Saturday, November 24, 2012

Kerry Livgren and the Gospel

During the late seventies, the style known as "progressive rock" was very popular. There were bands like Yes, Genesis, Emerson Lake and Palmer, and others. There were also keyboard-oriented bands which still rocked pretty hard since they still featured heavy doses of guitars, in addition to keyboard synthesizers. Styx, Kansas and others were examples of that style.

Kansas was one of my favorite bands of that type, so I was thrilled when I learned from a friend that Kerry Livgren had recently committed his life to Christ. When I was living in Boston, I learned that Kansas would soon be playing at the Boston Garden, so I tracked down a guy Kerry had recently mentioned as an influence on his new Christian faith walk, and I found the guy's phone number.  (His name was Kenneth Boa, and he'd cowritten the book "Seeds of Change: The Spiritual Quest of Kerry Livgren".)

I called him, and told him I really would like a backstage pass to that concert, since I was working as a merchandise transfer clerk at the Harvard Coop (one of the most successful record stores in the Boston area at that time).

I got the pass I had requested, and I met Kerry that night. I remember that it was a bit strange. It seemed pretty clear to me that there were band members who did not share Kerry's faith. (Dave Hope also became a Christian around that time.) There was a guy who walked around backstage with a big boa constrictor around his neck. I went to the concert with my friend Andy Pratt, who had also become a Christian, and who remains one of my friends to this day.

Later, Kerry formed a Christian rock  band called AD. They were great, and they continued the musical excellence which could be heard on the first Kerry Livgren album with an overt Christian message, Seeds of Change.

As a keyboard guy, I thought it was great that Kerry had become a Christian, and I was later thrilled to learn that Rick Wakeman, another keyboard hero specializing in progressive rock, had also become a Christian, after a long and well publicized history of drunken, dissolute living.

To hear Kerry Livgren's testimony, check out this YouTube video.

By the way, I share a couple of things with Kerry: I'm a keyboard player and songwriter/composer, and I just had two strokes (in June 2011 and February 2012 respectively). His YouTube video about his own stroke is a good antidote to anyone who thinks it could never happen to them. Strokes kill a lot of people every year, and they affect well-known people like actor Kirk Douglas.

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