Keith Green

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THE KEITH GREEN YEARS

Early in the landmark year of 1969 I met Keith and his father at an audition for “The Hollywood Palace”. I had worked for the last two years as a contract songwriter for Nick Vanoff the producer of the show. Although Keith was not given a spot on the Palace TV program, he wowed all of us with his huge talent. When his father brought him to me with the stated intent of getting him some more seasoning, I was honored and began a weekly time together with Keith. I had been in the music business since I was 13 and had been in the presence of many famous talents, but none had the charisma, the talent and the dynamic energy that Keith had.

Our usual time was spent with Keith at the piano and me in a chair next to him. We talked about life, about songwriting and about God. I might add here that at this time Keith was not a Christian and spent many weekends in the desert experimenting with Peyote and other hallucinogenics and drugs. I was Minister of Music at Reseda Christian Church in the San Fernando Valley of greater Los Angeles. Keith had a huge dislike of the Bible figure, Paul who he felt was a misogynist, and I would counsel him that you had to look at the times and the historical context to fully understand him, but that I had problems with him too.

It’s interesting to note that I produced Jesus Christ Superstar at my church in Reseda with Keith and I sharing a piano in the center of the chancel. He played Judas, like it hasn’t been done since, and I played Jesus. My Youth Choir was gathered around us and back a ways was the Chancel Choir singing their hearts out. Off to the left was a 4 man rock band, and Keith and I supplied the keyboards. The church was packed with 900 people and the electricity in the room was overpowering. It was amazing.

During our time together we wrote 8 finished songs and parts of others that we dropped. We had one record released by ERA. One side was “Sgt. Pepper’s Epitaph” and the B side, “Country Store.” Keith appeared one day and said, “The Beatles just broke up. What are we going to do?” Well we wrote a song and it was out a week later. It is interesting to note that Keith performed “Sgt. Pepper’s Epitaph” live on a KABC Los Angeles television news program a scant week after the impact of the news of the break up began to take affect all around the world. We were sad that our song wasn’t used more to help us transition to a “Beatlesless society”.

I made demos of all our songs in my little 4 track studio. I include them here for your listening pleasure. As I played them back for probably the first time in 20 years, I got choked up with the memories of what Keith and I shared and the life cut way too short. Can you imagine what he could have come up with in his 30’s or 40’s. We often talked about doing a musical on “Dante’s Inferno”. I have a great love for the theater and would have loved to have experienced the outcome of that.

May God be with all of you, inside where he can do the most good.
– Jack Walker