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February 28, 2008

Larry Norman: Only a Visitor to This Planet

Greetings one and all,

In the last few weeks a number of co-laborers, acquaintances, and friends have passed on. Here is the latest.

Larry Norman, musician, singer, songwriter, passed away last Sunday (February 24, 2008) in Salem, Oregon. He had a long history of heart problems.

Larry was a real pioneer of the music of the Jesus’ movement back in the late sixties and early seventies. We traveled together, conducting concerts, and we ruminated a lot in those days about what was happening around us and to us as the events of the times unfolded. The last time we spent together we attended a Bob Dylan concert in Nashville, Tennessee.

Larry was quite unique and had a way of telling stories through his songs that struck a chord in all who heard. A couple of his biggies, I Wish We’d All Been Ready and Why Does the Devil Have All the Good Music?

Another man who passed from the scene a few years ago was Johnny Cash. Johnny left a brother, Tommy Cash who is continuing to pass on the legacy of his big brother’s songs. My interview with Tommy aired February 26 on the 700 Club. It’s amazing to watch and listen to Tommy’s phrasing and characteristics, reflecting Johnny, and telling the story of their upbringing together.

The following is from Dan Wooding a friend of Larry Norman’s, with Larry’s last words.  Larry was ready.




Hello everybody.

Our friend and my wonderful brother Larry passed away at 2:45 Sunday morning. Kristin and I were with him, holding his hands and sitting in bed with him when his heart finally slowed to a stop. We spent this past week laughing, singing, and praying with him, and all the while he had us taking notes on new song ideas and instructions on how to continue his ministry and art. 

Yesterday afternoon he knew he was going to go home to God very soon and he dictated the following message to you while his friend Allen Fleming typed these words into Larry's computer:

I feel like a prize in a box of cracker jacks with God's hand reaching down to pick me up. I have been under medical care for months. My wounds are getting bigger. I have trouble breathing. I am ready to fly home.

My brother Charles is right, I won't be here much longer. I can't do anything about it. My heart is too weak. I want to say goodbye to everyone. In the past you have generously supported me with prayer and finance and we will probably still need financial help.

My plan is to be buried in a simple pine box with some flowers inside. But still it will be costly because of funeral arrangement, transportation to the gravesite, entombment, coordination, legal papers etc. However money is not really what I need, I want to say I love you. 

I'd like to push back the darkness with my bravest effort. There will be a funeral posted here on the website, in case some of you want to attend. We are not sure of the date when I will die. Goodbye, farewell, we will meet again.

Goodbye, farewell, we'll meet again
Somewhere beyond the sky.
I pray that you will stay with God
Goodbye, my friends, goodbye.


4/8/47 - 2/24/08

I received this e-mail from Ray Ware, the manager of musician Randy Stonehill. Randy was a close friend to Larry Norman, who died just days ago. I had sent out an announcement to that effect and have been receiving quite a response since then. Some of you may be interested in Randy’s comments on Larry.

As I mentioned the other day, Larry and I traveled together and “concertized” years ago. For whatever reason, Larry and his first wife, Pam, decided to spend their honeymoon with my wife, Nedra, and me at our community Love Inn in Freeville, N.Y. While with us, he wrote one of his songs Righteous Rocker.

The last time we were together a few years ago, we attended a Bob Dylan concert in Nashville, Tennessee.

For those of you who may or may not be familiar with Larry, here are some links to some of his performances on YouTube:

Why Don’t You Look Into Jesus
Song for a Small Circle of Friends

Randy Stonehill’s comments on Larry below are quite personal as he reflects on their on-again, off-again relationship over the years.    


“I knew Larry Norman perhaps better than anyone, yet to this day I'm not sure that I really understood him completely.

For as brilliant and insightful as Larry was, I'm not sure that he understood himself completely. This issue became apparent in the way he consistently seemed to "derail" relationships through out his life.

Larry is the man who introduced me to Jesus. He led me to the door of eternal life, and for that singular priceless gift I am eternally in his debt.

In my relationship with Larry, I experienced the beauty of brotherhood, the richness of creative collaboration, the mystery of human brokenness, and ultimately the overshadowing wings of God's all encompassing grace.

After 20 years of friction and distance between us that began around 1980, Larry and I realized that what united us in Christ was far greater than what had separated us in our personal frailty and pride. We worked together on the re-issue of the "Welcome to Paradise" recording and talked and laughed together over the phone from our respective homes in Seal Beach California and Salem Oregon. We stood together onstage for what would be the last time at the Cornerstone Festival in July of 2001 and it felt to me like being home. Then he "disappeared" into the mist. I wrote it off to the busy pace of life and his consuming health problems but I still couldn't help but scratch my chin and wonder.

He graciously agreed to sing with me on my song, "We Were All So Young", for the "Edge of The World" project in 2003. We accomplished that performance process long distance through computer technology. Then he was silent again.

I had hoped that in these last years we might continue to build on our recent reconciliation and even get together for some songwriting and recording, sharing what we had learned about life and about our craft to offer something better than ever to the world.

Death is so final..We are out of time, at least in this life. No more conversations, No more plans, No more songs. It's a strange sorrow that leaves you feeling hollow, like someone knocked the wind out of you.

The light of hope, however, that lifts my spirit is the knowledge that Larry's profound contribution to the work of God's Kingdom is eternal and that his struggles with his own demons is over.”

Randy Stonehill
February 25, 2008

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