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  • Writer's pictureJoel Caballero

Keith Green

Updated: Jan 20


Keith Gordon Green (October 21, 1953 – July 28, 1982) was an American pianist, singer, songwriter and well known pioneer in the contemporary Christian music genre, who was originally from Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, New York. His most notable songs are "There Is a Redeemer," which was written by his wife Melody, "Oh Lord You're Beautiful" and "(Until) Your Love Broke Through." Two of his albums, For Him Who Has Ears to Hear and So You Wanna Go Back to Egypt, were both on the 100 Greatest Albums in Christian Music list by CCM Magazine.


In 1957, his family moved to Canoga Park, Los Angeles, California where he grew up. Green's parents were Jewish Christian Scientists and the family had a history of musical performance. According to his wife Melody, "growing up in an atmosphere of moral purity, free of alcohol and drugs, had a wonderfully preserving effect on Keith during his early years." In 1961, Green made his debut in an off-Broadway revival of The Time of the Cuckoo and also played Kurt von Trapp in the opening production of The Sound of Music when he was 10 years old.


In 1965, Green signed a 5-year general market music contract with Decca Records and was expected to be the next teen idol. He did become the youngest member of ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers) at the age of 11. The national attention that had been envisioned by Decca Records failed to materialize for Green, however, as Donny Osmond captured the attention of preteens and teenagers, eclipsing Green's newfound stardom; and he was quickly forgotten by the public.


He grew up reading the New Testament and called the mixture of being Jewish and learning about Jesus "an odd combination" that left him open-minded but confused and deeply unsatisfied. As a teen perceiving his music career had failed, he ran away from home, began smoking marijuana, and used some psychedelics in hopes of finding spiritual truth. He became interested in eastern mysticism and the "free love" culture. His five year spiritual quest eventually led him back to the Bible, writing his diary in December 1972, "Jesus, you are hereby officially welcomed into me."


In 1976, Green performed on the Firewind project, a musical written by the Talbot Brothers (John Michael and Terry) and Jamie Owens (Collins). That same year, he signed with Sparrow Records and a year later released his debut album For Him Who Has Ears to Hear. In 1978, Green released his second album No Compromise, in which his wife Melody wrote that the title "seemed to capture the heart of what Keith wanted to say to other Christians—that they needed to quit compromising, stop listening to the voice of the world, and start living committed lives." That same year, Green formed and founded Last Days Ministries and began publishing its newsletter in their garage.


In 1979, the Greens, along with Last Days Ministries, moved from San Fernando Valley, California to Garden Valley, Texas, a crossroads community about 9 miles west of Lindale, Texas. That same year, Green negotiated a release from his contract with Sparrow and 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). Some in the gospel industry labeled Green a "kook" for his unorthodox methods, but Green believed he had to practice what he preached, and he felt he could not charge $8.98 for a record when the gospel and salvation were free.


On July 28, 1982, Green died in a plane crash while attempting to survey the Last Days Ministries compound along with his two children, a husband and wife church planter with their six children and the pilot of the small-twin engine plane.

Green's wife Melody was at home with one-year-old Rebekah and six weeks pregnant with their fourth child, Rachel, who was born in March 1983. Melody now presides over Last Days Ministries and continued to lead it in Texas until 1996 when she moved to California and launched Last Days Ministries Online where all of Green's writings are free and his music can be found. The free monthly Last Days Ministries Newsletter is also sent out by request. Melody maintains the Keith Green Facebook page to honor Keith and also shares her opinions on the Melody Green Facebook Page where she interacts with Green's fans and Last Days Ministries fans.


Since Green's passing, posthumous albums and many compilation albums were released. Tribute albums were also released with many Christian artists covering his songs, including No Compromise: Remembering the Music of Keith Green (1992) and Your Love Broke Through: The Worship Songs of Keith Green (2002). Green was posthumously inducted into the Gospel Music Association Hall of Fame in 2001.


More information on Keith Green at Wikipedia:


Discography


Career releases (1977 - 1982):


Posthumous and compilation releases: (1983 to present):

Make My Life a Prayer to You: Songs of Devotion (1998) (compilation album)

Oh Lord, You're Beautiful: Songs of Worship (1998) (compilation album)

Because of You: Songs of Testimony (1998) (compilation album)

Here Am I, Send Me: Songs of Evangelism (1998) (compilation album)

The Ultimate Collection (CD/DVD) (2002) (compilation album/video)

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