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The Christian Rock, CCM and Jesus Rock Books You Need to Read - Part 1

Published on november 03rd, 2022 | by Anthony Martinez

Contemporary Christian music and Christian rock, revolutionized the music industry so much that they created a parallel industry and had a great impact on the Christian church itself, today it is normal to see electric instruments inside a church, and even though some brothers in the faith insist that rock is "satanic", it is no longer like 60 years ago.

    The impact of the Jesus Revolution in the late 60s and early 70s, the arrival of bands like Petra, Amy Grant, Whiteheart or Stryper in the 80s, completely changed the Christian church in musical terms, divided the music industry in two, and without realizing it, achieved a revival in the whole Christian church. Today it is common to see a guy with his electric guitar for the worship service, 50 years ago, many Christian leaders thought that this was something "satanic" and Christians should be as far away as possible from these devices and any modern music.

    It has been through contemporary Christian music that millions have heard God's call, where unconverted people have opened a Bible for the first time and decided to keep it, God's music has impacted millions around the world.

    Many Christian artists and journalists have written from their perspectives about the impact of rock and contemporary Christian music, their anecdotes and memories as protagonists of a musical field that has inspired millions of people to seek Jesus.

    This is the first part of the books you should read about Christian rock, CCM, the Jesus Movement and spirituality on music industry, the biographies of some important christian artists in history, as well as some books about the spiritual side of many rock music legends.This is not a comparative list, so they are arranged in alphabetical order of their authors' names.

So enjoy the first of books you need to have in your collection. 

 1  Bob Gersztyn - Jesus Rocks the World: The Definitive History of Contemporary Christian Music. V1

Bob Gersztyn, experienced the Jesus movement up close as a hippie convert to Christ in the late 60s, then became a photographer for bands like Love Song, 2nd Chapter of Acts, Larry Norman and many more. His long experience within the Christian industry, led him to write in 2012 "Jesus Rock The World", a passage through the history of contemporary Christian music told from his perspective and his years involved, Bob saw the industry born and grow, so this can be an interesting read for anyone who wants to know about the history of CCM and Christian rock from the Jesus movement.

 2  Chuck Girard - Rock & Roll Preacher

Chuck Girard, the leader of Love Song, released in february 2021 his book where he addresses his testimony as a hippie convert to Christ in the late 60s, soon a leader of a movement that took Jesus to the streets. It is not just a musical story, it is a story of faith, love and passion for Jesus Christ from an iconic artist of the Jesus movement.

 3  Chuck Smith Autobiography: A Memoir of Grace

He was not a musician, producer or singer, Chuck Smith was the Pastor of Calvary Chapel, he was the founder of Maranatha Music, the pastor of hundreds of young hippies who found Christ, Chuck was an important figure during the days of the Jesus movement, his love made many of these hippies start making music and playing it inside Calvary Chapel, while other churches closed their doors, Chuck Smith opened them wide. Pastor Chuck's son (of the same name as his father), tells us the story of his father as he told it, his youth, the battles of his life in ministry and how he was an important figure in a Christian revival in the late of the 60s and early 70s.

 4  Cliff Richard - The Dreamer: An Autobiography

Cliff Richard is a living legend of contemporary music, an icon of the 20th century, in 2021, at the age of 80, he released his autobiography where he tells us his incredible story since the 50s as a pioneer of rock and roll in UK. One of the most interesting facets of him in his life was his conversion to Christianity and the moment of him making songs that openly spoke of his faith.

 5  Derrick Phillips - Pilgrims Rock!

Maybe you have never heard of The Pilgrims, in CCR we have talked many times about this group since for decades it has been in oblivion by many Christian magazines and media. Basically, The Pilgrims is the first Christian rock band in history, formed in 1961 in England, in 2018 we interviewed their guitarist Derrick Phillips, who weeks later released this book where he tells us the story of the first Christian rock band in the world.

 6  Doug Van Pelt - Rock Stars On God 1: 20 Artists Speak Their Mind about Faith

Heavens Metal magazine and HM editor Doug Van Pelt released this book in 2004 where he interviews 20 mainstream rock artists where they talk about spirituality issues, some of the artists Doug interviews are Green Day and Alice Cooper, and as Doug himself says, you'll find a training ground for engaging others in conversations about Jesus.

 7  Doug Hollidge - Striking The Right Note: The Story Of The Venturers

Perhaps The Pilgrims is the first Christian rock group, but a few years before, in 1958, a group of young Christians formed a group called The Venturers, this was perhaps one of the first contemporary Christian music groups, they were not rock, it was folk, but that was too "dangerous" for many Christians, the news in England gave coverage to this very strange and "immoral" fact, and some pastors exhorted young people to be careful.  Doug Hollidge was a member of the group, in 2015, at age 75, he released this book telling the story of the group.

 8  Eric Clayton - The Collective Journals

One of the most interesting and different bands in Christian metal is Savior Machine, Christian gothic metal, oh yeah. His singer Eric Clayton published in 2017 The Collective Journals, a book where he tells us much of his life, challenges, his family, and his difficulties as leader of one of the great Christian metal bands. This book can be somewhat explicit, so it should be read by adult people.

 9  Eddie Degarmo - Rebel for God: Faith, Business, and Rock 'n' Roll

A rebel for God's, Eddie Degarmo, released his book in June 2018 where he tells us about his life experiences as a musician with one of the greatest Christian bands in history, DeGarmo & Key. But not only that, Eddie talks about his childhood, his interest in music, his influences, his challenges and how he became not only an important musician with his band, but also an important businessman in the Christian music industry as president from Capitol CMG.

 10  Gayle Wald - Shout, Sister, Shout!: The Untold Story of Rock-and-Roll Trailblazer Sister Rosetta Tharpe

Gayle Wald presents us in 2007 the untold story of Sister Rosetta Tharpe, the first guitar diva in America, the Gospel superstar who inspired a new musical genre, the first electric guitar heroine that included artists like Little Richard, Etta James, Eric Clapton, Elvis Presley, Led Zeppelin and many more. Wald's biography is one of the best documents on the Rosetta Tharpe story, based on the recollections of more than 150 people who knew and worked with her. This book is perhaps one of the most important books for the history of Rock music and all contemporary music.

 11  Glenn Kaiser - The Responsibility of the Christian Musician

If you are a Christian musician, this book is a must read. Glenn Kaiser, leader, singer and guitarist of the Resurrection Band, released "The Responsibility of the Christian Musician" in 1995, where he talks about the challenges that a Christian musician faces, prejudice, criticism, ridicule, insults and rejection that same Christians do. He also talks about keeping his marriage going while having a music career. This book is a teaching from a veteran Christian musician committed to his band, his family and his faith in God.

 12  Greg Laurie - Jesus Revolution: How God Transformed an Unlikely Generation and How He Can Do It Again Today

The renowned Pastor, Greg Laurie, is also a great writer, In 2018 he launched the book Jesus Revolution, based on one of the most extraordinary moments that revolutionized the church, music and Christianity in America, was the Jesus movement in the late 60s and early 70s, this extraordinary time is told by Pastor Greg Laurie and Ellen Vaughn in 2018, a book full of anecdotes, stories, parallels, full of nostalgia for those who lived that time, but also a great inspiration for the younger ones. This book has also been the basis for the movie of the same name to be released in February 2023.

 13  Greg Laurie - Johnny Cash: The Redemption of an American Icon

Pastor Greg Laurie, takes us in 2018 through the story and life of Johnny Cash, how he became one of the greatest entertainers of the era, his problems with drugs, alcohol and the law, and how he returned to the Christian faith.

 14  Greg Laurie - Lennon, Dylan, Alice, and Jesus: The Spiritual Biography of Rock and Roll

Once again, Pastor Greg Laurie, has impressed us with one of his most recent books, Lennon, Dylan, Alice, and Jesus, launched in May of this year (2022) which examines the excesses in the lives of rock stars from their beginnings in the 50s to recent years, while celebrating their prodigal moments. This is one of the best reads with testimonials from rock stars from different eras.

 15  Gregory Thornbury - Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Music?: Larry Norman and the Perils of Christian Rock

Whether or not you are a fan of Larry Norman, this is one of the most fascinating reads not only for the history of Christian Rock and CCM, but also an important resource on one of Rock's greatest artists. I always say for sure, Larry was not the first Christian rock artist, but he was the first to make a worldwide impact and revolutionize a new industry. In 2018, Gregory Thornbury takes us through the story of the "Father of Christian Rock", his influence beyond Christian music and his battles as an artist shunned by rockers and conservative Christians, a gripping story for any lover of rock and roll and Christian music.

 16  Jay Howard - Apostles of Rock: The Splintered World of Contemporary Christian Music

Jay Howard tells us about contemporary Christian music as a phenomenon that has brought a lot of controversy and religious conflicts that are generally misunderstood. Released in October 2021 by Jay Howard and John Streck, they address the ongoing religious understanding and debates of some Christian churches on Christian music despite its obvious positive impact on society, also taking as a reference the perspectives of musicians, producers, promoters and followers of contemporary Christian music.

 17  John Schlitt - Why

John Schlitt, the singer of Petra and formerly of Head East, tells us about his musical career and how he found Jesus, it is not a well-known book by fans of the band, it was released in November 2015. John encourages people find your purpose as a Christian. This is an important book from one of the greatest Christian rock singers in history.

 18  Larry Eskridge - God's Forever Family: The Jesus People Movement in America 

God's Forever Family is a work written by author Larry Eskridge released in June 2014, in this book he tells us about the Jesus movement as one of the most important spiritual events of the 20th century in America, and how it allowed the emergence of a Christian music industry that developed in many parts of the world. This is a brilliant work that transports us to the great years of the Jesus People movement.


The singer of the 60s band, Mind Garage, released in July 2021 this book where he tells the story of the band and how they were one of the first groups in America to mix rock with Christianity, a predecessor story to the Jesus movement that will captivate you if you are a fan of the history of rock and contemporary Christian music, if no one ever talked of Mind Garage as a pioneer group of christian rock, their singer does so in this book.

 20  Lonnnie Frisbee - Not By Might, Nor By Power: Part 1 - The Jesus Revolution

An important book to learn more about the Jesus movement in the words of one of its greatest icons, Lonnie Freesbe. Lonnie tells us about his testimony, his life on the streets, drugs and how he came to Christ to soon be a leader who inspired and led many young hippies to convert to Christ, all this while he met Pastor Chuck Smith and Calvary Chapel. You can't talk about the history of contemporary Christian music without talking about the Jesus movement, you can't talk about the Jesus movement without mentioning Lonnie, he was the personification of the Jesus revolution.

 21  Mark Joseph - Faith, God, & Rock 'N' Roll 

Mark Joseph, presents us with his 2003 boo "Faith, God, & Rock 'N' Roll". The author talks about artists who have excelled in the mainstream music industry, always keeping a spiritual message in their songs, artists like Jars of Clay, U2, Creed, Lauryn Hill, Sixpence None the Richer, Destiny's Child, Lifehouse, and P.O.D are mentioned in this work, this is an interesting book to know the impact of the Christian faith beyond the CCM industry in recent years.

 22  Marshall Terrill - The Jesus Music: A Visual Story of Redemption as Told by Those Who Lived It

This book complements the documentary of the same name which addresses the history and impact of something that began as Jesus Music in the late 60s and later became Contemporary Christian music. This is a story told by its protagonists, the book was written by historian Marshall Terrill. This book is one of the best resources to learn about the history of Christian music and how it has impacted millions of people around the world for over 50 years.

 23  Melody Green / David Hazard - No Compromise: The Life Story of Keith Green

Originally released in 1989 by his wife Melody Green, she released again in 2008 the biography of her husband Keith Green, this time updated with more stories, reflections and photographs, there is no more complete document to know Keith Green, than the book written by his wife with the support of David Hazard. Keith was one of the leading Christian artists of the 70s and died in 1982, a legend, a great artist, but above all an inspiring Christian, his story should be told for all generations.

 24  Michael Sweet - Honestly: My Life and Stryper Revealed

Stryper singer and guitarist Michael Sweet released his autobiography in May 2014. Michael tells details about his life in and out of Stryper, the difficulties in the mainstream being openly Christian, his time as a member of Boston and many anecdotes from his personal and family life, the story of Michael Sweet and Stryper in the most Honestly, an important book for any historian and lover of CCM and Christian Rock music, the importance of Michael and Stryper for the history of Christian music is indisputable.

 25  Stan Moser - We Will Stand

Stan Morse, a veteran Christian music executive who worked for labels such as Word, Myrrh, Maranatha or Star Song, and who saw the industry develop even before the term Contemporary Christian Music existed, was the person behind CCM United in 2015 which brought together many artists from the Christian industry from the 70s, 80s and 90s such as Petra, Love Song, Amy Grant, The Imperials, etc. This event was released on DVD and an Audio CD, but without a doubt the best part are the chronicles and anecdotes Stan tells throughout the book. If you are a Christian music and history buff, We Will Stand is a book you definitely must have.

 26  Steve Turner - Hungry for Heaven: Rock 'N' Roll & the Search for Redemption

In 1995, the author Steve Turner who is a well known journalist and radio host in the UK and who has had articles in magazines such as Rolling Stone or London Times, published the book "Hungry for Heaven", where from his research and interviews with artists such as Jerry Lee Lewis, Ray Charles, John Lennon, Mick Jagger, Van Morrison, and Bono, Steve argues that the best Rock and Roll is understood as a search for redemption.

 27  Steve Turner - The Gospel According to the Beatles

A title that is perhaps a bit disturbing and controversial, author Steve Turner, published in August 2006 The Gospel According to The Beatles. Turner presents interviews and information never before known about the religious and spiritual ideals of the band members, the controversial statements of John Lennon. Steve tells us how John was interested in Christianity and read the bible during his last years of life, this is a book that any historian and rock music lover should read.

 28  Steve Turner - Turn, Turn, Turn: Popular Songs Inspired by the Bible

The title of this book is based on one of the best known songs of the band The Byrds, which in turn is inspired by a chapter in the book of Ecclesiastes. Once again, Steve Turner presents us with a wonderful reading through well-known hits of the mainstream music industry that have been based on biblical passages and stories, artists like Bob Dylan stand out not only with their overtly Christian albums, but also with songs from their early years. 

 29  Ulf Christiansson - Det var värt alltihop

The leader of the Swedish band, Jerusalem, published in April 2014 his autobiographical book called "Det var värt alltihop", which translated means  "It has all been worth it ", this was released during a tour with his band. The Book is only available in the Swedish language, it has not yet been released in English for a worldwide audience, so you must have a dictionary or translator handy, or you can take Swedish classes to be able to read it.

 30  Vic Campbell - Metal Missionary: The Steve Rowe Story

Vic, a well-known journalist and broadcaster in important media in Australia, presented in December 2014 the book where he tells us the story and life testimony of the singer of the band Mortification, how God rescued him from cancer and a medical situation that was about to end his life.

    Which of these have you read? What is your favorite? Are any of these books new to you? They are certainly enriching and fascinating reading. The second part will come soon with other books that I am sure you will want to have in your collection.

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