March 31, 2012



Longest Recorded Song

  • The longest recorded piece of music is by a band called Bull of Heaven. The play time of the song, "The Chosen Priest and Apostle of Infinite Space," is in excess of two months. A current project called "Longplayer" is attempting to create the world's longest song. The song is set to last almost 1,000 years; plans are that it will come to its conclusion just before the year 3000. 

    Britney Spears was offered Rihanna's chart topper "Umbrella," but her label turned it down. Rihanna went on to take the song to the top spots in Australia, Canada, Germany, France, the Republic of Ireland, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States. It also reached the top 10 in many other countries.

  • *The video for "If I Could Turn Back Time" took place on board battleship USS Missouri, where Cher sang to a large group of sailors. The video was filmed on July 1st 1989 while the ship was stationed at the former Long Beach Naval Shipyard at Pier D along with the crew. The band played on the foredeck, and the whole vessel is rigged with spotlights, light racks and strobes and the crew is on the deck, waving with the rhythm. Cher's outfit, a fishnet body stocking under a very revealing black one-piece bathing suit, caused some controversy, and many TV networks refused to show the video. 
    *As well as being lead guitarist of the rock band Queen, Brian May is an animal activist. He formed the group, Save Me (named after the May-written Queen song), which campaigns for the protection of all animals against unnecessary, cruel and degrading treatment. As well as this, he is an astrophysicist and is the co-author of "Bang! – The Complete History of the Universe". Brian also has had a lifelong interest in collecting Victorian stereophotography and in 2009, with co-author Elena Vidal, he published his second book, "A Village Lost and Found", on the work of English stereophotography innovator TR William.*Clark Terry is one of the most prolific jazz musicians in history, having appeared on 905 known recording sessions, which makes him the most recorded trumpet player of all time. In comparison, Louis Armstrong performed on 620 sessions, Harry "Sweets" Edison on 563, and Dizzy Gillespie on 501.*Gene Autry's version of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer holds the distinction of being the only No.1 hit to fall completely off the chart after hitting No.1 the week of Christmas, 1949. The official date of its No. 1 status was for the week ending January 7, 1950, making it the first No.1 song of the 1950s. None the less, it sold 2.5 million copies the first year, eventually selling a total of 25 million, and it remained the second best-selling record of all time until the 1980s 
    *The Doors drummer John Densmore, and guitarist Robby Krieger worked as technical advisers on the 1991 film, The Doors. John also had a cameo role in the film, he played the studio engineer in the booth urging Jim (Val Kilmer) to call it a night in the opening sequence. Although impressed with Val's performance as Morrison, John & Robby were unhappy with the film as a whole.*In 1957 at the age of 13, guitarist Jimmy Page appeared on BBC TV 's "All Your Own" talent quest programme in a skiffle quartet. They played "Mama Don't Want To Skiffle Anymore" and another American-flavoured song, "In Them Ol' Cottonfields Back Home". When asked by the host Huw Wheldon what he wanted to do after schooling, Jimmy said, "I want to do biological research to find a cure for cancer, if it isn't discovered by then" 
    *Carlos Santana spent several years working as a dishwasher and busking for spare change on the streets of San Francisco before becoming a full-time professional musician. After the band, Santana's first audition, at the Avalon Ball Room in the summer of 1967, promoter Chet Helms told the band that they would never make it in the San Francisco Music Scene playing Latin fusion and suggested that Carlos should keep his day job washing dishes at Tick Tock's Drive-In on 3rd St *U2 album covers: The child on the cover of 'Boy' is Peter Rowan, a nephew of a friend of the band. Then 2 albums later, Peter was used again for the cover of 'War'
    *"Dueling Banjos" the instrumental composition by Arthur "Guitar Boogie" Smith made famous by the 1972 motion picture Deliverance. The song was composed in 1955 by Smith as a banjo instrumental he called "Feudin' Banjos". Smith recorded it, playing a four-string plectrum banjo and accompanied by five-string bluegrass banjo player Don Reno. The song went to No. 2 for four weeks on the U.S. pop chart in 1973 and topped the adult contemporary chart for two weeks the same year. BUT it also led to a successful lawsuit by the song's composer, since it was used in the film Deliverance without his permission
    *The front cover of E.L.O.s 4th album "Eldorado - A Symphony" officially known as simply Eldorado, was designed by Sharon Arden, later known as Sharon Osbourne (Ozzie's wife). It comprises a still from the popular 1939 film The Wizard of Oz... the ruby slippers.
    *The Beatles's Help! album cover features the group with their arms positioned to spell out a word in flag semaphore, but it does not read "help", as many believed. On the UK Parlophone release, the letters formed by The Beatles appear to be 'NUJV', whilst the slightly re-arranged US release on Capitol Records appeared to feature the letters 'NVUJ'*While many people believe Eric Clapton is nicknamed "Slow Hand(s)" because of his style of playing or even because his fingers are slow on the guitar; it is actually because once during a concert he played his guitar so hard that one of its strings broke, and he took time out to re-string it. As he did, the fans in attendance began a "slow hand" clap.*When The Inspiral Carpets headlined Reading Festival in 1990, they brought on a pantomime cow. The band's then guitar roadie, Noel Gallagher - now of Oasis, was one half of that cow.*John Lennon and Paul McCartney both had their first 'Beatles' haircut during a trip to Paris in 1961. The pair hooked up with old friend Jurgen Vollmer who they knew from Germany, who wore his hair brushed forward. Vollmer had copied the style from actor Jean Marais in the 1959 Jean Cocteau movie 'Le Testament d'Orphee'
    e US.

    *Johnny Cash was given the name "J.R." because his parents could not agree on a name, only on initials. When he enlisted in the United States Air Force, the military would not accept initials as his name, so he adopted John R. Cash as his legal name. In 1955, when signing with Sun Records, he took Johnny Cash as his stage name *According to the band, the song "Black Sabbath", released February 13th 1970, was inspired by a frightening experience that Geezer Butler had related to Ozzy Osbourne. In the days of Earth, Geezer painted his apartment matte black and placed several inverted crucifixes on the walls. Ozzie gave him a book about witchcraft. He read the book and placed the book on a shelf before going to sleep. When he woke up, he claims he saw a large black figure standing at the end of his bed. The figure disappeared and Geezer rushed to get the book, only to find that the book was gone. He then told Ozzie, who wrote the lyrics to the song*In 1986, David Gilmour purchased the houseboat Astoria which is moored on the River Thames near Hampton Court, and transformed it into a recording studio. The boat was built in 1911 for impresario Fred Karno, who wanted to have the best houseboat on the river. He designed it so that there could be an entire 90-piece orchestra playing on deck. The majority of the two most recent Pink Floyd albums, A Momentary Lapse of Reason and The Division Bell, as well as Dave Gilmour's 2006 solo release On an Island, were recorded there.*Elvis Presley has had the most Hot 100 entries with a total of 151 and Paul McCartney has written the most number-one hits with a total of 32 
    *Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys died in 1983, he drowned while swimming near his boat in California, US; Ronald Reagan, then President of America gave special permission so Dennis's body could be buried at sea 
    *As of 2005, according to The Guinness Book of World Records, Queen albums had spent a total of 1,322 weeks or twenty-seven years on the UK album charts; more time than any other musical act. In 2006 the Queens Greatest Hits album was the U K's all-time best selling album, with sales upwards of 5,407,587 copies, over 604,295 more copies than its nearest competitor, The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. The band has released a total of eighteen number one albums, eighteen number one singles, and ten number one DVDs worldwide making them one of the world's best-selling music artists. Their total album sales have been estimated at over 300 million worldwide including 32.5 million in the United States alone as of 2004..*English rock band, Black Sabbath, formed in Birmingham in 1968 by Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, and Bill Ward, was originally formed as a heavy blues-rock band named "Earth", the band began incorporating occult and horror-inspired lyrics with tuned-down guitars, and changed their name to "Black Sabbath". The band has since experienced multiple lineup changes, with a total of twenty-two former members.
    *George Harrison originally wrote "All Those Years Ago" for Ringo. Although he recorded it, Ringo thought it too high for his voice. When John Lennon got murdered, George altered the words and made it a tribute to John. Although the band had split up, all 3 remaining Beatles plus Linda McCartney are are featured on the track.

    *The famous long guitar intro to Led Zep's "Stairway To Heaven" is taken from the track "Taurus", which was composed and played by guitarist, the late Randy California when he was only 16 in 1967. The instrumental was dedicated to his Taurian girlfriend and recorded a year later by his band "Spirit". Led Zepplin heard it while on tour with Spirit in USA. (Randy Wolfe, was named "California" by his great friend of Jimi Hendrix, who tried to bring him to the UK, but Randy was too young at the time).*Elvis Costello worked as a computer operator for a cosmetics company while trying to make it as a musician and in 1977 he was arrested for performing outside a Hilton Hotel where there was a conference of Columbia Records executives. Shortly after he was signed to that label. 
    *Composer, Tchaikovsky was financed by a wealthy widow for 13 years, and at her request, they never met.*Eric Clapton removed the JJ Cale song, Cocaine from his set list because he felt it gave people the wrong message about cocaine. He started playing it again after he had re-arranged the song so the backup singers repeated the line, "that dirty cocaine." through the chorus
    *The Beatles song "Dear Prudence" was written about Mia Farrow's sister, Prudence, when she wouldn't come out and play with Mia and the Beatles at a religious retreat in India.*Sonny and Cher were initially known as Caesar and Cleo. 


March 30, 2012

Question of the week -- What is Americana music?

What is Americana music?

  Some things can not be defined. So in this case, I'm going to attempt to give you a brief definition to the best of my ability. Americana is derived from traditional roots music.  It is colored with everything from country to blues to folk, and a healthy gumbo of heart felt American pain, joy and history.  There's only one way to understand this beautiful diverse creative style and that is to seek it out and listen with your heart.

   Sad as it may be, Americana has been buried under the layers of commercial driven radio. Like a lot of the really great music that does not fit the three minute format, its not heard because it does not fit the perimeter of the dollar bill. Its time has come. Thanks to the disappearing monopolizing giant record labels and soon to be smaller radio stations, and the appearance of the digital age, it's finally got legs

 I was at Pro Audio in Atlanta with Christian recording Artist Luke James yesterday watching him spend his children's milk money. While I was standing there dreaming of owning all the cool gear they have, I met a Americana artist. He was telling me how he was on his way to Europe to do a tour. What an engaging conversation. I asked him how many dates he does in the good old U S of A. Sadly his response was, very few. Is it ironic that our roots music is bigger in the UK than at home?

Here's what the Brits think of our view on our own music:

Raymonde says American audiences focus too much on genres and the perception of being cool. “We think [Midlake] is super cool,” he says. “Because we appreciate that they’re amazing musicians with hearts and souls. Writing such moving songs about our world and how we relate to it is cool.”
The fragmentation and decentralization of culture also plays a part. “I think finding the best new music on the Internet is like looking for a new planet in a cloudy sky,” says Raymonde. He and Ellinghaus both say they’ve mainly discovered American bands from tapes or through other bands. Ellinghaus recently signed two new American bands, Tu Fawning and Wye Oak, and he says the reason was simply because they’d made records that blew him away.
Oh well it is what it is!
Click on join and become part of the AMP TEAM

March 27, 2012



   We predicted two years ago that the CD would go the way of the 8 track, cassette, and vinyl. We were right on target. What does this mean for the Artist? We think it's great! It will lessen cost, and simplify the distribution cycle. Of course we will want to have some CD's on hand for our diehard fans, as well as those who just won't let go of the piece of clumsy plastic. Guys get ready, times are a-changing and it's changing fast! AMP is ahead of the curve. Come join us, don't be left in the dust, wondering what happened.

  Here's a side note: the retail music industry will also go the way of the CD. If you work at a music store or are any way in the CD distribution business; I would be looking for a job. Also, the trend now in recording is to limit cuts to 5 on new projects. This will increase your ROI. Once again, times are a-changin!

 The major labels plan to abandon the CD format by the end of 2012 (or even earlier) and replace it with download/stream only releases via iTunes and related music services. The only CD-formats that will be left over will be the limited edition ones, which will of course not be available for every artist. The distribution model for these remaining CD releases would be primarily Amazon which is already the biggest CD retailer worldwide anyhow.

3 weeks ago we heard it for the first time and since then we have tried getting some feedback from EMI, Universal and Sony. All declined to comment.

The news doesn't come as a surprise to those who have been working in the business. In a piece that was published in a Q&A with the Alfa Matrix people back in June 2011 in the 1st issue of "Matrix Revelations", our chief editor Bernard Van Isacker said the following when asked if a CD would still exist in 5 years:"Yes, but in a different format. Normal CDs will no longer be available because they don't offer enough value, limited editions on the other hand will remain available and in demand for quite a few more years. I for one buy only limited editions because of the added value they offer: a nice design, extra bonus gadgets, etc. The album as we know it now however will be dead within 5 years, if it isn't even sooner. I predict that downloads will have replaced the CD album within the next 2 years. I don't see that as something negative, it just has run its course, let's leave the space to limited editions (including vinyl runs for bigger acts) and downloads instead."

It's a move that makes complete sense. CD's cost money, even when they don't sell because there is stock storage to be paid; a label also pays money to distributors when CDs get returned to the labels when not sold and so on. In short, abandoning the CD-format will make it possible to just focus on the release and the marketing of it and no longer focus on the distribution (since aggregators will do the work as far as dispatching the releases to services worldwide) and - expensive - stock maintenance. In the long run it will most surely mean the end for many music shops worldwide that only stock and sell CD releases. In the UK for instance HMV has problems paying the labels already and more will follow. It makes the distribution of CDs no longer worth it.

Also Amazon will benefit from this as it will surely become the one and only player when it comes to distribution of the remaining CD productions from labels. Packaged next to regular album downloads via its own Amazon MP3 service it will offer as a complimentary service.

The next monument to fall? That will be printed magazines as people will want to consume their information online where they also read most of the news.

What are your feelings? Is it a move that you like or not?

                    Click on join to become a part of the AMP TEAM, and comment. We want to hear from you!

Genius music practice where does it come from

Where does music come from?

How can we explain the vast differences in musical ability? How can one species produce Paul Simon and William Hung? Are we born with musical talent, or do we develop it? Let's sort through the research:
* Primitive musicality is, without question, built into our DNA 
- Two-day old infants show a preference for some music over others (
N. Masataka, 1999).
- Nearly all infants babble with melody and intonation (
Gardner, 1997, p. 251).
- At 1, children can often match pitch (Kessen, Levine & Peindich, 1978).
- At 1 1/2, children engage in spontaneous song (Kessen, Levine & Peindich, 1978)
- At 2 1/2, children show extended awareness of songs by others (Davidson, 1994, in 
R. Aiello)
While these early developments can be influenced by outside events, they clearly unfold according to a genetic blueprint.
We cannot say the same for the next phase of development:
* Beyond primitive ability, even basic musical development requires some modicum of encouragement and teaching.
- "Musical development continues beyond the age of 7 or so only in an environment that provides some sort of tutelage." (
Gardner, 1997, p. 253;Gardner, 1973Winner, 1982)
- Absolute ("perfect") pitch is not a genetic accident or random occurrence, but is developed in young childhood under specific external conditions (
D. Deutsch, 2004Takeuchi & Hulse, 1993).
Then, to take it to the next level, aspiring musicians need true instruction and a work ethic:
* Advanced musicianship requires methodical training and "deliberate practice"
- "Talent proves of no avail in the absence of thousands of hours of practice distributed over a decade or more, as the youngster gains facility in various first- and second-order musical symbol systems. (
Gardner, 1997, p. 256).
- The very best professional musicians practice the most and the smartest compared to the next best group of professional musicians, who in turn practice more and better than the third-best group (
Ericsson et al, 1993). Top musicians consistently require about ten years and 10,000 hours of practice to achieve the height of their virtuoso skill-level.
- Among student musicians, the best ones also practice more than the next-best, who practice more and better than the ones who eventually drop out (
Sloboda, Davidson, Howe, and Moore, 1996).
- raining, and to an individual's level of ambition/determination.
* Musical training physically alters the brain. Accomplished musicians have key differences in their brains -- not from birth but as a direct result of training.
 The point that I think shines through in all this research is that we need to sweep aside this old notion that most people simply don't have IT. The IT -- the greatness -- is something you acquire, not something you are given or are not given. Some may face too many obstacles to acquire IT but few are born with limitations so severe that the acquisition is inherently impossible.
My entire point is this. If you're not there yet, it does not mean you can't get there. Passion + Practice + Persistence + Hard work = IT.

                      Click on join to become part of the AMP TEAM

March 26, 2012

Atlanta #1 in child sex slavery: It's got to stop.

  I have never come close to having the passion I have for this ministry. The thought of child slavery makes me sick. We at AMP want to help stop this travesty. Help us and Streetlight Ministry bring awareness to this awful demonic activity. We must stop this. If you feel the same, go to comment on the blog, leave your info and we will get back to you asap on how you can help. Don't wait on somebody else; do put an end to this. It's been going on here way too long, and still happening every day.  Children are hurting!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
     AMP is partnering with Streetlight to put an end to this. We need your help!

Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. ~Ephesians 5:11

I have been a follower of Jesus for 14 years. I have taught and served as Chaplain at a Christian High School, served as a Youth Pastor, as an Associate Pastor and now as the Pastor / Planter of Midtown Church in Atlanta. Until last year I thought I understood evil and the work of Satan but what I have learned about Sex Trafficking and in particular Child Sex Trafficking has changed my perspective.

Metro Atlanta is the #1 market for child sex trafficking per capita in the USA, #13 in the world! 500 girls are exploited in Metro Atlanta every month. 7200 men pay for sex with adolescent females in Georgia each month. 90% of runaways become part of the sex trade. The average life expectancy of a child after getting into the sex trade is seven years! Street Gangs are becoming more and more involved in sex trafficking, bringing a new level of violence and control to the situation.

How did I not know anything about all of this prior to twelve months ago? I live in the city and have been leading a Christian community for six years. Well if you are anything like me you are aware of prostitution and you have some idea of where it happens but since you are not a part of that world you don't see it or know the depth of it. As I began to have God open my eyes to this unspeakable evil, I became heartbroken by what I have learned. Children are being sold as sex slaves all around us. It is a hidden world, so unspeakably evil it has to be totally hidden, but it is as real as your son or daughter. I have two teenage daughters, and knowing that someone's child is having this done to them is unbearable. When I had heard enough that I felt I needed to act, God led me to collaborate with some others to start 'STREETLIGHTS'.

STREETLIGHTS is a community of artists and non-profit groups who are committed to fighting this inhuman evil here in Atlanta and around the world. After talking with some people who have been involved in this fight for a while I became convinced of the need to raise awareness about this issue and activate people to volunteer and finance groups who are working in different areas of this problem.

Beginning last July Streetlights has put on three events to begin making a dent in the lack of awareness the general public has regarding this issue. The events feature live performances by visual artists, spoken word artists, music acts and dancers who have been gripped by this issue. Interspersed in the performances are representative of the groups involved sharing their heart about why they are in this fight. After the show we have a ministry fair to allow people to contribute and volunteer on the spot!

It is not enough for you and I to not participate in the evil that is child sex trafficking; we must expose this work of Satan. The destruction of lives and entire families that reaches through generations is what Satan is doing. Those who are trafficked, those who purchase them, and those who sell children for sex are all de-humanized in the process.

I believe Jesus' Church must lead this fight because we can not only expose the works of darkness but also shine the light of the gospel. The cure for this epidemic is Jesus!

Streetlight needs artists who can leverage their popularity to add their voice to this cause. What can you think of that is more important to stop? Can you be that artist? Do you know that artist? Can you help us by volunteering with us or another group in the fight?

Please take some time to look into this and once you have you will need to do something. I look forward to you joining us!

Todd Briggs

March 25, 2012

Sunday Morning Christian Recording Artist Testimony

Michael Sweet's Testimony

Michael Sweet's Testimony - Recording Artist:
Sweet is the co-founder and front man of the legendary Christian metal band Stryper.  Stryper, which stands for Salvation Through Redemption Yielding Peace, Encouragement and Righteousness, is derived from Isaiah 53:5 (KJV): “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.”

Originally known as Roxx Regime, the band is considered a pioneer in popularizing Christian rock music in the mainstream.  Since its inception in 1983, Stryper has sold more than 8 million records worldwide with several projects reaching gold status.  The group’s unprecedented 1986 album To Hell with the Devil went platinum and was named one of the “100 Greatest Albums in Christian Music” by CCM Magazine in 2001. Stryper has garnered seven RIAA Awards, two Dove Awards and 2 Golden Reel Awards.  The band’s latest album, Reborn, was released in 2005.

Sweet has also released four solo albums - his self-titled first release was voted “Favorite Album” in the CCM Readers Awards.  His latest worship-oriented disc, Him, is a powerful revamping of timeless standards of the Christian faith (,

Nobody who was around our band when we started out could deny that God is absolutely real.   We woke up to miracles every day and witnessed things that never could have happened without His intervention.  We saw homeless drug addicts strung out on heroine take their syringes out, break them and throw them in the trash can.  Then we witnessed them give their lives to Christ and be healed and cleaned at that very moment.

When I was growing up we weren’t a family that went to church on a regular basis – it was maybe a once a year event.  So it was surprising when my 15-year-old brother began tuning into televangelist Jimmy Swaggart, who at the time was packing out arenas.   Robert watched the program twice a week, every single week, and was really drawn into it.  Eventually, he convinced the whole family to watch with him.

One night as an invitation was given to accept Christ at the end of the program we all kind of looked at each other and said, “Let’s do this.”  We bowed our heads, said the Sinner’s Prayer and gave our lives to Christ. It was pretty amazing.

Right after that, we found a small local church and got involved with the music.  Unfortunately, after a few years of that going to church 2-3 times per week, Robert and I started getting into things that many teenagers get involved with like drinking and partying.  At that time we had a band and the influences all around us started to play a much larger role in our lives. Even though we went to church and loved it, the other side – the more “worldly” side of life took its toll and grabbed a hold of us.

From the time I was 14 until I was 19 our band played the whole club scene in Hollywood.  Week after week we were one of the house bands along with groups like “Ratt” and “Motley Crue.” The name of our band was “Roxx Regime,” and it was me, my brother Robert and guitarist Oz Fox.

We just kind of did our thing. I guess in comparison to hardcore drug addicts we were pretty tame, but we were drinking and experimenting with drugs, and it got to the point where we were going out partying every other night. We just kind of got caught up in and blinded by the lifestyle.  Even though we knew what was true and what was false and we knew there was a God and there was a devil, we found ourselves living very much outside of our belief system.

One night between sets at a gig, we went out on the sidewalk on Sunset Strip to take a break. Some people came up to us and gave us Christian flyers and witnessed and shared their faith with us. After a while it felt like a knife going straight through my heart ― I was thinking, I believed in this once…

A few days later I was in the rehearsal studio with the guys when in walked Kenny Metcalf.   We had done some shows with Kenny on occasion; he was known around town for being a partier and a drug user. We hadn’t seen him for a long time and he looked so different.  He was positively glowing ― he had a huge smile on his face and his eyes were sparkling.  He was absolutely radiant.  We’d never seen Kenny like that before.

We played some music for a while and when we stopped and took a break, Kenny shared with us that he’d committed his life to Christ.  What he said next set everything in motion.  He said he knew we had walked with the Lord at one point but had walked away.  “If you give your lives and your music and your band and all that you do back to God He’s going to do some incredible things with you guys.”

Kenny reminded us that we’d fallen away.  It’s fascinating to me because not only had Robert and I accepted Christ at an early age, but so had Oz. His mother had been involved in a Pentecostal church in the area and he’d gone to church on a regular basis just like we had.  Then he got into the band Black Sabbath and wound up doing too much partying… just like we had.  We had a lot in common, including the fact that we had all walked away from our faith.

After we spoke with Kenny Metcalf I felt very convicted and knew I had to make some changes.  As a group, we decided to commit the band to Christ and from that moment on, things snowballed.

We’d had our eye on one particular bass player named Tim Gaines who we thought would round out our group perfectly.  To us, he was the dream bassist; he looked great, he was an amazing player and he had great gear.  He was an ideal fit for our band.  But unfortunately, he was already in a band called Stormer.

One day we were looking through a magazine and saw a photo of Stormer but Tim wasn’t in the picture.  It was a surprise because he had been with the band for years.  My brother did some investigating and got his phone number and called his home.  When Tim’s mother picked up the telephone Robert said, “We’re three Christian guys in a band called Roxx Regime and we want to play music for God.”

Now, Stormer was a band that was totally on the other side… a long way from being a faith-oriented.  So imagine our surprise when Tim’s mother said he had left the band because he’d committed his life to Christ!  Oz and I were standing over Robert’s shoulder listening in; it was one of those moments where the hairs on your arm stand up and you get chills.  We couldn’t believe how God was putting it all together!

Tim came down to meet us the next day and joined the band.  From that moment on, we made a commitment to devote our lives – and our music – 100% to God.  After that we no longer felt like we were Roxx Regime – we were a brand new creation and needed a new name. This time we wanted a name with meaning that represented Christ. We came up with the name “Stryper” so every time people saw the name they would be reminded of Isaiah 53:5: “By His stripes we are healed.” That Scripture is basically what our stripes signify ― what Christ went through when He was beaten and nailed to the cross.

So many incredibly miraculous things took place and shape and form after that. We started doing a lot of local shows with different bands.  A woman named Darin Hinton came to one of those shows because she had heard about us.  There was quite a buzz surrounding the band at that time; we were in all the local papers and magazines… people were just trying to figure out who the heck we were, why we were selling out clubs and what the buzz was all about.

Well, Darin loved the band so much that she decided she wanted to get behind it.  It was incredible, she didn’t know us from Adam and she just pulled out her checkbook and invested $100,000 in the band.  Her financial support bought us a bunch of really nice equipment and put us in the studio.  Because of her generosity, we were able to record our first album, “Yellow and Black Attack.”  How could that not be a miracle?

That’s just one of a hundred stories of how God showed up in our lives … every single day something like that happened. Each morning we’d wake up and say, “What’s going to happen today?”

“Yellow and Black Attack” got the attention of Enigma Records, a big mainstream label.  They asked us to do a showcase for them so they could hear us play live.  We rented out a warehouse, set up a PA system and did a show just for them ― like a private mini concert for label staff.  There were maybe about 20 people in the audience.  It was very intimidating and we were of course very nervous, but they wound up really liking the band.

The funny thing is, we were so loud and the PA system was so poor that they couldn’t understand the lyrics.  But even though they didn’t get the words, they liked the band enough to sign us.  It wasn’t until after the negotiations were complete and the contract was signed that they found out we were a Christian band.  Now understand that this was far from a Christian label… they handled bands like Motley Crue and Poison, not a bunch of guys who rocked about Jesus.  They actually didn’t want to continue on with the band and regretted having signed us. But they decided to grin and bear it and God blessed our work so much that only three or four years later we were their biggest selling band.   It’s pretty wild.

Handling a Christian band was a pretty new experience for most of the people at the label.  I remember going to Burger King with the president of Enigma after one of our concerts.  There was a homeless guy out front who was completely whacked out.  We went and laid hands on him and prayed over him and he was literally a changed man.  The president of the label witnessed what happened and it blew him away.  He turned white as a ghost and had the most astonished look on this face.  He’d never experienced anything like that before.  At that moment he started to commit his life to Christ because he saw that it was real.

The entire journey was amazing … God just kept opening doors right and left.  No other Christian rock band could get airplay on MTV but God opened the door for that to happen.  It wasn’t because we were special and it wasn’t because we were better than anyone else. It was only because ― and I say this from the bottom of my heart ― because we were devoted to prayer and we were devoted to God.  We woke up and started our day with prayer, we prayed before every show and we prayed before every recording. It was all about prayer and belief and faith.  And because of that, God blessed it.  That’s the only reason why.

Every single day we saw how real God was, because miracles were happening all around us.  It was just impossible to deny it. We normally played at secular venues – that was our market.  It was a strange experience to walk out onstage in a huge arena and smell pot in the air and see the majority of the people drinking.   There were times when the aroma was so strong we had to have been high ourselves. Not everybody was partying though, but at least two-thirds of the crowd was made up of non-Christians, people that probably went to see bands like Bon Jovi the night before.

Inevitably, the audience would go from a rowdy, partying crowd to a passive group sitting at attention listening to our music.  And then to see 12,000 people say the Sinner’s Prayer together at the end of our show was awe-inspiring.

We took a lot of heat from the traditional Christian community because we played mainstream, secular venues rather than playing churches and Christian concert events.  Not only did we play these venues, but we had secular heavy metal bands open for us.  But that’s really what we were called to do. Our ministry was about having these bands open and bring in their crowd so we had an opportunity to share with them.  A lot of people in the church just couldn’t comprehend that.

We’ve always felt that it was our job to be a light in the world so unbelievers had an opportunity to hear the Gospel in way they could relate to.   There’s a gray area of course and we would be crossing the line if we went out to these venues with the intent of reaching out to them but still participated in the same things they do, like drinking and drugs.

But that’s true for all Christians.  If you hang out with 10 non-Christians at a dinner party and and get drunk and swear and do everything they do, then you’re not being an example of Christ.  That’s obviously hypocrisy.  But if you’re going out with those people and you’re being an example and you’re letting Christ shine through you, they’re going to walk away remembering that.  That’s our ministry, that’s what we’ve always been about; to hang out with people who don’t know Christ, 
whether they are another band or in the audience.

March 23, 2012

A $64,000 Question Still Needs an Answer

Earlier today, a few staff members at AMP (including myself) had the distinct pleasure of meeting Darryl Knight, a true pioneer in both the mobile media and social media industries. For a little more than the past decade, Mr. Knight has been involved with a multitude of early-stage companies with impressive success stories. Indeed, he truly was "Mr. Social-Mobile" before the the terms Mobile Media and Social Media were even coined.

In 2001, Mr. Knight founded
Arizan Corporation which was a well-known early entrant into the Mobile Internet. The company developed a content platform  for email attachments which was subsequently acquired by RIM 18 months later to the satisfaction of all parties involved.

His success with Arizan led to a number of similar success stories with mobile and social media innovators over the last ten years.  These days, Mr. Knight is the consummate "serial entrepreneur," holding different leadership positions at a number of companies including, MobileNext Group and Hope Now Ministries USA.

As soon as the meeting started, it was easy to understand the formula for his repeated success.  He is incredibly insightful, polite and charismatic, an expert in all facets of both industries and, most of all, down to earth.  He insisted we cut the formalities and call him Darryl.

Throughout the meeting, Darryl was very inquisitive about AMP and what our experts see for the future of the music industry.  He fired question after question at us in a truly engaging conversation.

As the meeting came to an end, Darryl asked a question which completely silenced us at first. "If the Association of Music Professionals were were a person rather than a trade enterprise, how would you describe them and what qualities would they possess?"

After a brief minute, I finally spoke up and broke the silence for our team, "AMP is a membership association representing a very diverse and rapidly evolving industry.  And, our members come first.  We really would have to ask our members who best represents them and their own personal qualities before we can best answer your question."

With that our meeting concluded.  However, I promised to get back with Darryl with an answer to his provocative question.

So what do you, our members and followers, think?  Given the present level of uncertainty in the music industry, what one person (real or fictional) could best lead us out of the darkness and in to the light?  Better still, what are YOUR best personal qualities and what's driving YOUR career in the music industry?  Movers and shakers are curious to know!