Classic Petra Biography
Petra has been a pioneer of the Christian rock and contemporary Christian music genres. Formed in 1972 in Fort Wayne, Indiana, while attending a Bible school, the band took its name from the Greek word for “rock”. They began by playing in parks, prisons, and coffeehouses in the Midwest until everything changed for them when they got an offer to record an album. Myrrh Records was a division of Word Inc., reserved for it’s
contemporary artists but nothing they had ever done prepared them for Petra’s style of
rock, which began as a southern rock sound and later evolved into progressive rock. As
it turns out, the Church wasn’t prepared for Petra’s sound either. They were blackballed from some Christian bookstores, decried from pulpits across America and sometimes picketed at their concerts. But their fans found them and their record sales began to skyrocket. By the mid ’80’s their concert ticket sales were envied by many secular artists, as they crisscrossed the country building an ever larger and loyal fanbase.
Throughout the 1980s and into early 1990s, Classic Petra was undoubtedly the world’s most popular Christian rock band, with each of its albums during that period selling hundreds of thousands of copies while the band sold out arenas and regularly placed songs at the top of the Christian radio charts. With their music and style, Classic Petra influenced numerous other artists and constantly broke new ground as they helped shape Contemporary Christian Music into what it is today.
In more than three decades, the band released 20 studio albums as well as two Spanish language and two live albums, selling nearly 10 million copies while being nominated
for 13 Grammy awards, winning four, and winning 10 Dove Awards. In 2000, Classic Petra was the first Christian rock band to be inducted to the Gospel Music Hall of Fame.”The doubts about popular music mixing with Christian lyrics have mostly vanished due to their 25-year track record of proven ministry and changed lives. Petra was a true pioneer for our industry,” GMA President Frank Breeden said at the time. Classic Petra was the first Christian band whose memorabilia was included in the Hard Rock Cafe restaurant chain and they were the first and only Christian band to play at the 1992 Farm Aid concert. Many other Christian artists have recorded tributes to Petra. Country artist Tim McGraw has included Petra’s song, “More Power To Ya” in some of his concerts.
Classic Petra reunion
In early 2010, Petra announced the reunion of its “classic” 80s lineup, which consists of vocalist Greg X. Volz, guitarist Bob Hartman, bassist Mark Kelly, drummer Louie
Weaver, and keyboardist John Lawry. They released a CD late fall of 2010 featuring new material and re-recordings of hits from that era. Early spring of this year the band released a live record. The band is releasing a DVD July 6, 2011 and TBN is launching a documentary and live show a few days later on July 9 that will be broadcast internationally to over 250 million viewers prime time. The band has started their world tour in Australia and Europe the spring of this year titled “Back To the Rock”. The band’s mission statement is succinct and to the point: Ps. 78:35 “Then they remembered that God was their rock, And the Most High God their Redeemer. The tour will continue across the globe throughout 2011 & 2012.
Why the reunion ? At a time when the music business is struggling to redefine itself,
Classic Petra’s unwavering commitment to who and what they are will serve as a reminder of what CCM used to be and what it can be again. Classic Petra has never relied on being fashionable to win their fans. But even though their appeal has always been to the spiritual side of an audience, musically Petra can still compete with the best acts on the road today. These “elder statesmen” of Christian music hope their return will be a call to their audience to return to that fervent faith of their youth and reestablish the firm foundation and message that marked CCM in those early years. They believe Gospel music can once again have that compelling appeal.
MGMT: Michael Nachtigal – September Productions
BOOKING: Ember Tanksley – William Morris Endeavor