Rev. Billy Graham

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There are those who would deny the Reverend Billy Graham any place at all in the history of commercial recordings, if only he because he has railed against rock and roll, possibly even prompting mobs…
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There are those who would deny the Reverend Billy Graham any place at all in the history of commercial recordings, if only he because he has railed against rock and roll, possibly even prompting mobs to ignite a few Beatles albums after John Lennon made fun of Jesus Christ. There would still be plenty of stuff to stockpile in used record stores even if rock and roll had never happened, however, and some of it would have the good Reverend's name and face on it. To be fair, the entertainment medium that he took the greatest advantage of was television--his specialty was the sermon and his backers seemed to feel Graham came across best when his visual image was present, especially in an actual live tent meeting.

Performers from the white gospel scene did not, as a rule, embrace the kind of vibrant rhythm and blues structures that are part of the black gospel environment. The natural route to go as a so-called "honkie" was country and western and bluegrass, but interestingly enough Graham supposedly detested the genre, an aesthetic he shares with jazz bandleader Buddy Rich if not many of fellow evangelists. For decades Graham sermons were pressed on album and cassette for radio syndication and sale to his faithful following, but it wasn't until the new millenium that lavish sets collecting old and new performances began competing for space in the Christian music record rack. The dignified voice of Graham has featured in a recording of Haydn's "Seven Last Words of Christ". A somewhat less dignified side of the man appears on a declassified White House recording of he and former President Richard Nixon running down Jews and Afro-Americans.