, and Shiver.

    Another remarkable name left off your list, that really trail-blazed bands like the Choir, Plankeye, even The Prayer Chain; as he is the 80’s/90’s version of Larry Norman, is Steve Taylor. How could you leave that guy off your list? Lifeboat, Jesus is for Losers (his best song, in my opinion), Banner Man, Meltdown, Smug, The Finish Line, I Manipulate, I Predict a Clone, and On the Fritz. This doesn’t even mention songs he helped co-write and direct for bands like Sixpence None The Richer, Newsboys, Dakota Motor Company, Chagall Guevarra.

    I think with the current “feel good” worship of Christian music today, these artists, producers, etc need to read through the Book of Job, Ecclesiastes, and Psalms. Worship is about taking our raw emotions (love, anger, doubt, fear) and submitting them to God. That is what Christian Rock was all about, as much as it was about challenging theologians view that a Christian has to “look and act a certain way”. Christian rock properly put the focus back on God’s forgiveness and love, instead of what is sin and not sin. Why focus on what separates us from God? When we can focus on how to repair the broken relationship with forgiveness, love, and submission to His will! That is what Christian Rock did.

    • January 7, 2019 at 3:02 pm

      Thanks for the comment! We appreciate everyone that has read these articles. They were a labor of love for sure.

      Both the Prayer Chain and Steve Taylor made our playlists. And Taylor even had a highlighted portion in Part 3 about his music:
      “Their music was never easy. Whether it was Steve Taylor singing satirically about a deranged ice-cream delivery man blowing up an abortion clinic to preserve his livelihood, or The Choir wrestling with the grief of a miscarriage, these bands made their fans grapple with big ideas and complicated emotional reactions. In some ways, they courted controversy, not to get the spotlight as much as to shock their listeners out of their comfort and stagnation.”

      I’m sure we missed some artists. You mentioned The Imperials and Andre Crouch – both trailblazers. With those two in particular, I believe we felt they didn’t really fit into the definition of Rock and Roll that we were writing about. We needed to keep our focus as narrow as possible since this thing could have really gotten out of hand easily – and been way too much work for us.

    • January 7, 2019 at 3:10 pm

      BTW, my brother (Michael who helped put these all together and wrote the intro and Part 4) and I went to The Prayer Chain concert in Nashville back in August of last year. It was an amazing show – all the bands were really good. (The Prayer Chain, The Choir, and Dakoda Motor Co.) Another REO writer was there as well – D.A. Speer, though we didn’t to watch the show with him because he had backstage passes.


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