MUSIC MONDAY:Keith Green Story (Part 1)

The Keith Green Story pt 1/7

Keith Green had a major impact on me when I first heard him in 1978. Here is his story below:

Keith Gordon Green (, 1953 ? , 1982) was an American gospel singer, songwriter, musician, and Contemporary Christian Music artist originally from Sheepshead Bay, New York. 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.”

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. 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 portrayal” as “the little Italian street urchin, Mauro”; 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. According to the LA Times, Keith had already “done a number of television commercials and…made a TV pilot.”

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.
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 under his belt, 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), 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).

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”. 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.

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. His journey led him to drugs, 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 would later state, however, that in the midst of his skepticism, he felt that God “broke through 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.

The Keith Green Story pt 2/7

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