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Keith Green

Background information
Birth name Keith Gordon Green
Born October 21, 1953(1953-10-21), Sheepshead Bay, New York, U.S.
Died July 28, 1982 (aged 28), Garden Valley, Texas, U.S.
Genres Gospel, CCM
Occupations Singer, songwriter, musician, minister
Instruments Piano, guitar, bass guitar, percussion
Labels Pretty Good Records
Sparrow Records
Decca Records

Keith Gordon Green (October 21, 1953 – July 28, 1982) was an American gospel singer, songwriter, musician, and Contemporary Christian Music artist originally from Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, New York.[1] Green is best known for his strong devotion to Christian evangelism and encouraging others to the same. Notable songs written by Green and/or his wife, Melody Green, include "Your Love Broke Through," "You Put This Love In My Heart," and "Asleep In The Light," as well as the popular modern hymns "O Lord, You're Beautiful" and "There Is A Redeemer."

Contents

Early life

Keith took to music at a young age, beginning with the ukulele at age three, the guitar at five, and the piano at seven years of age.[2] His talents were noted by a major newspaper by the time he was only eight years old. Following a performance of Arthur Laurents' The Time of the Cuckoo, a local review by the Los Angeles Times wrote that "roguish-looking, eight-year-old Keith Green gave a winning [character] portrayal"[3] as "the little Italian street urchin, Mauro";[4] another review commented that he "stole the show". The show was Keith's first appearance in live theater, which was held in Chatsworth, California, in September 1962.[2] According to the LA Times, Green had already "done a number of television commercials and...made a TV pilot."[2]

At 10 years old, Green went on to play the role of "Kurt von Trapp" in a local community theatre production of The Sound of Music at the Valley Music Theater in Woodland Hills, California.[2]

Keith Green's first disc release. The other side has the song The Way I Used To Be.

In February 1965, with forty original songs already written by him, Green and his father Harvey signed a five-year contract with Decca Records, with Harvey as business manager. The first song released on disc was The Way I Used to Be in May 1965 (produced by Gary Usher),[5] which he had earlier composed and published before signing on with Decca. Upon publication of this song, Green became the youngest person ever to sign with the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP).[2]

Decca Records planned to make Green a teen idol, regularly getting the young pre-teenager featured in fanzines like Teen Scene and on popular television shows like The Jack Benny Show and The Steve Allen Show. The television game show I've Got a Secret made an exception to his age of eleven and hosted him on the show (May 3, 1965) with his secret, "I just signed a five-year contract as a rock-'n'-roll singer," and ended his segment with a live performance of We'll Do a Lot of Things Together.

By the time Green was twelve, he had written ten more songs, and Time magazine ran a short piece about Green in an article about aspiring young rock-'n'-roll singers, referring to him as Decca Records' "prepubescent dreamboat".[6] However, after national attention envisioned by Decca Records failed to materialize for Keith, Donny Osmond captured the attention of pre-teens and teenagers, eclipsing Keith's newfound stardom, and Keith was quickly forgotten by the public.[7]

Spiritual conversion

Keith had a Jewish and Christian Science background but grew up reading the New Testament. He called it "an odd combination" that left him open minded but deeply unsatisfied. He began doing drugs and became interested in South Asian mysticism and "free love." After experiencing what Green described as a "bad trip," he abandoned drug use and became bitter towards philosophy and theology in general. Green later stated, however, that in the midst of his skepticism, he felt that God "broke through [his] calloused heart," and he became a born-again Christian. Soon afterward, Keith's wife Melody (whom he had married on Christmas Day 1973) also became a born-again Christian. It was during this time that the newlyweds became involved with the Vineyard Christian Fellowship in Southern California.

Ministry

In 1975, the Greens began an outreach program in the suburbs of Los Angeles, California, in the San Fernando Valley. Purchasing the home next door to their own and renting an additional five in the same neighborhood, Keith and Melody provided a environment of Christian teaching for a group of young adults, the majority of whom were of college age. Much to the consternation of neighbors, those living in the Green's homes included former drug addicts, the homeless and even some prostitutes who had been referred to the Greens by other ministries and shelters. In 1977, the Greens outreach was officially named Last Days Ministries.[8]

Keith Green's initial tone of ministry was largely influenced by Leonard Ravenhill, who pointed Keith to Charles Finney, a nineteenth century revivalist preacher who preached the law of God to provoke conviction in his hearers. During his concerts he would often exhort his listeners to repent and commit themselves more wholly to following Christ. Green later softened his approach, and this transition is evident in his music beginning with So You Wanna Go Back To Egypt in 1980.

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Recording

Green was signed to Contemporary Christian music label Sparrow Records in 1976 and worked on the album Firewind (1976) with Christian artists 2nd Chapter of Acts, Terry Talbot, John Michael Talbot, and Barry McGuire. His first solo project, For Him Who Has Ears to Hear, was released in 1977 and his second solo release, No Compromise, followed in 1978.

In 1979, after negotiating a release from his contract with Sparrow, Green initiated a new policy of refusing to charge money for concerts or albums. Keith and Melody mortgaged their home to privately finance Green's next album, So You Wanna Go Back To Egypt. The album, which featured a guest appearance by Bob Dylan, was offered through mail-order and at concerts for a price determined by the purchaser. By May 1982, Green had shipped out more than 200,000 units of his album – 61,000 for free. Subsequent albums included The Keith Green Collection (1981) and Songs For The Shepherd (1982).

When his music was carried by Christian bookstores, a second cassette was included free of charge for every cassette purchased to give away to a friend to help spread the Gospel.

Last Days Ministries

In 1978, Last Days Ministries (LDM) began publishing the Last Days Newsletter. Originally printed on a few pages of loose paper, the newsletter grew in content to eventually become a "small, colorful magazine" and was renamed in mid-1985 as the Last Days Magazine.[9] The magazine featured articles by Green and his wife as well as contemporary Christian authors David Wilkerson, Leonard Ravenhill, and Winkie Pratney, all of whom lived in the area. The publication also later included the reprinted works of classic Christian authors such as Charles Finney, John Wesley, and William Booth and his wife Catherine. Most of the articles were reprinted as tracts. By the mid-1980's, the Last Days Magazine was sent out to over 500,000 people worldwide.[10]

In 1979, the ministry relocated from the San Fernando Valley to a 40-acre (160,000 m2) plot of land in Garden Valley, Texas[11], a crossroads community about nine miles (14 km) west of Lindale, Texas. Within a few years, Last Days purchased additional land, bringing the total to 140 acres (0.6 km2).

Plane crash

Gravesite at Garden Valley Cemetery

Along with eleven others, Keith Green died on July 28, 1982, when the Cessna 414 leased by Last Days Ministries crashed after takeoff from the private airstrip located on the LDM property. The small two-engine plane was carrying eleven passengers and the pilot, Don Burmeister for an aerial tour[12] of the LDM property and the surrounding area. Green and two of his children, three year old Josiah, and two year old Bethany, were on board the plane, along with visiting missionaries John and Dede Smalley and their six children.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) determined that the basic cause of the crash was caused by the pilot in command (PIC) allowing the aircraft to be loaded beyond its' operating limitations. Had the pilot performed the required pre-flight weight and balance computations, he would have realized it was dangerously overloaded and also outside the weight and balance operating envelope. Don Alan Burmeister was a former United States Marine Corps aviator, but FAA records show he had very limited experience / training in flying conventional (vs. centerline thrust) twin engine aircraft. Records show it was only a short time prior to the accident (6/9/82) that he completed a check-ride to remove the "centerline thrust" restriction from his pilot's certificate. This check-ride should have fully evaluated his ability to fly a conventional multi-engine aircraft throughout its’ designed range of operations; but it’s doubtful this occurred since the flight examiner was decertified the next month (7/10/82) by the FAA due to a "history of incomplete or substandard check-rides". Additionally, the insurance carrier (Ideal Mutual Insurance Co.) required Burmeister to log 1,045 hrs of flying time, attend a Cessna ground and flight training course, as well as log 15 hrs. in a Cessna 414 (C-414) prior to acting as the PIC of the leased aircraft. The NTSB record shows he failed to accomplish all of these minimum requirements with disastrous results. With a pilot and eleven passengers on board, the aircraft was estimated to be overloaded by 445 pounds (202 kg), and the critical location of the center of gravity was found to be 4.5 inches (110 mm) outside the maximum aft limit. When this was combined with a 90 degree air temperature, the C-414 could do little but struggle into the air, and once airborne was left virtually uncontrollable. All these factors precluded the aircraft from ever attaining a safe altitude, and resulted in it crashing into trees less than a mile from the airport. References: Ideal Mutual Insurance Co. vs. Last Days Evangelistic Association; U.S. Court of Appeals, 5th Circuit; 783 F.2d 1234 (1986); Goldberg; Circuit Judge. [13]. NTSB Brief of Accident: File No. 3323 (07/28/1982); FTW82AA299. NTSB Factual Aviation Report; NTSB ID: FTW82AA299. [14].

Keith, Josiah, and Bethany Green are interred at Garden Valley Cemetery behind the Garden Valley Baptist Church,[15] less than a half-mile from the LDM property. He was survived by his wife and two daughters, the youngest of whom was born after Green's death.

Legacy

Two full albums of original Green songs were released posthumously: The Prodigal Son (1983) and Jesus Commands Us to Go! (1984). Another release, I Only Want to See You There (1983) contained mostly previously released material. A compilation of his recorded work, The Ministry Years, was released as a two-volume set in 1987 and 1988 and included five previously unreleased songs.

Another unreleased Christian song known to have been recorded by Green was "Born Again," which was finally released in 1999, 17 years after his death, on the First Love compilation video and CD. Both feature a two-song tribute to Green by other Christian artists.

In 2008, Last Days Ministries and Sparrow Records partnered together and released The Live Experience - Special Edition, a CD/DVD combination of 16 live recordings and 4 hours of DVD footage including video of live performances as well as details regarding Green's life and his passing.[16] A "Greatest Hits" album was also released at the same time, including 17 of Green's most popular songs and one more previously unreleased Christian song, "Your Love Came Over Me".

On November 23, 2009, the EP Happy Birthday to You Jesus was released, containing a talk by Keith about Christmas and another previously unreleased song, "Happy Birthday to You Jesus".

A prolific personal journalist, Green's writings were published as excerpts in the books A Cry In The Wilderness (Sparrow, 1993), If You Love the Lord (Harvest House, 2000), and Make My Life a Prayer (Harvest House, 2001).

Tribute recordings

In 1992, several artists joined together to re-record many of Green's best-known songs for a tribute album called No Compromise: Remembering the Music of Keith Green under the Sparrow Records label. Artists contributing to the recording include Petra, Charlie Peacock, Susan Ashton, Margaret Becker, Michael Card, GLAD, Rich Mullins, Steven Curtis Chapman, Steve Green, and Russ Taff.

In 2001, BEC Records released a second tribute record Start Right Here: Remembering the Life of Keith Green. Produced by Derri Daugherty, the album included performances by new contemporary Christian artists MxPx, Joy Electric, Starflyer 59, among others.

At the twentieth anniversary of Keith's death, Sparrow Records released another tribute album, Your Love Broke Through: The Worship Songs of Keith Green. The 2002 album contains re-recordings by Rebecca St. James, Michelle Tumes, Chris Tomlin, Twila Paris, Darlene Zschech, Jason Upton, Martin Smith, Charlie Hall, Joanne Hogg, Matt Redman, Paul Oakley, and Sarah Sadler. The album contains contemporary Christian and mainstream artist Michael W. Smith's version of the song There Is One, an unfinished work by Keith Green. Composition of the song was completed by Smith, along with British songwriter and Christian music artist Martin Smith.

Last Days Ministries property

Green Hall dormitory, originally part of LDM property, was named after Keith Green when Teen Mania purchased the property in 1996

The LDM property was sold in 1996 and is now occupied by Teen Mania Ministries.[17] Teen Mania has dedicated one of its dormitories, Green Hall, in memory of Keith. Melody Green continues to operate Last Days Ministries from Oceanside, California.

Honors

On November 27, 2001, Keith Green was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame.

On April 3, 2006, Green was honored with the ASCAP Crescendo Award at the 28th annual ASCAP Christian Music Awards presentation dinner.[18] His widow, Melody Green, was present to receive the award for her late husband.

Quotes

"It's time to quit playing church and start being the Church (Matt. 18:20)" — Keith Green, as quoted by Melody Green in the introduction to A Cry in the Wilderness, Sparrow Press, 1993.

"I repent of ever having recorded one single song, and ever having performed one concert, if my music, and more importantly, my life has not provoked you into Godly jealousy or to sell out more completely to Jesus!" — Keith Green

"You shouldn't go to college unless God has definitely called you to go." — Keith Green, 'Why YOU should go to the mission field', 1982

"No Compromise is what the whole Gospel of Jesus is all about... 'For I tell you...no man can serve two masters...' (Matt. 6:24). In a day when believers seem to be trying to please both the world and the Lord (which is an impossible thing), when people are far more concerned about offending their friends than offending God, there is only one answer...Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Him!" — Keith Green, No Compromise album, 1978.

"He, being dead, yet speaketh."Leonard Ravenhill, Keith's mentor, borrowing from Hebrews 11:4 (KJV) in his 1990 2-page Memories of Keith tribute from a computer file, part of the Enhanced CD version of No Compromise by Melody Green with David Hazard.

Discography

Career releases: 1965-1982

Secular recordings

Besides the first disc release in May 1965 (pictured above), two more Decca disc releases occurred before Donny Osmond took the spotlight.

Girl Don't Tell Me, Decca 31859, released October 1965. The other song was How To Be Your Guy.
Home Town Girls, Decca 31973, released July 1966. The B-Side song was You're What's Happening Baby.


Sgt. Pepper's Epitaph (Era-Happy Tiger 108-A), 1970

Christian recordings

Posthumous releases

Christian recordings

Secular recordings

  • Keith Green Live (His Incredible Youth) (1995)
  • The Early Word (February 13, 2009)

Tribute albums

  • No Compromise: Remembering the Music of Keith Green (1993)
  • Start Right Here: Remembering the Life of Keith Green (2001)
  • Your Love Broke Through: The Worship Songs Of Keith Green (2002)

Bibliography

(All released posthumously)

  • No Compromise: The Life Story of Keith Green (1989)
  • A Cry In The Wilderness: Twelve Bold Messages About Uncompromising Faith (1993)
  • If You Love The Lord (2000)
  • Make My Life A Prayer (2001)

References

  1. ^ Curry, Matt. "Years after Keith Green’s death, recordings released", Maryville Daily Times, August 4, 2007. Accessed November 16, 2009. "Time magazine called the Sheepshead Bay, N.Y., native a 'pre-pubescent dreamboat' who 'croons in a voice trembling with conviction.'"
  2. ^ a b c d e Los Angeles Times, February 18, 1965, pg. SF1
  3. ^ Green, M. & Hazard, D. (2000) No Compromise: The Life Story of Keith Green, Chapter 2
  4. ^ Los Angeles Times, September 6, 1962, pg. G3
  5. ^ GaryUsher.com, Decca 31799
  6. ^ Time in the March 11, 1966, issue (Vol. 87, No. 10), "The Nubes" article in the Arts & Entertainment section.
  7. ^ No Compromise, Chapter 2
  8. ^ Last Days Ministries: History from the organization's official site.
  9. ^ The Last Days Magazine Vol 8 No 4 1985
  10. ^ Last Days Ministries: Last Days MagazineLast Days Ministries: Last Days Magazine from the organization's official site.
  11. ^ Last Days Ministries: Our StoryLast Days Ministries: Our Story from the organization's official site.
  12. ^ Last Days Ministries: Our StoryLast Days Ministries: Our Story from the organization's official site.
  13. ^ [1]
  14. ^ [2]
  15. ^ Smith County Archives gives directions to Garden Valley Cemetery.
  16. ^ The Live Experience - Special Edition information from Last Days Ministries site.
  17. ^ Based on information supplied by long-time LDM associate.
  18. ^ ASCAP Christian Music Awards presentation

External links


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