by Jerry Stanley
50 years ago, as the greatest spiritual awakening in over half a century was taking place in America, a new genre of music was born, called Jesus Music. That music paved the way and laid the foundation for what would become an industry, Contemporary Christian Music. At the forefront was a band called LoveSong.
A feature-length documentary film is in production that will chronicle the history making impact of the music and ministry of Chuck Girard, Jay Truax, Tommy Coomes, Bob Wall, John Mehler, and other members including Fred Field and Phil Keaggy. The film will also tell the story of the rise of the Jesus Movement through the early 70s and beyond, and the pivotal role that music played in the Jesus Movement. At present the production team, including Executive Producers Ron Strand of the Upper Room Presents and LoveSong is in the process of raising the remaining funds for post-production to complete the project.
A crowdfund site has been set up on Indiegogo.com, for tax-deductible donations, that runs through the end of December, HERE.
Donors can also become part of making this important and seminal film happen, by going to the bands website and making a donation, https://www.lovesongtheband.com.
The film is scheduled for completion by mid-year 2022, which just happens to coincide with the release of LoveSong’s first groundbreaking self-titled album all those years ago.
THE FULL STORY: Enter The Jesus Movement!
50 years ago, the hippie generation became disillusioned after Woodstock with the failed “peace and love” movement. So many from the counterculture were left wondering and searching for answers. Chuck Girard, founder of the band, summed it up this way, “Where do we go from here? Enter the Jesus Movement!”
God’s spirit swept across the country and a spiritual awakening like America has never seen in more than half a century took off like a blaze out of control.
The Birth of Jesus Music
The Jesus Movement ignited a fire and a passion in millions of “born again” believers from the youth culture. Musicians and artists began to express their newfound faith and love through song and the movement gave birth to a new genre of music… JESUS MUSIC!
In early 1970, four professional musicians became “new believers” and began writing and performing their style of Jesus Music. One fateful day they walked into Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa and played a few samples of their songs for Pastor Chuck Smith. The rest, as the saying goes, is history. Calvary Chapel became the epicenter in Southern California for a supernatural move of the Holy Spirit drawing young and old to newfound faith and rebirth through a relationship with Jesus.
God would use the band LoveSong and their unique sound of Rock and Country Rock with vocal blends and arrangements that echoed of Crosby, Stills & Nash, the Beatles, and the Beach Boys. LoveSong was among the very first to bring music and ministry together at every performance, something completely new in modern ministry and music presentation. As pastor, author, evangelist Greg Laurie of Harvest Ministries would say, “The music of LoveSong was part of the early soundtrack of the last great American Revival.”
Gods Hand Was on Their Music
Audience members would remark that their music was truly different. Jay Truax, of LoveSong recalls, “You could literally feel the presence of God and the anointing of the Holy Spirit when we sang, it was amazing to experience.” Chuck Girard recalls that many times, “you could look out on the audience and see the spirit moving, you could see it like a ripple thru the crowd.”
The turbulent 60s and 70s, recalled by band member Tommy Coomes, “Was a grand experiment and there was a hunger to know God and truth.” Presenting the Gospel message wrapped in a rock and roll beat was revolutionary. It was a language the youth culture understood with a message delivered as lyrical scripture. The first wave of Jesus Music and that of LoveSong specifically was very evangelistic. Their music was cutting edge technically for the fledgling genre and set the standard for others to emulate as that first wave of artists emerged. The Gospel message was woven into just about everything they sang and also gave rise to the first wave of worship music.
In the summer of 1972, with the Jesus Movement hitting mainstream America, The Jesus Revolution landed on the cover of Time magazine and Look magazine, two giant print publications of the era. A youth ministry organization called Campus Crusade for Christ, headed by Dr. Bill Bright and featuring evangelist, Billy Graham, would stage an event in Dallas, Texas called Explo ’72. The gathering would launch the single largest outreach event the nation had ever seen. LoveSong’s demo tape found its way to those selecting youth music groups and artists. The band was booked to perform, sight unseen, simply on the excellence of their demo and what event producers recognized as “anointed music.” More than 100,000 people of faith would attend the weeklong training and evangelist outreach held at the Cotton Bowl stadium. Another 200,000 would overrun a parkway for the “Jesus Sound Explosion” concert. This massive music festival was dubbed, “The Christian Woodstock.” Chuck Girard recalls, “It was the first time many saw hippie Christians with long hair minister with rock and roll type music.” Once Billy Graham, the keynote speaker, came to the podium after LoveSong had performed, it was a sign of acceptance, “Many attendees said, well if it’s okay with Billy Graham it must be okay with God,” says Girard, “and that became a tipping point, in my view.”
LoveSong, Like the Beatles in The Philippines
As LoveSong’s first album took off and became widely successful for its time, the group was invited to tour in the Philippines. Little did they know how popular they had become. One of the songs from the album, “A Love Song,” would hit #1 on the secular pop charts in Manila. Once they landed, they were mobbed from the moment they stepped off the plane with screaming fans and press. They played to tens of thousands of people in a sold-out soccer stadium for four nights in a row with military security to get them on and off the stage. They also played at a university campus quad, to tens of thousands of screaming fans. Through it all, the band was never asked to compromise their message of faith in Jesus. It was a concert tour like no other and sadly, there was precious little local and national media coverage since the Philippines were under martial law at that time and the media was severely restricted and censored.
The Legacy of LoveSong
LoveSong, along with Andre Crouch, Larry Norman and a select few, were pioneers of an emerging new kind of music. “They helped change the status quo of what was acceptable to be played in churches,” comments Chad Butler, drummer of the band Switchfoot. Pastor and author Skip Heitzig of Calvary Albuquerque, New Mexico says, “The Beatles and Bob Dylan were a voice of a generation, and LoveSong became the voice of our (Jesus People) generation.” Skip would go on to say, “Just as the British Invasion was not possible without the Beatles… the Worship Invasion would not have been possible without LoveSong.” Perhaps Chuck Girard summed it up best when asked to comment on their enduring legacy, “I think that we successfully communicated the gospel very effectively through music. To me, that’s what LoveSong has always been about.”
LoveSong’s music would go on to inspire a generation of new believers and the Jesus Music they helped give voice to has become what we recognize today as Contemporary Christian Music. Well known and successful artists of today from Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith, Steven Curtis Chapman, Third Day, Switchfoot, MercyMe, Jeremy Camp, TobyMac, and so many more, stand on the shoulders of LoveSong and their fellow music trail blazers of the Jesus Movement. It’s a legacy worth tipping your hat to as a believer, pastor, teacher, evangelist, youth leader, and worship leader.
So, the next time you hit play on one of your favorite Christian tunes, “Lend an ear to a love song.”