The History of Christian Rock Music

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,

Discover the rich history of Christian rock music, from its early beginnings in the Jesus Movement of the 1960s and 1970s to its present day popularity.

The origins of Christian rock music

The origins of Christian rock music can be traced back to the late 1960s and early 1970s. Artists such as Larry Norman, Billy Graham, and Bob Dylan were some of the first to start experimenting with rock and roll music in a religious context. Norman’s 1967 album “Only Visiting This Planet” is often cited as the first Christian rock album. The genre really started to take off in the 1970s with bands like Petra, Resurrection Band, and Mylon Lefevre & Broken Heart.

In the 1980s, Christian rock began to achieve mainstream success with artists like Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith, and DC Talk. The genre has continued to grow in popularity in the years since, with bands like Jars of Clay, Switchfoot, and Evaenstein gaining mainstream attention.

The early days of Christian rock music

The history of Christian rock music can be traced back to the early days of rock and roll. Christian rock bands began popping up in the 1960s, when young Christians started playing rock music in an effort to spread their faith to a wider audience. One of the earliest and most influential Christian rock bands was Larry Norman and the Crusade, who released their debut album, Upon This Rock, in 1969. Norman’s lyrics often tackled social issues from a Christian perspective, and his music helped to pave the way for other Christian rock bands that followed in his footsteps.

In the 1970s and 1980s, Christian rock began to gain traction within the mainstream music industry. Bands like Petra and Stryper found commercial success with their albums on secular radio stations and MTV. As Christian rock became more popular, some pastors and churches began to voice their opposition to the genre, arguing that it was a corrupting influence on young Christians. Nonetheless, Christian rock continued to grow in popularity throughout the late 20th century, with bands like dc Talk, Jars of Clay, and Third Day achieving widespread success.

Today, Christian rock is more popular than ever before. The genre has continued to evolve over the years, incorporating elements from other musical styles such as hip-hop and electronic dance music. With its positive message and catchy tunes, Christian rock continues to inspire both believers and non-believers alike.

The rise of Christian rock music in the 1970s

Christian rock music is a genre of popular music that originated in the 1970s with the aim of Evangelical Christians. The style of Christian rock was influenced by the style of rock music and sought to appeal to a younger audience than traditional Christian music.

One of the earliest and most successful Christian rock bands was formed in 1971 by Bob Dylan’s former backing band, including Robbie Robertson, Levon Helm, Rick Danko, and Garth Hudson. The group, called The Band, recorded two albums with a Christian message before disbanding in 1976.

The Jesus Movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s also played a significant role in the development of Christian rock music. Jesus Music artists such as Larry Norman, Randy Stonehill, and Mark Heard were pioneers of the genre and helped to introduce it to a wider audience.

The success of groups like Petula Clark, UFOs, Jethro Tull, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, and others in the mainstream rock world also paved the way for Christian rock artists to find commercial success. In the 1980s, Christian rock bands such as Stryper and White Heart achieved significant popularity among both Christians and non-Christians alike.

Today, Christian rock continues to be a popular genre with both Christians and non-Christians alike. Artists such as Switchfoot, Relient K, Skillet, RED, Tobymac,, Newsboys,, POD,, MercyMe,, Audio Adrenaline,, dc Talk,, Amy Grant,, Michael W. Smith,, Casting Crowns,, Hillsong United,, Kutless,, Jars of Clay,, Mandisa,, Jeremy Camp,, Superchick,, Sanctus Real , Flyleaf , Fireflight , Decyfer Down are some of the more popular contemporary acts

The popularity of Christian rock music in the 1980s

1980s – Explosive Growth
The 1980s saw an explosion of Christian rock music with the introduction of new artists and styles. CCM magazine’s annual reader’s poll named Amy Grant the artist of the year in 1980 and 1981, while DC Talk and Michael W. Smith were named top new artists in 1989 and 1990, respectively. The popularity of Christian rock music continued to grow in the 1990s with the success of artists such as Jars of Clay, DC Talk, Audio Adrenaline, P.O.D., and switches.

The influence of Christian rock music in the 1990s

In the 1990s, Christian rock music became an increasingly popular genre, with a number of chart-topping bands and artists. This rise in popularity was partly due to the growing acceptance of Christian rock music within the mainstream music industry, as well as the increasing number of young people who were drawn to the genre.

One of the most successful Christian rock bands of the 1990s was Jars of Clay, whose debut album went platinum and won a Grammy Award. Other popular Christian rock bands included dc Talk, who were one of the first crossover successes from the genre, as well as Newsboys and Audio Adrenaline.

The success of Christian rock in the 1990s helped to pave the way for other contemporary Christian music genres, such as worship music and hip hop. Today, Christian rock is still going strong, with a number of popular artists and bands continuing to make chart-topping music.

The continued popularity of Christian rock music in the 2000s

The continued popularity of Christian rock music in the 2000s can be explained by a variety of factors. First, the growth of the Internet and social media made it easier for fans to connect with each other and find new music. In addition, many Christian rock bands toured extensively in the 2000s, giving fans more opportunities to see live music. Finally, the2000s saw a surge in the number of Christian rock festivals, which provided yet another outlet for fans to discover new music and connect with other fans.

The different subgenres of Christian rock music

Christian rock music is a genre of popular music that has been influenced by evangelical Christian teachings and Bible teaching. It first became popular in the 1970s withbands like Jesus Christ Superstar and Godspell. In the 1980s, it expanded to include more rock and pop-influenced sounds with bands like Stryper, DC Talk, Audio Adrenaline, and Newsboys. In the 1990s and 2000s, Christian rock music became even more popular and mainstream with bands like Creed, Evanescence, Jars of Clay, P.O.D., Skillet, and Switchfoot.

There are many different subgenres of Christian rock music, including alternative rock, post-grunge, hard rock, pop punk, punk rock, metalcore, nu metal, and emo. No matter what your taste in music is, there is probably a Christian rock band out there that you will enjoy!

The impact of Christian rock music on society

Since its inception in the late 1960s, Christian rock music has been a controversial genre. While its proponents argue that it is a valid form of expression for Christian beliefs, its detractors contend that it is a watered-down version of secular rock music and is needlessly offensive to non-believers.

Regardless of its critics, Christian rock music has had a significant impact on society. In the early days of the genre, bands such as amy Grant and dc talk helped to break down barriers between Christians and non-Christians by playing music that was popular with both groups. In recent years, artists like John Mark McMillan and whatshisname have continued to push the envelope with their innovative and experimental sounds.

While Christian rock music may not be everyone’s cup of tea, there is no denying its importance in the history of popular music.

The future of Christian rock music

It is hard to predict the future of any musical genre, but especially one as young and relatively undefined as Christian rock. In its short history, Christian rock has been through several major transitions and has been influenced by a variety of factors. Some believe that the genre is currently in a state of flux, with no clear direction or purpose. Others argue that the recent popularity of Christian rock among mainstream audiences is a sign that the genre is here to stay and will continue to grow in popularity.

No matter what the future holds, one thing is certain: Christian rock music has come a long way in a short amount of time, and it shows no signs of slowing down.

The top Christian rock bands of all time

In the early days of Christian rock music, there was very little in the way of standards or definitive works. The genre was largely underground, emerging out of the Jesus Movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s. But as the years went on, Christian rock bands began to find mainstream success, particularly in the United States. Here are five of the top Christian rock bands of all time.

1. DC Talk
One of the earliest and most successful Christian rock bands, DC Talk was formed in 1987 by Toby McKeehan, Michael Tait, and Kevin Max Smith. The trio found mainstream success with their 1995 album Jesus Freak, which went platinum in the United States. They disbanded in 2000 but reunited for a tour in 2018.

2. Jars of Clay
This band made history in 1995 when their debut album became the first ever Christian album to be certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). Jars of Clay is known for their intricate arrangements and lyrical depth, and they have won multiple Grammy awards over the course of their career.

3. Switchfoot
Hailing from San Diego, Switchfoot has been making music since 1996. The band found commercial success with their 2003 album The Beautiful Letdown, which sold over 2 million copies worldwide. They have continued to release chart-topping albums and have won several Grammy awards.

4. Needtobreathe
This South Carolina-based band has been making music since 2006 and found widespread success with their 2009 album The Outsiders. Needtobreathe has toured with some of the biggest names in music, including Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran, and their 2016 album Hard Love debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Rock Albums chart.

5. MercyMe
Formed in 1994, MercyMe is one of the longest-running bands on this list. The group found crossover success with their 2001 single “I Can Only Imagine” which reached No. 4 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart—an astonishing feat for a Christian song at that time (or any time!). MercyMe has released eight studio albums and continues to be one of the most popular Christian rock bands today.

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