May 06, 2005

I'm on slsk and I've just, out of curiosity, queued up an album called For Christians, Elves & Lovers by the All Saved Freak Band. This discovery baffled and excited me and frankly scared me enough to send me to Google before pulling the trigger.

One-Way Music has a page called A Decade of Jesus Music 1969-79. The site design is so horrible (frames? in 2005?) that I couldn't send you there in good conscience, but if you chance upon it in your travels, check out the small selection of All Saved Freak Band .ram song samples (to those allergic to RealPlayer, I recommend Real Alternative).

That said, here are some snippets from their ASFB bio:

A Historical Look at the All Saved Freak Band - Compiled by Ivan Lewis

The late 1960s thru the 70s were strange and exciting times to be living. At a time when the world was experiencing advances in medicine and technology, abuses in the form of street drugs and pornography became ways of life. Rock and roll became the dominant music form. Rock festivals, drug overdoses, race riots, and man walking on the moon became simultaneous headlines. And while the secular world was reeling, so did the Church. The Charismatic movement spread throughout the country and the world. Hippies became enthusiastic Christians. Much of rock and roll took on Christian lyrics. Names like David Wilkerson, Oral Roberts, and Kathryn Kuhlman made headlines from sellout crusades.

Groups of 'ex-hippies' rose up to proclaim their faith in the ways that were contemporary to that time. Teens wrote songs and performed them at churches and coffee houses to tell of their newfound faith and life in Jesus; The new genre was dubbed 'Jesus music'. These new musical artists began to produce albums for the marketplace, finding a format to be heard through Christian radio stations that emerged throughout the land ... but with the newfound expressions found in the Charismatic movement came much controversy. A renewed emphasis surfaced concerning the second coming of Christ. Caution became warning which became imminent predictions resulting in doomsday prophecies and panic. But along with these teachers came others like Cliff Custer who mixed eastern philosophies with the orthodox, delving into areas like reincarnation and transcendental meditation.

It was among these times that a group called the All Saved Freak Band came on the scene. The group epitomized everything that can start out right with good intentions, and become the focus of what can go wrong. It is my belief that no-one including Larry Hill set out to purposely control and destroy lives from the beginning. But it is a great example of what can happen when a man comes to believe that he is more than just a sinner saved by grace. Pride comes before the fall.

*** cut to: a young, idealistic Larry becoming involved with local ministries and eventually starting his own church. Larry has a series of apocalyptic visions and in spreading these prophecies, his church gradually becomes more cult-like. The church has a band (Preacher and the Witness, subsequently renamed the All Saved Freak Band); some of the musicians are legitimate dudes who played with the James Gang and had high-profile classical backgrounds and whatnot. The ASFB goes on to some success and releases some records; Larry continues to go bonkers. Right then... ***

Following tours in the mid to late 70s the band went into a state of withdrawal. Larry's authoritarianism took giant leaps to the point to where he taught that he was God's only voice of truth. Larry designated an "inner circle" to the group. This was comprised of women, both married and single, who were designated as leaders and prophetesses. All became sexual servants of Larry. The men were delegated to sleeping in the barn and he slept in the house with the women. The women were instructed to have "downcast eyes", that is looking downward while walking at all times. The men were told to not even look at a woman. Penalties were harsh. Mental and physical abuse became rampant. The men were humiliated and whipped if they questioned Hill's authority or failed to meet up to Hill's demands. The men were worked 18 to 20 hours a day and expected to survive on minimal food and sleep. Child abuse became known throughout the vacinity with welfare and social workers being called to investigate. If the men told the truth to the workers they were beaten by Hill. Amid charges by the Ashtabula County District Attorney Larry fled the state leaving his assistant pastor Dianne Sullivan to face the charges alone. She took the entire sentence on herself leaving Larry free from prosecution.

*** Hidden Vision's Pictorial History of the All Saved Freak Band has more info on what eventually happened to the band members: ***

During the eleven year history of the group the band paid a tremendous price to carry the good news. Three members of the band lost their lives in service to the Kingdom. Tom Miller, one of the Kent 25, and Randy Markko died on the way to witness at a rock festival in Bull Island, Illinois. Tom designed many of the graphics used in the Freedom Bell newspapers the band created and distributed by the 10's of thousands. He was also shown in a photograph in Life Magazine jumping in a pool of blood during the Kent State shootings.

Brett Hill, Larry's son and percussionist, was killed on the way home from a New Year's Eve concert/service in Kent. The car door opened and he fell out of the vehicle, rolling under the wheels.

Glenn Schwartz was kidnapped by a "cult deprogrammer." Eventually, Glenn was committed to a mental institution by a family embarrassed and confused by his new experience. During that period of time the band carried on with a substitute guitarist by the name of Phil Keaggy. He filled in for Glenn at Sunday afternoon services held in JB's Bar on Water Street in Kent. ASFB played there every Sunday afternoon. Drawing crowds from the street, the group used those services to launch a local church called the Kent New Generation Church. This fellowship became a " daughter church" of the Church of the Risen Christ and many of the people who lived at the CRC [Church of the Risen Christ] Farm came from this group.

Following his brother Randy's death Joe Markko was electrocuted with 27,000 volts of electricity. While he lost his hands and thus the ability to play musical instruments he continued to serve as writer, singer and arranger of much of the band's material. After leaving the band late in 1979 his oldest child was shot to death by a careless hunter and died in his arms.


At 12:54 AM, Blogger stockholm cindy said...

If they were at Kent State in 1970 that means they went to school with Devo!

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