You started writing songs at the age of nine and signed with Capitol Records (EMI) in 1966. what has been the extent of your involvement in the mainstream of secular music?
Well, I was hardly what you'd call passionately involved. I was with Capitol for four years and MGM Records for three years but during that time I never really threw myself into trying to have a hit record or a typical career. I just kind of went my own way making music that I believed in. I can't really say that I personally, speaking as an artist, think of my own music in terms of secular or religious. I tend to think that I write neither; I just write what I feel, what I believe. I don't write gospel music, not by my definition, but I certainly have written a lot of my feelings about God down into my music. I'm a Christian. God is the centre of my life and my efforts. You'll find God in almost all of my songs, not because they are gospel or religious songs, but because they are songs about MY life, my life itself is centred around God.
Getting back to the second part of your question, I put out three albums on Capitol and two on MGM. I performed at all the places you'd expect, like the Fillmore West in San Francisco, the Avalon, the San Francisco Pop Festival and did a lot of concerts with The Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Moby Grape, Linda Ronstadt, The Who, The Byrds, you know, the hippie constituency. Except I didn't sing about drugs or whatever. I wrote my own kind of songs about my own kinds of beliefs.
Why did you turn your back on a secular career?
You mean why didn't I sing the love songs and you-left-me-baby heartbreak songs like everyone else? I guess because I don't see any point in having a normal career like you end up with if you follow the rules of successful career building. All you end up with is money and recognition. Isn't there more to life than that? I think so, so I'm out to follow a different direction. I have little desire for the standard rock star routine. But really I don't think of myself as having turned my back on a career. I haven't run off chasing stardom, I've just stood my ground and done what I think I'm supposed to he doing.
Do you think the Jesus Revolution was a failure?
I'm not sure how you can measure something as a failure until you gauge how far below intended goals an effort has fallen. And I m not sure what the goals of the British revolution were. Or the American version. Only God can measure the spiritual growth or personal revival of an individual or a nation. As far as I can see the shell of the church culture was cracked and a little more warmth and love has come because of it.
What is the present situation with solid rock and what are your plans for the future?
I have very few plans for Solid Rock at all. Originally, I started Solid Rock as a way of helping other young artists become established. My plan has always been to provide them with an intense education, support their efforts with concerts and record production, and then graduate them into the mainstream where they can stand on their own feet. I've been able to get Randy Stonehill to the point where Myrrh Records has signed him directly, while others, like Mark Heard, Tom Howard, and Daniel Amos have all signed with different American companies like New Pax. I've helped about fifteen people get contracts so far, and all the old Solid Rock crowd has graduated and I'm working with new and younger artists now.
What made you decide to work with Chapel Lane?
Well, kind of the same reason. I really believe in what Chapel Lane is doing, helping British artists to become established. I've always supported Alwyn Wall and talked about him in America and Australia; even wrote a song about Malcolm and Alwyn. I think Norman Barratt is a rare find and I'm just glad to see that there is a British company helping English artists. I intend to go on helping unknown American artists become established in the wider community and I hope Chapel Lane inspires other companies to do a similar work with English artists.