Sunday, May 26, 2019


Here's another grouping from the Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda? category...


Ron Salsbury and JC Power Outlet (Myrrh, 1972)

"Raw"..."unpolished"..."rowdy." This was some high-energy rock-n-roll-for-Jesus in 1972. The historical significance alone recommends this one for inclusion. According to historian Ken Scott, this much-loved album from Ron Salsbury, John Pantano, Rick Frye, and Greg Prough featured "fast-pounding drums, chooka-chooka rhythm guitar, in-your-face lyrics, and blitzing hard rock electric guitar solos." Shaggy-haired Jesus freaks with goofy grins and a garage band sound. 


The Exkursions (Custom, 1971)

Mike Johnson played and sang with this blues-rock trio, formed in Chicago in 1968 and said to be influenced by Cream and Jimi Hendrix. A blog called Jesus Rock Legends says this album was "surprisingly crisp" and had "a great drum sound and groovy stereo effects." The reviewer continued: "It still sounds raw, like someone jamming out in your living room but the production quality is not muddy or muffled like so many other recordings of that period. This is the band's only album and it’s a treasure of fuzz guitar and blues licks with those 'growly hippy' vocals that are just too cool!" And to think that it was 1971. The release date alone argues for inclusion on historical merit. The album's liner notes say, "The most critical factor in their music today is a relationship to Jesus, the Messiah. Their commitment to Him has brought a new sound, a new hope, and a new way." This record has been somewhat overlooked in the historical canvas of Jesus Music, but it shouldn't be. And how about that psychedelic cover?

Randy Matthews (who later recorded with Mike Johnson as part of the trio Matthews Taylor and Johnson) has written about first meeting Mike at a "rather primitive Christian rock festival held in a high school gym" in 1972. Larry Norman was there as well. "I was excited about meeting Larry, but even more so about meeting Mike who, in my mind, was THE true father of what we now call Contemporary Christian Music," wrote Matthews in a blog by Mark Hollingsworth called Embracing the Gray. "It was because of his young visionary work with The Exkursions, a missionary band who worked with the Billy Graham Association and at the same time performed on street corners that had captured my imagination."  


Mike Johnson (NewPax, 1976)

This has been called Johnson's finest moment. An oddity was that the album actually had two title tracks: a country tune called The Artist and a Renaissance-influenced track called The Riddle (complete with flute and recorder). The record is said to feature a diversity of styles. Harmony magazine named Mike Johnson "Artist of the Year" on the strength of this album, co-produced by Jesus Music legend Randy Matthews. On the album cover, you notice a smiling Johnson with a sparkle in his eye in the foreground, while the background reflects the peace and tranquility of Christ’s future millennial reign. 

Randy Matthews has called Johnson "truly one of the most talented and inspirational [artists] of them all" and "the most prolific writer I've ever known." Matthews also said that Johnson was "without a doubt, the funniest guy I ever met." Coming from Matthews, that's high praise. Author Mark Hollingsworth said, "I always respected his vision, skill, and hard work in wanting to expand God’s kingdom through creative means." 

Mike Johnson passed away in his sleep of a heart attack on February 9th, 2013 at his home in Nashville. 


Debby Kerner & Ernie Rettino (Maranatha! Music, 1974)

Well, they would eventually be known as the creators of Psalty the Singing Songbook. But they began as a musical duo. Ernie and Debby met at Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa, California, where she led worship. They started making music together and have never stopped. Their 1974 release on Maranatha Music had a clunky, somewhat wordy title: Henceforth I Call You Not Servants But...Friends. Most people just shorten it down to Friends. Love Song alums John Mehler and Jay Truax played on this one. It includes original songs, covers of songs by Jimmy Owens and Kenn Gulliksen, and some traditional spirituals. Pretty much a gentle, mellow, easy-listening record. 


Debby Kerner & Ernie Rettino (Maranatha! Music, 1976)

The two were married in 1976 and named their next album More Than Friends. Karen Lafferty and a then-largely unknown Keith Green contributed to More Than Friends with their talents. The record features everything from orchestrated pop and ballads to kiddie ditties and hillbilly country. And there's a gatefold cover with a wedding photo inside. 

In 2006, Kerner became Director of Worship Leadership at Saddleback Church where she trains and mentors worship leaders. Dr. Debby Kerner Rettino graduated from Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary with a Doctor of Ministry degree in 2010. 


Karen Lafferty (Maranatha! Music, 1973)

Originally from Alamogordo, New Mexico, Karen graduated from Eastern New Mexico University and unsuccessfully attempted to join a Campus Crusade for Christ musical ensemble shortly after. Intending to pursue a career in secular music, she moved to southern California but soon beginning to perform at Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa, California. She wrote a worship chorus called Seek Ye First. And the rest is history. Jesus Music royalty such as Fred Field, Alex MacDougall, Darrell Mansfield, and Al Perkins all contributed to this, Karen's debut album. This record has been called one of her best. Lafferty has been described by David Lowman as "one of the very best songwriters of the era." Lowman says this album's title track would've been a huge Christian radio hit had there been much CCM radio in 1975. Lafferty beautifully describes the freedom found through Biblical faith as being similar to that experienced by a bird flying in a golden sky. "I actually wrote that song for a woman who I new had a lot of personal problems, but she was not open to the Lord at all. That's why I have lines in it like 'Tell me why it is you're crying' and 'I'm singing of my liberty.' It was one of the first songs that I was known for." The album was arranged by Children Of The Day's Peter Jacobs "who tastefully applied horns and strings to Karen's clear, beautiful voice," according to 


Karen Lafferty (Maranatha! Music, 1978)

Produced by the great Jonathan David Brown early in his career, this one had a bit of a country feel. The album is said to be Karen Lafferty's favorite among the recordings she has made. As she explained to, "It actually came out of a very difficult time. There were four people in my life that I was close to that all died within about two years. Most of those songs came out of the emotions of that period. God was with me and ministering to me deeply in that time." A young Kelly Willard supplied backing vocals and played most of the keyboards on the album. A year after the release of Sweet Communion, Karen relocated to the Netherlands to work with Youth With A Mission. She founded Musicians for Missions in 1981, under YWAM in Holland. Lafferty would spend her entire adult life traveling, teaching and ministering with YWAM.


Danny Lee & the Children of Truth (RCA Victor, 1971)

"Danny Lee and the Children of Truth bring a brand new sound to religious music," announced the liner notes for this 1971 album, "a sound that can be understood by all generations." This pioneering group was actually an early crossover band since their albums were released by secular giant RCA. Author Mark Allan Powell says frontman Danny Lee Stutzman was an excellent pianist and a great singer who could get pretty funky when he wanted to. This album's title song, the Larry Norman classic, was a theme song for the Jesus Movement. Danny Lee & company were credited with popularizing the song and bringing Larry to the attention of a wider audience within the Church. 


Danny Lee & the Children of Truth (RCA Victor, 1972)

Produced by Hal Spencer, Danny Lee's sophomore effort was named for an iconic song that would be covered again and again in the early 70s (notably by the Imperials). Spread a Little Love Around ended up being included on the influential soundtrack album for Explo '72. This album's liner notes exaggerate a bit when they compare Danny Lee to Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, and The Beatles. But Lee was definitely a pioneer that I don't believe ever fully got his due. Danny Lee Stutzman passed away after suffering a heart attack in the 1980s.


Liberation Suite (Myrrh, 1975)

A hard-rocking Jesus Music band from Texas that incorporated brass? Sign me up! Historian Mark Allan Powell says this album remains one of the most important - and one of the best - contributions of the Jesus Music era. John Pantry produced this record, which contains plenty of Zeppelinesque blues-rock, progressive art-rock, and ballads. Bonus style points for that groovy logo on the front cover. Sometimes compared to Chicago, Kansas, Styx and even Supertramp, Liberation Suite was said to often be even more innovative than what was being produced in the secular marketplace. Powell also wrote that Liberation Suite demonstrated both the passion and the naivete of the Jesus Movement revival. The group later spent a lot of time in Europe, playing many concerts in Ireland, as well as the very first Greenbelt Festival in England. For a time, they were said to be one of the top Christian bands in the U.K.


Gerry Limpic & Mark Rayburn with Dave Pollard (Myrrh, 1976)

This was actually a custom LP with production values that were good enough for the record to be picked up by Myrrh in 1976. Historian Ken Scott calls it "a catchy blend of wholesome, folky, pop/light-rock and acoustic ballads, with similarities to both Gospel Seed and the Pat Terry Group." Limpic and Rayburn took turns playing acoustic and electric guitars and keyboards. Pollard played bass. Most memorable songs were Sunshine In My Soul and Come To The River.


Randy Matthews (Word, 1971)

He would go on to become one of the most important pioneers of Gospel Rock and Roll, leaving quite a legacy. And it all started here. This album has been described as very tame and churchy...with lots of piano and female background vocals. But the title track was a cover of Larry Norman's most popular song at the time (Matthews says he just happened to find the song and knew nothing of the author), and the album's liner notes include this quote from Isaac Watts: "Why should the devil have all the good music?" That line, of course, was picked up by Larry Norman as the title of a song about a year later and became a battle cry for Jesus freaks everywhere. This record, conservative as it may be, should've been considered for inclusion on this list due to the historical fact that it was the first non-traditional gospel record to be issued on any gospel label.


Randy Matthews (Myrrh, 1972)  

This record was initially rejected by Word as too radical (bonus points!). So it was Randy Matthews who suggested that Word start a subsidiary label that could release more culturally relevant records without tarnishing the reputation of the parent company (WORD). And they bought it! Myrrh Records was born, Billy Ray Hearn was installed as president, and All I Am Is What You See became the very first release on the storied Myrrh label. Matthews was starting to look like a real live hippie on the cover of this album, although the record itself is actually said to be quite tame, with a few guitar solos here and there. The hand-clapping, foot-stomping Country Faith became a concert favorite. Matthews went on to leave quite a mark as one of the all-time most effective communicators in CCM history.


Barry McGuire (Sparrow, 1976)

The hairy, lovable, folksy Jesus freak known as Barry McGuire had some really influential albums on Myrrh Records. Once he followed Billy Ray Hearn over to Sparrow, his recorded output was less consistent, more uneven. A little hit or miss. But a record like C'mon Along still had its moments. The song Clouds is considered an all-time Barry McGuire classic. It's been described as a sweet and simple ballad about longing for the Lord's return. McGuire is supported on C'mon Along by an all-star cast that included the likes of Al Perkins, Matthew Ward, Terry Talbot, Richard Souther, and Mike Deasy.


Barry McGuire (Sparrow, 1977)

I so wanted to put this one on the list. Let's start with that album jacket. Lots of white space with a stunning photo of a somber McGuire on the front cover and Barry breaking into laughter on the back. Each side opens with a classic - There is a Peace on side one and the unforgettable Communion Song on side two. Author Mark Allan Powell called Communion Song probably the finest song Barry McGuire has ever recorded. I don't know if I would go that far...but it's definitely a classic, and very important from a doctrinal standpoint, as there are far too few songs that deal with the Lord's Supper. The Dogwood song Sometime, Someplace gets an upgrade here by Barry...and who could ever forget Chubby, Chubby? A song that takes Christians to task for being overweight (much like Gary S. Paxton's Fat, Fat Christians). In this Mike Deasy composition, McGuire worries (with tongue planted firmly in cheek) that some Christians will miss the rapture because they'll be too fat to fly. It's just too good. McGuire stretches out and growls a bit on the rocker Light of the World, and deflects praise on Don't Thank Me. Yeah, maybe I should've found room for this one in there somewhere...


Barry McGuire (Sparrow, 1978)

OK, what was I thinking here? This record might've made the list on the strength of that epic title track alone! I don't know...people tend to either love or hate the song Cosmic Cowboy. But there's no denying it's a classic. It was the biggest hit on Christian radio in 1978. The problem is that after Cosmic Cowboy there's little else on this record that really sticks with you. The album does benefit greatly, however, from the performances of three members of what I sometimes lovingly refer to as the Koinonia mafia - bassist Abraham Laboriel, drummer Bill Maxwell, and keyboardist Harlan Rogers. Also appearing on Cosmic Cowboy: Mike Deasy, David Diggs, Bili Thedford, Al Perkins, and Michael Omartian. Truly an all-star cast. If only the songs were better.


Ken Medema (Word, 1974)

Ken Medema is a classically trained musician who has been blind from birth. He taught himself to play the piano and earned a doctorate from Michigan State University. He got a job in the early 70s as Director of Music and Creative Arts Therapies at a children's psychiatric hospital in New Jersey. While there, he recorded a couple of albums and started playing concerts. One such concert took place in Waco, Texas, the home of Word Records. Word signed him up and Harmony Magazine (forerunner to CCM) wrote that Medema "effectively bridged the gap between contemporary and traditional music," giving him a little street cred with Jesus people. The title track from this album shows off Medema's piano work and was later shared with a larger audience when The Imperials covered it. Lord, Listen to Your Children Praying is remembered fondly and even made it into some hymnals. In the funky You Can't Go Back, Medema enthusiastically sings, "You can't go back to the music of yesterday!" Mr. Simon is another track that made an impact from this record. Medema has been called a consummate musical storyteller.    

Medema is basically a spiritual and political liberal these days. He still performs but his lyrics generally provide social commentary on themes such as "justice," hunger, poverty, homelessness, and the like. He and his wife Jane now live near San Francisco, California.


David Meece (Myrrh, 1976)

He's been called "the Christian Barry Manilow." He was a child prodigy from the Lone Star state, a concert pianist who played with symphony orchestras as a teenager. While attending the Peabody Conservatory of Music in Baltimore, Meece surrendered his life to Jesus. His musical tastes began to change as well, trading an affinity for classical music for psychedelic pop sounds. His debut album on Myrrh Records was pretty tame - lots of easy listening tunes. One author said that Meece came off like a quasi-classical Christian Mancini. The songs Jesus and I Love You, Lord are fondly remembered from this album, with I Love You, Lord having appeared on the influential Jubilation, Too sampler set.


David Meece (Myrrh, 1979)

In 1978, Meece donned a warm-up suit and posed for one of the most unfortunate album covers of the 70s. And something had happened to David's voice. It was all falsetto, all the time. It sounded like Meece was kidnapped and literally replaced with the Bee Gees on this album. I mean, it was shameless! But here's the thing...the dude flat-out pulled it off. On this album, he did the Bee Gees better than they did! Songs like the title track, God Holds the Future and I Can't Believe It's True sound exactly like the Gibbs brothers and get stuck in your head for days at a time. Put this one in the Guilty Pleasure category.

Meece would reinvent himself and recorded a slew of big-time Christian radio hits throughout the 80s and into the 90s.

And now, back to your regularly scheduled countdown of the greatest CCM albums of the 1970s...

Friday, May 17, 2019

#31 COME AND JOIN US by Petra (1977)

COME AND JOIN US by Petra (1977)
Myrrh - MSB 6582
"God gave rock and roll to you."

There. Somebody in the Christian music world finally just came right out and said it. 

Other Jesus Music artists had been walking right up to that imaginary line in the sand but always stopped short of such an audacious proclamation. The sentiment was actually lifted from a secular song, but that didn't lessen the weight of those words. They still packed a punch. It was a rhetorical shot across the bow and there would be no turning back now.

"God gave rock and roll to you." Indeed. 

Fittingly, it was said by a group whose name literally means rock.

"We knew that what we were doing was radical because nobody would play our music on the radio unless they knew us personally," recalls drummer Bill Glover. "It was hard. We did get some airplay on the secular stations in Fort Wayne, Indiana, but only because the DJs knew us. Otherwise, nobody would play our music. The churches and the Christians didn't really like it because they couldn't, in their minds, marry the two - rock 'n roll and Christianity. So we knew it was radical." 

If Petra's 1974 self-titled debut was radical, then Come and Join Us, the group's sophomore release from 1977, was revolutionary. It kicked down barriers, opened doors and paved the way for bands that followed. And it was a noticeable improvement on the 1974 debut on several different levels - production quality, songwriting, musical and vocal performance, even the album art. Calling it louder and heavier than their debut, author Mark Allan Powell wrote that Come and Join Us was, in the mind of some fans, the group's proudest moment. "The entire album rocks with an intensity and an integrity that had never before appeared in any national Christian release," Powell argued. 

Come and Join Us wasn't necessarily accepted by large segments of American Christendom in 1977...but it refused to be ignored. 

So how did the best-known, most successful Christian rock band of all time get its start? I had a chance to speak with the group's original drummer, Bill Glover, and, over the course of an hour-long, wide-ranging conversation, he was more than happy to fill me in. 

Bill Glover

"We all met in Bible college at my home church, Calvary Temple in Fort Wayne, Indiana," said Glover. "The rest of the guys came in - Greg Hough from Indiana, Bob [Hartman] and John [DeGroff] from Ohio. I was already playing drums at this church. It was a large church. It had a Bible college and a youth ministry, a bus ministry, you know, the whole shootin' match. It had a music ministry - you know, choirs and different church bands that went out and played and sang and recorded." 

Paul Craig Paino

Bill lives on Florida's Gulf Coast these days. He maintains a very active social media presence and still plays drums with a group called Bandana. He told me his first experience in a recording studio came when he traveled to Nashville with members of his church. "Yeah, in fact, our music pastor was a guy named Paul Craig Paino, and he had already established a couple of bands and he ended up being Petra's first manager. But he had taken several musical groups from our church down to Nashville to record an album. So it was a very enthusiastic atmosphere for music. I was first chair drummer, but we had several drummers. And this was back in the early '70s, so this church was way ahead of its time."

Bill says he developed a desire to use his abilities for the Lord in whatever way he could - and it was about more than just music for music's sake. "I felt called into the ministry, the music ministry, when I was twelve years old at church camp," Glover revealed. "I really felt a calling, so I knew I would be involved with music ministry all my life." 

"Of course, I didn't know that we would start a band like Petra or anything like that," he said, as his voice trailed off.

Meanwhile, a teenaged Bob Hartman first picked up a guitar at age 13 in Bryan, Ohio. A year later he started his first band. Over the course of his junior high and high school years, Bob played cover tunes in various bands for school dances and parties. He fell in love with music.

Hartman attended college at Kent State, but his time there was cut short as a result of the campus unrest that took place in 1970. Four students were infamously shot and killed during a Vietnam War protest. This was, of course, national news but it had a profound effect on Bob personally. He began a search for answers to some pretty big questions. That search culminated with Bob Hartman turning his life over to Jesus. He transferred to Bowling Green State University and earned a psychology degree, but he still had a hunger to study the Word of God. So he moved to Ft. Wayne, Indiana to attend Christian Training Center, the same two-year Bible school that was sponsored by Bill Glover's church. Greg Hough and John DeGroff ended up there as well. 

Petra. L-R: Bob Hartman, John DeGroff, Bill Glover, Greg Hough

"It was funny," Glover remembers, "because they knew I was a drummer at the church and they said, 'Hey, we're musicians, too! We hear you're pretty good. We'd like to start a band. You wanna go jam?' So we went out into the sanctuary and jammed, and that was the first time that Bob and Greg and John and myself jammed. And we were hooked right away. And we were all, of course, called into that type of ministry. It was just neat to be a part of it."

So what was a Petra concert like in the early days? "We were just rock musicians who got saved," Glover says. "That's really what we loved to play, so we figured, 'Well, you know, we can change the words here and there.' We did covers of all of the rock bands that we loved, changed the words, and went off to play wherever we could play. In the early days, we covered Jesus Is Just Alright, God Gave Rock and Roll to You, and some Larry Norman tunes. So it was just a natural thing."

Bob Hartman is the original Petra member who stuck with the band the longest. He's generally regarded as the group's leader. But Greg Hough played an important role as well, especially early on. "Greg Hough, now, he was the 'seer' or the prophet (or whatever you want to call it) of the group," Bill Glover told me. "He's the one that got the vision to have a Christian rock band that would travel the world and see many people saved. Greg actually had the vision for the band. Bob wanted to do acoustic rock or country rock or folk rock because he had tried a rock band - two of them, really - and he didn't think that a Christian rock band had any future. So it was really Greg Hough's vision. And I wanted to really make that clear because that's something that the public doesn't know. Only Greg had the knowing (as we Christians would put it), the knowing in his heart that something big was brewing. I was just doing what I knew the Lord wanted me to do, whatever the outcome was." 

Greg Hough

Bill laughed and added, "We weren't making any money, that's for sure! But we were doing our best."

Dan Brock. 1977.

In preparing for this post I reached out to Dan Brock, who served as Petra's manager in the late 70s. I wanted to know how he got hooked up with this ragtag band of Christian rockers. "I knew Petra from their appearances at the Adam's Apple in Fort Wayne," Brock answered. "While attending The University of the Cumberlands in Williamsburg, KY, I brought Petra to the campus for a few concert appearances over a 3-year period. In the summer of 1976, after I had graduated and became the director of student activities for the school, I was asked by the band if I would be interested in becoming their manager. They knew the former manager of Styx and he had agreed to bring me in and let me learn the art of managing recording artists as I worked alongside him. So in the late summer of 1976, I moved to Chicago and started as the personal manager of Petra. I continued in that role for a little over 3 years."

Dan Brock confirmed that clearing a path for a legitimate Christian rock band like Petra was very challenging in the mid-1970s. "It was very difficult arranging concerts for Petra at that time," Dan said. "As was true of Larry Norman, 'They were too Christian for the rock crowd and too rock for the Christians.' During that season, colleges were the best places to play and would pay a reasonable concert fee for an appearance. The band did do some free concerts of an evangelistic nature in parks when possible. But most churches stayed away unless they had a strong youth group outreach that their pastor supported." 

Bill Glover had a good time telling me about an early gig that got the guys in hot water with a pretty famous television evangelist: "We played one time out at Tulsa. Our pastor booked us out there in the early days at Oral Roberts University and they had just opened up the new facility for concerts and everything. And they were very proud of it. And we were the first band booked in there. 

Evangelist Oral Roberts

Of course, Oral Roberts had no idea, no clue who Petra was and what we were going to do. So we played our concert there and then they took us out afterward. So not only did our music completely turn him off but afterward they took us out to eat and we ordered beer and wine with our meals. And when Oral Roberts heard about that, he said, 'You guys will never, NEVER play here again!' But they did invite us back eventually. But it was funny. I mean, the people who took us out, they all ordered wine and stuff with their dinner, so we did, too. But boy, Oral Roberts did not like that! Of course, he'd already heard about the concert and that probably had already set him off to a negative attitude anyway."

Come and Join Us was recorded at Golden Voice Studios in South Pekin, Illinois (population: 1,146 in 2010). And there's a story that goes with that. But to understand it, we first have to do a little time travel back to Petra's beginnings - even before their debut album was released.

"Well, Pastor Paul Craig Paino took us down to Nashville," Bill Glover recalls. "He had some connections down there because he had gone to college in Tulsa at ORU and met a lot of people. He had traveled with the singers there. So he had a lot of connections in the recording business. That's why we had already been down to Nashville with the church group to record. So he took Petra down there and he had Benson and he had Billy Ray Hearn and all these guys come in who were the executives of the Christian music labels. They were really more Southern Gospel at that time but they had the idea to 'go contemporary' because of what was happening in the Jesus Movement. So we set up and I remember that Randy Matthews was there - he was interested in having us back him up, so we thought that might be an idea."

(Randy Matthews and Petra did eventually tour together, both managed by Dan Brock.)

Bill Glover continued: "But we got a contract through that with Myrrh. The only problem was they wouldn't give us any money. So there was a studio near Champaign, Illinois. We had played there on a college campus. There were Christian organizations that would bring us in to play at these secular colleges, and that's pretty much all we could do was play at these secular places and get some secular airplay locally because the Christian stations, colleges, and churches did not really know what to do with us. But in any case, we did record the first record there and we had to pay for it. But the people that owned the studio - Golden Voice in Peking, Illinois - they were behind us and they said, 'We'll let you record here just for the cost of the tape.' So that was about $500. So that first album was made for about five hundred bucks. And we really did it on our own. We didn't have anybody to produce us, so we pretty much produced that ourselves no matter what the album says [the album says that Billy Ray Hearn was the producer]. It was all our own stuff. The engineers and the owners of the Golden Voice Studios, they did as much for us as they could as far as answering our questions because we didn't have the money to hire anybody." 

Bill continues: "So the people at Golden Voice said, 'OK, you can do the record here, but if the record label picks you up and you get a contract, then the next time you'll have to come back here to record your next album.' And we said, 'OK, that's a deal.' And it was a successful album, being our debut and everything, it was successful for being rock and roll. I mean, it wasn't a big seller compared to other Christian artists who were popular at the time, but it was good work and it helped us get a contract with Myrrh, and then Myrrh put us in the studio." 

And that's how Come and Join Us came to be recorded in South Pekin, Illinois. 

"It was a money thing, really," Bill offers. "We had more songs than we knew what to do with because Greg Hough and Bob both wrote songs all the time. So it wasn't a lack of material, it was a money thing. But finally, Myrrh paid for us to do Come and Join Us." 

Speaking of money, Bill Glover says there was precious little of it in Petra's early days. And he was also able to solve a mystery for me: why were Bob, Greg, and John listed as members on the album cover, while Bill was listed as a guest musician?

"I had already resigned from the band," he says. "I had gotten married and Petra wasn't making any money. In fact, we traveled in a Plymouth Duster with a U-Haul trailer on the back when the first album came out. We decided, 'We're gonna need to go get a travel vehicle.' So we found a motor home that we could afford. And we went to get it and we all had to sign the contract, and they still wouldn't give it to us. So my Mom had to come and co-sign for us to get our first motor home and trailer package for the road. I mean, we did not make any money at all. There was just no money."

Bill laughed as he recalled giving his bandmates the bad news. "When I got married I said, 'Boys, I gotta quit. My wife, she's not going for this.' I was the first to resign, so I wasn't there for a lot of the recording of Come and Join Us. But they came to me because they weren't able to find anybody that could really fill the bill on drums. And I'm not trying to sound conceited, it wasn't because of my talent, I mean, the Lord put me in that situation. But it was more than just a drummer that Petra needed. They needed someone that was a Christian minister and could play. At the very least, they needed a Christian drummer. And that was hard to find! They went through several guys. They couldn't put just anybody in there. Petra was very much a ministry-oriented band of dedicated Christian men. We all had flaws, of course. We weren't perfect or anything, but at least we were Christians. So they hired me to play on that second album. That's why I'm listed as a guest musician instead of a member." 

Petra's drum throne was basically a revolving door for the remainder of the decade. "I ended up having to leave the band around 1975," Bill remembers. "I was only with the band three or four years before I got married. So it was '75, '76, something like that. They had used several other drummers out on the road because I had to get a job, you know, being married. So they went with several during that time, but they never used any of them in the studio or made them a member. 

"I'll have to ask Bob about that one day, why he never hired any of those drummers," chuckled Glover. "Maybe the personality wasn't right, who knows? But they had a big problem trying to find a drummer after I left." 

Glover gave a hearty laugh and said, "I didn't know I'd caused them so much pain."

"Come and Join Us was my first album to work on with a record company as a manager of one of their bands," said Dan Brock. "Billy Ray Hearn had left Myrrh to start Sparrow Records and Myrrh decided to exercise an option for a second recording under the new leadership of Buddy Huey. To the best of my memory, we got off to a rough start as he was new at the label and I was new as a manager (taking my cues from the former manager of Styx). I hired Austin Roberts to produce the record."  

Austin Roberts

Austin Roberts is best remembered for a 1975 secular hit titled Rocky and an earnest, eclectic, downright weird Christian rock opera from 1976 titled Eight Days (A Personal Journey). Eight Days, released on Gary S. Paxton's Newpax label, contained some pretty hard rock so maybe that factored into Brock's decision to have Roberts at the helm for Come and Join Us. Although, Bill Glover remembers it as more of a team effort.

Austin Roberts

"We had several producers, actually," said Bill. "We had lots of people involved on that album. I don't remember ever meeting Austin Roberts, to tell you the truth. I might've met him, I mean, I probably had to go in the control room at some point in time during that day when we were recording. I was a young guy. We recorded that in 1977 and I don't think I even knew who he was back then."

As I said, Petra is listed as a trio in the credits, with John DeGroff on bass and Bob Hartman and Greg Hough both playing guitar and both supplying vocals. "We were very proud of the album," Glover said. "I thought everything on it was really good, even Greg Hough's and Bob's vocals. I didn't particularly like either one of them as a vocalist, but they each sang their own songs. That had been the typical arrangement - Greg Hough would sing the songs that he wrote, and Bob Hartman would sing the songs that he wrote, and the rest of us would sing back-up." Greg Hough's and Bob Hartman's singing had definitely improved since the first album. I was pretty hard on the vocals on that first record...but there are moments on Come and Join Us when Greg Hough, especially, showed that he was growing into a very fine rock singer.

Under the "Guest Musicians" designation, we find Steve McElyea on keyboards (maybe some strings here and there and some synth sounds on Woman Don't You Know...but Come and Join Us contains none of the synthesizer and organ solos that would be such an important part of future Petra albums). Austin Roberts, Karen Morrison, and a young Steve Camp are listed as guest vocalists. 

Oh - and one other gentleman appears in the credits as a guest singer. His name is Greg X. Volz.

"Yeah, Austin was not happy with the lead vocals of the original group," Dan Brock recalls, "so we asked Greg Volz (who we knew from the e band) to come in with no strings attached and do a couple of lead vocals and some harmonies and just see how it goes."   

"I didn't even really know Greg X. Volz at that time," Glover revealed. "But I was really happy with the vocals. I only knew of Greg Volz and his band, e band, because they had played with us in different concerts. They were from Indiana so we would run into them here and there." When he thinks about e band, Bill Glover heads down a bit of a rabbit trail regarding a song that Petra recorded just a few years after Come and Join Us was released. 

The Coloring Song would prove to be historically significant for the band. 

e band
(Dave Eden is on the far left. Greg Volz is next to him.)

"Dave Eden was the drummer for e band and I was a good friend of his," Bill says. "He's the one that wrote The Coloring Song that put Petra on the map back then. That song really did a big, big number on making Petra legitimate in Christian circles. That was the song that everybody was looking for. We'd been trying to find a song to put out there - we had material back then that we recorded in local studios that was acoustic rock. It was like stuff by The Eagles and, you know, California Rock. We were writing this stuff and putting it together, and it was really good. But it wasn't good enough or MOR enough to cross over and be considered acceptable for these Christian stations back then. We tried and we tried but it seemed like there was nothing we could do about it. But then The Coloring Song came along by Dave Eden and it was great. And things went really good after that."

According to the album credits, a whole gaggle of people played percussion on the album including Steve Mergen, Allen C. Hornung, Steve Pfeiffer, "Cowbell Bob," "Houghie I," and Steve Camp. Last, but not least, as I previously mentioned, Bill Glover was listed as a Guest Musician on drums and percussion. Due to his status as a studio musician and no longer a full-fledged member of Petra, Bill's involvement with Come and Join Us was a whirlwind experience.

"I went in and rehearsed with them one day," Bill recalls, "then went in the next day and laid down all the drum tracks. So I was there for two days! I pretty much knew all the stuff. There was only one song that I didn't already know and that was God Gave Rock and Roll To You (and I knew that from hearing it on the radio). So after those two days, I was gone. I went back home. I missed a lot by not being a member of the band for that album because I would've loved to talk to Steve Camp. He's one of my favorites. And I loved the way Greg Volz sang on the record. Gosh, what a great voice! It would've been nice to have been able to sit and talk to him. But that's the way it goes. I went in as a sideman on that, a studio musician or whatever, and I didn't even go into the control room to listen to the cuts. If the guy said good, we went on to the next one. So it was boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, and I was out of there. I do have a vague memory about them examining all my drum tracks because, like I said, I wasn't a member then and I had no real input on what the drums sounded like. If everybody liked them, then I was happy. Now, don't get me wrong - I played what I wanted to play. I did Bill Glover. I just wasn't involved with mixing and producing like I was on the first album. We were all heavily involved with the first album. Billy Ray Hearn was there, but he wasn't a producer. He was more of an executive." 

Billy Ray Hearn in the 70s

The music on Come and Join Us was arranged by the band. Terry Jamison engineered the album and he was assisted by Allen C. Hornung and Bill Olszewski. It was mastered by Lanky Linstrot at ABC Records in Los Angeles. Come and Join Us was a much more sophisticated recording in many aspects than the 1974 self-titled release.


The album begins with that now-famous cover song. "As I remember it, I championed the idea of God Gave Rock and Roll to You," said Dan Brock. "I had been a fan of that song after hearing Argent record it."   

Bob Hartman reportedly wanted to title the album God Gave Rock and Roll To You, but the suits and ties at Myrrh nixed that idea in no time flat. Word Records was very dependent in those days on what we called "Mom & Pop Bible Bookstores" to sell the product. Contemporary Christian albums, 8-tracks, and cassettes were sold primarily in Christian bookstores that were independently owned and operated...and a lot of them would've simply refused to stock an album with such a title. Chuck Girard had already experienced this exact same controversy when he wanted to title his debut solo album Rock and Roll Preacher and the label said, "No way."

Title track or not (in this case, not), God Gave Rock and Roll to You made an incredibly important statement. It was actually a cover of a secular song by the band Argent, but Petra re-wrote the lyrics, "Christianizing" the song somewhat, but not at all with a heavy hand. It is, for my money, the single greatest version of this song that's ever been recorded. And that includes the original along with versions by KISS, Bride and DOC, a British band called The Truth, and even Petra's own remake in 1985. "I agree," said Bill Glover. "I agree with you. I love it. I really liked the acoustic intro."

That acoustic intro that Bill mentioned gives way to Bob's and Greg Hough's familiar twin-lead guitars...and then Glover's drumming and some iconic power chords grab our attention...then there's a subtle tempo shift before we finally hear Greg X. Volz sing - a full two minutes into the song! It was a heck of an intro. And, according to Glover, a pretty difficult song to nail.

"The hardest song to record on the album was God Gave Rock and Roll To You because we tended to rush it a little bit," Glover admitted. "They put Greg Hough out in front of us when I recorded the drum tracks. When we recorded, we recorded everything as a live band. So we only overdubbed things that we couldn't play at the time. So Greg Hough laid down the rhythm track for that song and he acted as a conductor. He picked up a couple of my drum sticks and acted like an orchestra conductor and directed us through that song so that we wouldn't rush! That song was the hardest one on there. The rest of them I knew, and I was in and out of there." 

The lyrics are credited to Russ Ballard of Argent on the Come and Join Us label and album cover, even though the verses had definitely been rewritten by someone, referring to the Lord as "the Source" and "the Rock"...

You can learn to dance
Or you can be a square
You can let the music take you anywhere
But where will you be when the music's gone

You can learn to sing
And you can play guitar
You can learn to rock
You can be a star
But where will you be when the music's gone

If you love the sound
Then don't forget the Source
You can turn around
You can change your course
'Cause it's never too late to change your mind

You can love the Rock
And let Him free your soul
Or you can let the old man take his toll
It's never too late to change your mind

God gave rock and roll to you
Gave rock and roll to you
Put it in the soul of everyone  

Great way to start the album.

In the #2 hole was a funky little number that focused on the Third Person of the Godhead. Christian rock music gave us so many songs, of course, about God the Father and Jesus, His Son. But the Holy Spirit has always been treated like the red-headed stepchild of the Trinity by CCM songwriters. In comparison to God and Jesus, the Holy Ghost has pretty much been ignored altogether, despite the fact that He's the One Jesus sent to comfort, help, lead, guide, empower and instruct. Christian teacher and author John Bevere says the Holy Spirit is the most ignored and misunderstood person in the Church today. I think a lot of that is based in fear. 

I grew up as an Assembly of God pastor's kid and we regularly sang an old hymn titled Old Time Power...

They were in an upper chamber
They were all with one accord
When the Holy Ghost descended
As was promised by the Lord

Yes, the pow’r from Heav’n descended
With the sound of rushing wind
Tongues of fire came down upon them
As the Lord said He would send

Yes, this old-time pow’r was given
To our fathers who were true
This is promised to believers
And we all may have it too

O Lord, send the pow’r just now
And baptize every one

So "Holy Ghost power" was not a strange concept to us. The Holy Spirit was welcome and spiritual gifts were in operation in almost every service. But the phrase "Holy Ghost power" would've scared my Southern Baptist friends half to death.

Prior to 1977, of the few Jesus Music songs that did talk about the Holy Spirit, most focused on the "sweet" and "gentle" aspects of the Spirit's character and attributes (Sweet, Sweet Spirit by The Imperials and Come, Holy Spirit by Dallas Holm, for example), and not on His power. But there were three recordings in 1975 that bucked that trend. One was Holy Spirit, Speak To Me by The Imperials. Another was It Ain't No New Thing by Andrae Crouch & the Disciples (The charismatic experience / That sure ain't no new thing / 'Cause it started in the Upper Room / A long time ago); and the third (and perhaps more notable) exception was 1975's Holy Spirit Song by Children of the Day which featured lyrics like these:

Ooo, the Holy Spirit
Ooo, the Holy Spirit 
He wants to fill you up and then flow right through 
So that all will receive when they come 'round you

Some people say that He's not for today
Other people laugh at Him and just turn Him away

Don't be afraid to let Him come and take command
Yielding to the Holy Ghost is God's good plan

Open up your heart and ask the Lord to bless
You might find a joy that words just can't express

So the ground had at least been tilled for Bob Hartman to feel comfortable singing these words...

Gonna go to church, gonna end my search 
Gonna fill my soul with power 

Holy Ghost power gonna fill you today 
Holy Ghost power gonna take you away 
Holy Ghost power gonna fill you within 
Holy Ghost power gonna save you from sin 

It wasn't exactly an in-depth examination of the purpose and moving of the Holy Spirit in the Church today...but at least it was something. Musically, many people have called Holy Ghost Power a nod to disco. Doesn't sound like disco to me. It's just funk. And the humor in the verses makes it seem akin to a novelty song that could've been recorded by Gary S. Paxton. Not every reviewer appreciated the song's attempts at humor, however. CCM historian Mark Allan Powell writes in his Encyclopedia of Contemporary Christian Music, "Holy Ghost Power could have been a Rare Earth-style anthem to the Pentecostal experience, but it is ruined by silly cartoon voices that turn it into a novelty track."

Also in 1977, Janny Grein sang about being Spirit Born and The Edwin Hawkins Singers "had church" with a song called Holy Ghost on their album The Comforter.

In future years, the Holy Spirit would turn up in CCM songs, but sparingly. These would include Holy Ghost Blues by Bethlehem (1978); In the Spirit by Bob and Pauline Wilson (1981); Come Holy Spirit by the Second Chapter of Acts (1983); Holy Spirit by Dan Peek (1984); By My Spirit by Leslie Phillips (1984); By His Spirit by Silverwind (1985); In the Spirit and Let His Spirit and His Word by David Baroni (1987); Come, Holy Spirit, Come by David Teems (1993); and a cover of Bill Gaither's Come Holy Spirit by Bryan Duncan (1996). 

David & the Giants

But the group that has had the fewest reservations when it comes to writing and singing about the Holy Spirit would have to be David & the Giants. In songs like Upper Room Experience, I've Been Drinking and New Wine, David Huff and the boys celebrate the power and Person of the Holy Spirit: 

Not too long ago
I was lost and searching
I found myself a little church house
And I got down on my knees
And I repented for all my sins
And my Lord, my Lord took them all away
Then suddenly a sound came from Heaven
And I was filled with the Holy Ghost

I had an upper room experience
I began to speak with other tongues
Some people thought I was drunk, and I was
But I was drunk on that new wine
I had an upper room experience

David & the Giants are not at all shy about the things that Paul taught us concerning the Holy Spirit. They even sing about what people from my side of the tracks call being slain in the Spirit. Check out this verse from their song Never Had It So Good:

It was one of those nights and I was looking for something to do
Had a lot of emotion that needed release in my shoes
But I got a surprise when I walked thru the church door
The Holy Ghost hit me, laid me out right on the floor

I ain't never, never, never had it so good   

But I digress.

Anyway...Holy Ghost Power by Petra was a funky novelty track, but it was more than that. For a rock and roll band on Myrrh Records to sing about being filled within by the power of the Holy Ghost was a big deal.

Next up was Woman Don't You Know, a Greg Hough composition that was notable for a couple of reasons - Greg X. Volz showed us what he was capable of, vocally...and Bill Glover delivered a memorable drum solo in the middle of the song. 

Bill Glover and the 17-piece drum set that he played
on Petra and Come and Join Us

"Yeah, we did that in one take, I remember that," said Bill. "I was used to doing the song with them. It was written by Greg Hough." [Bob Hartman also receives writing credit on the song.] Bill continued: "Greg wrote some phenomenal songs but he wasn't a theologian. Most of his songs were just taken from everyday life. Like on Woman Don't You Know - he's telling his girlfriend or this woman that's hitting on him or whatever, that, you know, Jesus is the way and he ain't gonna have nothing to do with whatever she's into, you know? I was used to doing a drum solo live with Petra, so I had one worked up and when they said, 'You want to do a drum solo?' I said, 'Sure, I'll just incorporate what I already do in the live situation - even though we hadn't played live together for a couple of years at that point. So we had to do the song in the studio as pretty much a seamless situation; there wasn't a way for me to just come in and do the drum tracks separately. So we did the whole thing live and it came off really well and they liked it."

Bill was happy with his solo, but let's just say he's not a big fan of having to compete with synthesizers.

"The only thing that had to be added was the sound effects," Glover told me. "I don't know if it was Austin Roberts who did that or who did it, but I wouldn't have added those sound effects, personally. Back then I guess they were OK. They had some of those things that drummers were using, those electronic drums that made those - I think they were stupid sounds, really. I just liked the drum solo! I thought it turned out good, I was proud of that and I was happy that they liked it and everything and that we didn't have to go back and add anything to it. The only thing that was added was those weird sound effects that you hear." 

I asked Bill what he thought of the Volz vocal on Woman Don't You Know. "Well, I didn't hear any of the vocals until the album was done," he answered. "And then when they gave me my copy of the album and I listened to it, I thought Greg Volz did a phenomenal job on the vocals on that song." 

Woman Don't You Know also gave the other musicians a chance to stretch out and shine, with some scorching guitar leads and even a short call-and-response section between bass and lead guitar. 

One of the best songs on the 1974 Petra debut was Backsliding Blues. Well, the backsliding theme is revisited in the song Sally. It's a plodding, snarly rocker about a young woman who "used to be so happy, walkin' down that street with a smile upon her face." In the lyrics, Hough seems pretty smitten with "Sally"...  

...when she came to see me she would brighten up my face 
Sally was that kind of girl, sure would like to know 

And we know that Sally was a Christian because everywhere that Sally went, the Lamb was sure to go. 

But alas, 'twas not meant to be. Sally suddenly fell in with the wrong crowd from "the other side of town." She started "smokin' weed and drinkin' and probably foolin' 'round." Which led Greg Hough to question out loud:  

Why would she want to run away from God and all His love 
And go back in that world and live so hard and rough 

I asked Bill Glover if Sally was based on a true story. "Yes, it's about a real person," he answered, "but Sally was not her real name. That was Greg. He was always writing about real-life circumstances in his songs. Really heartfelt, emotional and spiritual, too. Greg is an incredibly gifted musician, but his songwriting was always about whatever life and the Lord gave him. He didn't really use a lot of Biblical theology in there like Bob did. Now, Bob was very careful about that and I really commend him for it because we had everybody breathing down our necks because we played rock and roll and we were Christians at the same time. We would get scrutinized and criticized and labeled by Christian preachers who thought there was no way that rock and roll and Christianity could be married together. We were under a searchlight, so our songwriting had to be the best. And Bob did a great job. I really feel that that's the reason why Petra was so blessed was because of that songwriting." 

By the way, Larry Norman, Honeytree and even The Imperials had already referred to marijuana in various songs, but Sally might be the first time the phrase smokin' weed ever appeared in a Christian song.

For the next three songs - Come And Join Us, Where Can I Go, and Without You I Would Surely Die - the guitars were turned up to 11 and Petra definitely lived up to their name. They even threw in some 70s rock and roll cowbell here and there. "Those were straight ahead rock and roll songs," Glover says. "I really liked them. Greg and Bob brought those to the rehearsal. Those three, along with Killing My Old Man, were all songs that we'd been doing in concert, so I knew them all really well. They were just good, straight-ahead rock tunes and we were very enthusiastic about recording those."

The title track was the happiest-sounding of this trio of great rock songs, with some of the band's trademark twin-harmony guitar parts and some nice harmonies on the chorus. 

Bill Glover and Bob Hartman

On Where Can I Go, Bob Hartman reached somewhere deep down within and delivered the best rock vocal performance of his life. On the song's bridge, especially, he almost sounds like a real lead singer for a rock band (Darkness is the same as the light to You / Daytime is the same as the night / When You put Your chains of love around my soul / I know it won't be long before I let You take control.) Lyrically, Where Can I Go was a creative way to revisit Psalm 139, where David asks...

Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
If I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
If I settle on the far side of the sea,
Even there your hand will guide me,
Your right hand will hold me fast.

Bob Hartman says it this way:

I could take a plane to New York City 
I could hitchhike all the way to L.A. 
I could follow the sunrise tomorrow 
But be as close to You as today 
I'm beginning to see what You mean to me 
I just can't get away from Your love 

Where can I go without Your love there to haunt me 
I do believe You're playin' to win 
I can't understand what makes You really want me 
But I'm feelin' like it's time to give in 

I could climb the golden stairway to heaven 
I could catch the crowded highway to hell 
If I could find a place nobody has ever been 
I bet You'd probably be there as well 
I don't know why I've waited so long 

I could take a submarine to Atlantis 
I could take a flying saucer to Mars 
I could ride on the Milky Way someday 
But You've already numbered the stars 
I'm beginning to hear Your voice is so near 
Tellin' me You love me again

The last track in this trilogy of rock anthems is Without You I Would Surely Die. It's the most rambunctious of the three and Greg Hough actually turns in a very impressive lead vocal. Maybe he and Bob were inspired and challenged a bit by the presence of Greg X. Volz? Who knows. Without You I Would Surely Die is a rowdy love song to Jesus, complete with cowbell. Ya gotta love it.  

Jesus Rock historian Ken Scott has written that "the title track, Where Can I Go and Without Him are all sturdy rockers that bristle with excitement." The band sounds nice and tight on these songs. The guys just sound like they were having fun.

The group then offers a complete change of pace. Ask Him In is the mother of all altar call songs, set to gentle, acoustic rock that's reminiscent of early West Coast Jesus Music. At least one reviewer wrote that Bob Hartman sings this song "in his Larry Norman voice." It was a simple, compelling, effective presentation of the Gospel... 

Now that you've heard the music 
Where do you go from here 
You see music only takes you to the place 
Where you're ready to hear 

We could sing and tell you we love you 
And you could say it wasn't true 
But how can you say that about a man 
Who died for you 

Jesus is holding out His love to you 
But He made it so that you have to choose 
How can you walk away empty again 
When you know that you've got nothing to lose 
Ask Him in 

You could probably think of a reason 
To wait until another day 
But the Spirit is speaking, telling you 
Today is the day 

Jesus gave His life as a ransom 
Was crucified and laid in a grave 
But He rose again and made a new way 
For man to be saved

Ask Him in
He loves you

"We were very evangelistic," said Bill Glover. "That was the main thrust of Petra - getting people saved. It wasn't a praise and worship type situation back then." Bill was briefly overcome with emotion and his voice cracked as he said, "We were out there as ambassadors for Christ in a lost world. It was a real different ballgame back then. There's hundreds of thousands of people all over the world serving the Lord to this day because of Petra."  

Bill further explained the purpose of Petra: "We definitely tried to play to our highest abilities, you know? Back in the earliest days, we were a lot more unproduced or raw because our equipment back then in the early 70s, even though it was the stuff that everybody was using, it didn't sound as good as what was available later on. But we always wanted to put on a great show and then at the end give everybody a chance to get saved. And I'm pretty sure that as long as Bob Hartman was in control of the band, the key to the ministry of Petra was Bob's songwriting and his ability to incorporate sound doctrine into rock and roll. It was phenomenal. And through his songwriting, he always gave people listening to the albums a chance to get saved, too. Bob taught in Bible college. When the rest of us were attending there, he was already teaching. I think he was teaching Systematic Theology or something."

Earlier, Bill mentioned the song Killing My Old Man. It's long been rumored that that song was recorded for Come and Join Us but was left off the album. I asked Bill if this was true.

"Yeah, they thought it was too controversial," he said. "It was scriptural, but they thought it was too controversial. And, you know, they were supposed to be the ones wanting to make sure that everything was theologically correct. We had managers and producers and all that stuff who were concerned about the message of every song. We thought that message was killer! We really thought it was a great message. We weren't trying to be controversial with that. There was nothing in that song that was not true. It was only controversial because of the title. They thought, 'Well, somebody might hear that and not know what it's talking about' or whatever. I guess that could happen."

Dan Brock also confirmed the story. "Bob Hartman was very fond of Killing My Old Man and yes, we did record it for the album. But after we had the album mastered, Myrrh decided that song was not appropriate for the record. Even though it was sound theology, the title scared them off so they had the album remastered without Killing My Old Man. That experience taught me to have more band-controlled language on future contracts I would negotiate." 

The Come and Join Us version of Killing My Old Man was never released. It was reportedly present on the original test pressing and, sadly, is presumed lost. In 1981 a new version of the song was recorded for the album Never Say Die and nobody died. No one even got hurt.  

Maybe the deletion of Killing My Old Man is the reason this album seems a little short, clocking in at under 36 minutes. And maybe that's the reason they felt the need to include an otherwise unnecessary reprise of God Gave Rock and Roll to You. The reprise begins creepily, with children singing the melody and no instrumental accompaniment. Then the band slowly fades in. It's almost 3 minutes of just a repetition of the chorus to God Gave Rock and Roll To You. There is one nice thing about it, though - it gave Greg X. Volz a chance to sky a little bit and give us a preview of coming attractions. 

I would be remiss if I didn't mention the cover art by Dennis Bellile and a great Petra logo by Craig Yoe of Yoe-Yoe Studio in Akron, Ohio. It's a classic album cover that, to me, belongs right up there with some of the best.

So I asked Bill Glover what he thought when he finally got a chance to hear the finished product.

"Oh, I was real proud of it," he said. "I was very happy with it. I think it's a great album. I think both of the Petra records that I played on have endured the test of time. Come and Join Us has a better drum sound on it, in my opinion, than any of the Petra albums after it until, I would say, Jekyll and Hyde. But that's just my opinion and my taste. But I do realize that it was groundbreaking work. And I'm very proud to have been a part of it and very fortunate to have been there at the time."

Dan Brock today

"I liked the evangelistic tone of Come and Join Us lyrically," added Dan Brock. "Musically, my favorite moments were when the two lead guitars of Bob and Greg Hough came together. Considering the year - 1977 - and the recording and marketing budget available at that time, I think it turned out pretty well. I do know that everyone involved worked hard and gave it their best effort. The project was a real learning experience for all involved and I remain grateful to have been able to launch my management career with it. In 1978, I took the band to Star Song Records where they remained for many years after I departed as their manager."

Come and Join Us was originally released on LP, 8-track, and cassette. But when Word Records struck a distribution deal with A&M in 1985, the album gained a wider hearing as it was reissued for the mainstream market on LP and cassette. In 1995 it was released on compact disc, in the Christian market by Word and in the mainstream market by Epic (albeit with a new, unfortunate track order that made no sense). 

It's been rumored that Bill Glover had an opportunity to sign back up and serve a second tour of duty as Petra's drummer. Is that really true? "Bob and I are real good friends and I've visited him on several occasions where we've done some reunions and different things," Glover said. "He approached me after they had to let Louie go and wanted me to come back to the band, but they wanted me to move to Nashville and I wasn't real hip on that. Because Petra had been together for, what, forty years at that point? And they weren't really selling records anymore. I said, 'You want me to move to Nashville?' I said, 'That's not gonna work.' Because I was, like, who knows if Petra is gonna be around tomorrow? And sure enough, after that Jekyll and Hyde album was released, Petra disbanded. So I'm glad I never moved to Nashville!"

If you're reading this, you know how this story ended, right? The group struggled in the immediate aftermath of Come and Join Us. But after a few years of wandering around in the wilderness, Petra developed into the most durable, successful and effective band in the history of Christian rock music. A career that spanned more than three decades...20 studio albums (including 3 Spanish language albums and 2 live recordings)...10 million albums sold...nominated for 13 Grammy Awards, winning 4...and 10 Dove Awards

They had a song reach the #1 position on 3 Christian radio charts simultaneously. At the height of their popularity, they performed an average of 160 concerts per year. They were among the first bands to tour with extensive light shows and special effects. They were the only Christian band invited to play at the historic Farm Aid festival. They were the subject of numerous ‘greatest hits’ compilations, including a tribute album that featured modern rock acts covering their favorite Petra songs. They were the first Christian band to be enshrined in the Hard Rock CafĂ©. And they were inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in the year 2000. 

Most importantly, they saw multiplied thousands of people born into the kingdom of God as a result of their efforts. And they strengthened and encouraged the faith of countless numbers of believers around the globe. 

"It wasn't like we planned any of that," said Bill Glover. "It was all in the Lord's plans. He's the One who put it together, we just happened to be there at the right time. And it was groundbreaking work, I realize that. There's a lot of people who aren't Christians who have never heard of Petra. But as far as Christians go, especially ones that are my age, your age, and even younger - a lot of them have experienced Jesus because of Petra, we recognize that. But it's really a humbling situation. And it's an honor."

Bill's voice softens as the weight of his words seem to register with him as he's speaking. "We didn't plan this. We make our plans but the Lord orders our steps. And He just put it all together. That's all I can say." 

Fun Fact: In the credits for Come and Join Us, the band thanks the following people (among many others) for their "inspiration and support of Petra through the years"...

John Lloyd (of Adam's Apple fame), Al Perkins, Mark Hollingsworth (who would eventually become their manager), Honeytree, Steve Camp, Randy Matthews and Phil Keaggy.