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Petra (band)

Petra (band)

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Petra is a music group regarded as a pioneer of the Christian rock
Christian rock
Christian rock is a form of rock music played by individuals and bands whose members are Christians and who often focus the lyrics on matters concerned with the Christian faith. The extent to which their lyrics are explicitly Christian varies between bands...

 and contemporary Christian music
Contemporary Christian music
Contemporary Christian music is a genre of modern popular music which is lyrically focused on matters concerned with the Christian faith...

 genres. Formed in 1972, the band took its name from the Greek word for "rock". Though formally disbanding in 2006, incarnations of Petra have played reunion shows in the years since and released an album in November 2010.

With a style initially similar to The Eagles and Lynyrd Skynyrd
Lynyrd Skynyrd
Lynyrd Skynyrd is an American rock band prominent in spreading Southern Rock during the 1970s.Originally formed as the "Noble Five" in Jacksonville, Florida, in 1964, the band rose to worldwide recognition on the basis of its driving live performances and signature tune, Freebird...

, Petra's sound evolved into a more energetic, driving rock sound in the early 1980s akin to Foreigner
Foreigner (band)
Foreigner is a British-American rock band, originally formed in 1976 by veteran English musicians Mick Jones and ex-King Crimson member Ian McDonald along with American vocalist Lou Gramm...

, Styx
Styx (band)
Styx is an American rock band that became famous for its albums from the late 1970s and early 1980s. The Chicago band is known for melding the style of prog-rock with the power of hard rock guitar, strong ballads, and elements of American musical theater....

 and Journey
Journey (band)
Journey is an American rock band formed in 1973 in San Francisco by former members of Santana. The band has gone through several phases; its strongest commercial success occurred between the 1978 and 1987, after which it temporarily disbanded...

. Throughout the 1980s and into the early 1990s, Petra was undoubtedly the world's most popular Christian rock band, with each of its albums during that period selling hundreds of thousands of copies while the band sold out arenas and regularly placed songs at the top of Christian radio charts. With its lyrics, music and style, Petra influenced numerous other artists at a time when Christian rock experienced strong opposition from many conservative pastors and churches.

In more than three decades, the band experienced numerous lineup changes yet released 20 studio albums
Petra Discography
This article details the discography of Petra. Petra is a music group formed in 1972, and regarded as a pioneer of the Christian rock and contemporary Christian music genres. Though formally disbanding in 2005, incarnations of Petra have played reunion shows in the years since and released an album...

, as well as three Spanish-language and two live albums, selling nearly 10 million copies while being nominated for 13 Grammy Awards, winning four, and winning 10 Dove Awards. Its biggest hit, "The Coloring Song", reached the top position on three Christian radio charts simultaneously, and at its peak, the band's tours rivaled Amy Grant
Amy Grant
Amy Lee Grant is an American singer-songwriter, musician, author, media personality and actress, best known for her Christian music. She has been referred to as "The Queen of Christian Pop"...

's in popularity among Christian audiences. Petra was the first rock band inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame
Gospel Music Hall of Fame
The Gospel Music Hall of Fame, created in 1971 by the Gospel Music Association, is a Hall of Fame dedicated exclusively to recognizing meaningful contributions by individuals and groups in all forms of gospel music.-Inductees:...

 and the first Christian band whose memorabilia was included in the Hard Rock Cafe
Hard Rock Cafe
Hard Rock Cafe is a chain of theme restaurants founded in 1971 by Americans Peter Morton & Isaac Tigrett. In 1979, the cafe began covering its walls with rock and roll memorabilia, a tradition which expanded to others in the chain. In 2006, Hard Rock was sold to the Seminole Tribe of Florida, and...

 restaurant chain.

The band announced its retirement in 2005, launching a farewell tour that was recorded for release on CD and DVD. Petra's 33-year career ended with a performance in the early hours of January 1, 2006. Band members subsequently reunited for concerts in 2007 and 2010. In November 2010, a resurrected form of the band's mid-1980s lineup, using the name Classic Petra, released a CD titled Back to the Rock
Back to the Rock
Back to the Rock is a reunion album released by Classic Petra, an instance of the Christian rock band Petra, featuring the members of the Beat the System lineup...

featuring new material and re-recordings of hits from that era. The band released a companion live CD and DVD in 2011.

Musical style


Petra's style changed significantly over the decades in an effort to remain relevant to the youth it was trying to reach but remained within the rock genre implied by its name. At its inception, the band's style was eclectic, borrowing from musical influences as diverse as The Eagles, Lynyrd Skynyrd
Lynyrd Skynyrd
Lynyrd Skynyrd is an American rock band prominent in spreading Southern Rock during the 1970s.Originally formed as the "Noble Five" in Jacksonville, Florida, in 1964, the band rose to worldwide recognition on the basis of its driving live performances and signature tune, Freebird...

 and Kansas
Kansas (band)
Kansas is an American rock band that became popular in the 1970s initially on Album-Oriented Rock charts, and later with hit singles such as "Carry On Wayward Son" and "Dust in the Wind"...

. Early albums featured electric double-guitar leads reminiscent of the Allman Brothers Band.

In the 1980s, the band began using keyboards and synthesizers to complement its guitar-based rock. Early in the decade, Petra produced a straightforward pop/rock sound reminiscent of Foreigner, while increasingly using synthesizers and techno-style effects as the decade progressed. By the late 1980s, Petra used a change in vocalists to embrace a guitar-based hard rock
Hard rock
Hard rock is a loosely defined genre of rock music which has its earliest roots in mid-1960s garage rock, blues rock and psychedelic rock...

 style similar to Def Leppard
Def Leppard
Def Leppard are an English rock band formed in 1977 in Sheffield as part of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal movement. Since 1992, the band have consisted of Joe Elliott , Rick Savage , Rick Allen , Phil Collen , and Vivian Campbell...

, Aerosmith
Aerosmith
Aerosmith is an American rock band, sometimes referred to as "The Bad Boys from Boston" and "America's Greatest Rock and Roll Band". Their style, which is rooted in blues-based hard rock, has come to also incorporate elements of pop, heavy metal, and rhythm and blues, and has inspired many...

 and Journey
Journey (band)
Journey is an American rock band formed in 1973 in San Francisco by former members of Santana. The band has gone through several phases; its strongest commercial success occurred between the 1978 and 1987, after which it temporarily disbanded...

 — a style that, along with the growing popularity of Christian rock as a whole, led to Petra's greatest success.

With the rise of alternative rock
Alternative rock
Alternative rock is a genre of rock music and a term used to describe a diverse musical movement that emerged from the independent music underground of the 1980s and became widely popular by the 1990s...

 in the mid 1990s, the band's albums subsequently featured an increasing reliance on acoustic guitars and mellower tunes, including a fully acoustic album. Petra returned to its roots with a hard rock album in 2003, while the 2010 Classic Petra reunion was billed as an effort to re-record some of the band's early 1980s hits "with a modern edge." It included two new songs that fit within the guitar- and keyboard-based rock style that marked much of the band's early career.

1972–1979: The birth of Petra



In the early 1970s, songwriter and guitarist Bob Hartman
Bob Hartman
Robert Hartman is a Christian artist, guitarist, writer and songwriter. He is the founder of Christian rock band Petra. Hartman was involved with the band from its foundation in 1972 to its end in 2005. He took a break from touring in 1995, but continued to write most of the band's songs,...

 met bassist John DeGroff
John DeGroff
John DeGroff is a Christian musician.DeGroff was one of the original members of legendary Christian rock band Petra in 1972 along with Greg Hough, Bill Glover and Bob Hartman. He played bass guitar in the band's first two records before leaving in 1979....

 and formed the band Dove, which quickly disbanded when DeGroff left to attend a Bible school in Fort Wayne, Indiana
Fort Wayne, Indiana
Fort Wayne is a city in the US state of Indiana and the county seat of Allen County. The population was 253,691 at the 2010 Census making it the 74th largest city in the United States and the second largest in Indiana...

, known as the Christian Training Center. Hartman soon followed, and in 1972 he and DeGroff joined two classmates, guitarist Greg Hough
Greg Hough
Greg Hough is a Christian musician and, with Bob Hartman, one of the founding members of the Christian rock band Petra in 1972. During the 70s, he and Hartman were the band's main songwriters and lead singers....

 and drummer Bill Glover
Bill Glover
William Glover is a Christian drummer and musician.Glover moved to Fort Wayne in the 60s when he was still a kid. When he was 13, he had taken up drumming...

, to form Petra. The band played small Midwest venues such as churches, coffeehouses and parks, to share the message of Christianity with concertgoers. A frequent venue was a Fort Wayne Christian-themed coffeehouse named The Adam's Apple.

This mix of evangelism
Evangelism
Evangelism refers to the practice of relaying information about a particular set of beliefs to others who do not hold those beliefs. The term is often used in reference to Christianity....

 with rock placed Petra among the early pioneers of Jesus Music
Jesus music
Jesus music, known as gospel beat music in the United Kingdom, is a style of Christian music which originated on the West Coast of the United States in the late 1960s and early 1970s. This musical genre developed in parallel to the Jesus movement...

, part of the larger counterculture Jesus Movement
Jesus movement
The Jesus movement was a movement in Christianity beginning on the West Coast of the United States in the late 1960s and early 1970s and spreading primarily through North America and Europe, before dying out by the early 1980s. It was the major Christian element within the hippie counterculture,...

 of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Church authorities struggled with and frequently opposed the use of churches for rock concerts, and few Christian radio stations, with the exception of some college-based signals, would play the band's songs. Petra was criticized for its rock sound, a hint of the opposition it would experience as its popularity grew.

Petra (1974)


Petra's unique blend of style and message attracted the attention of the newly created Myrrh Records
Myrrh Records
Myrrh Records, also known as Myrrh Worship, is a Christian music record label. According to Encyclopedia of American Gospel Music, the label was instrumental in developing a popular following for Contemporary Christian music as the label that first published music by Barry McGuire, 2nd Chapter of...

' Paul Craig Paino, who convinced the label's founder, Billy Ray Hearn, to attend one of the band's concerts at The Adam's Apple. Hearn signed Petra in 1973 to record its debut album, which Hearn produced. Hearn later said he knew Petra was "the most radical thing around ... as far out as anything that had come out until that time."

With no lead vocalist, Hartman and Hough shared singing duties on the self-titled debut, which was released in 1974. Featuring "tight, Allman Brothers-type dual guitar lines and riffs", Petra
Petra (album)
Petra is the first studio album by the Christian rock band of the same name. It was released in 1974.The album features a style bordering between country and southern rock somewhat similar to The Eagles or Lynyrd Skynyrd, which was the band's trademark during its first years.The band's debut is...

also featured the comical country tune "Lucas McGraw", which became something of a cult classic, and the seminal "Backslidin' Blues", the first contemporary Christian blues song put on vinyl. The rarity of being a Christian rock band led to larger concerts and greater popularity, and Myrrh asked Petra to record a second album aimed principally at non-Christians, reflecting the evangelistic nature of the band's shows.

Come and Join Us (1977)



By Hartman's admission, his vocal style did not match well with the band's genre, and Petra brought in a number of guest vocalists for the second record, among them former e vocalist Greg X. Volz
Greg X. Volz
Gregory Xavier Volz is a Christian singer. He is most noted for being the former lead singer of Christian rock band Petra from 1979 to 1985 and is currently the lead vocalist of the reunited lineup.-Biography:...

 (that band's name being a lower-case abbreviation of "Emmanuel"). Volz took the lead vocals on two songs and backed up several others. Among Volz's songs was a cover of the Argent
Argent (band)
Argent are an English rock band founded in 1969 by keyboardist Rod Argent, formerly of The Zombies.-Career:The first three demos from Argent, recorded in the autumn of 1968 featured Mac MacLeod on bass guitar though he was not meant to become a member of the group.Original members of the band were...

 anthem "God Gave Rock and Roll to You", which Myrrh had hoped to release as a radio single to the secular market. The song was immediately controversial — and revolutionary. "It was the boldest statement anyone in Christian music had made until that time", said Ambassador Artist Agency president Wes Yoder. "This was a radical notion, especially in the minds of the leaders of conservative churches."

The recording process also was marked by disputes: the label refused Hartman's request to name the album God Gave Rock and Roll to You while a bluesy, crowd-favorite track written by Hartman about rejecting the pre-Christian self, "Killing My Old Man", was deemed too controversial and cut from the album. With a harder-edged sound reminiscent of Led Zeppelin
Led Zeppelin
Led Zeppelin were an English rock band, active in the late 1960s and throughout the 1970s. Formed in 1968, they consisted of guitarist Jimmy Page, singer Robert Plant, bassist/keyboardist John Paul Jones, and drummer John Bonham...

 and Deep Purple, Come and Join Us
Come and Join Us
Come and Join Us is the second studio release of the Christian rock band Petra. It was released in 1977.The album continues with a style similar to the one of their previous album, which is something between country and southern rock. However, the music is more rock-oriented, and the lyrics show...

was released in 1977. It failed to sell well, however, and Myrrh dropped Petra from its label.

Washes Whiter Than (1979)


The next year, the band experienced the first of its numerous lineup changes, as Hough left to form his own band, and DeGroff followed suit, leaving Hartman, Glover and newly hired guitarist/keyboardist/vocalist Rob Frazier
Rob Frazier
Rob Frazier is a Christian artist, musician, songwriter, producer, worship leader, speaker, and pastor.Frazier is the son of a pastor...

. The trio began work on the band's third album despite the lack of a record deal. Glover left the band shortly after, and Hartman turned to Volz for drumming and vocal help. Already entertaining an offer from REO Speedwagon
REO Speedwagon
REO Speedwagon is an American rock band. Formed in 1967, the band grew in popularity during the 1970s and peaked in the early 1980s. Hi Infidelity is the group's most commercially successful album, selling over ten million copies and charting four Top 40 hits in the US...

 to be that band's lead singer, Volz accepted Hartman's offer instead. With a band intact, touring continuing and writing begun for a new record, Petra found itself at a crossroads: Its Christian lyrics limited the number of non-Christians attending its concerts, while its hard edge likewise limited its Christian audience.

Petra's performances soon attracted the notice of another newly formed label, Star Song Records, which inked the band for its third album. Recording began after a nine-month sabbatical during which its members considered what direction Petra should take. Upon returning, Hartman, Frazier and Volz worked with a host of studio musicians to record Washes Whiter Than
Washes Whiter Than
Washes Whiter Than is the third studio album by the Christian rock band Petra. It was released in 1979 amidst major line-up changes that saw all but one of the founding band members leave....

, a ballad-heavy soft-rock album that drew criticism from fans of the band's previous hard-edged style when it was released in 1979. Lyrically, the band shifted from overt evangelism to encouraging the young Christians who made up the bulk of its audience. The album resulted in the band's first radio hit, "Why Should the Father Bother?" Along with garnering Petra radio success for the first time, Washes Whiter Thans musical depth established the band's artistic credibility, proving Petra could play multiple styles of music and appeal to more than just the "radicals" in Christiandom.

1980–1985: The Greg X. Volz era


Though the band had scored a hit — "Why Should the Father Bother" was the 16th-biggest Christian radio single of 1979 —
Washes Whiter Than was not a big seller, thanks largely to distribution problems that left many copies of the record out of stores until demand for the product had subsided. Still in search of a breakthrough record and restricted by finances from touring nationally, Frazier left the band, leaving just Hartman and Volz, whom Hartman had hired as the full-time lead vocalist. With no record sales, no way to promote the albums nationally and barely any band, Hartman considered breaking up Petra.

Instead Hartman met Mark Kelly
Mark Kelly (bassist)
Mark Dean Kelly is a Christian bass guitarist most remembered for being a member of Christian rock band Petra during the 1980s...

, a former lead vocalist and bassist for the band One Accord, and keyboardist John Slick
John Slick
John Milo Slick was a Christian rock musician from the Christian rock band Petra. Slick is currently retired from music and works in the computer industry.-Biography:...

 at a Bible study and, after setting up a jam session, hired them to join him and Volz. Yet the two most important additions Petra made in 1980 did not play an instrument or sing a note for the band.

With Petra having established its radio bona fides and refocused its lyrical message, Star Song looked for a producer who could take the band's fourth album back to its hard rock roots, hiring Jonathan David Brown, who had successfully produced albums with radio hits by fellow Jesus Music bands Daniel Amos, Sweet Comfort Band and Parable. Additionally, Petra hired Mark Hollingsworth, who had experience in the secular music industry, to manage and promote the band.

Never Say Die (1981)



The four band members and studio drummer Keith Edwards recorded Never Say Die
Never Say Die (Petra album)
Never Say Die is the fourth studio release of the Christian rock band, Petra. It was released in 1981. "The Coloring Song" was a radio hit for the band and sales were higher for this album than the previous...

 and released it in 1981, with the first single a song originally written and performed by Volz's old band. "The Coloring Song" was Petra's big break, rocketing to the top of three Christian radio charts (rock, adult contemporary, inspirational) and reaching the top five of a fourth (southern gospel). Other songs — including the haunting "For Annie", the rocking "Chameleon" and the controversial "Killing My Old Man" — became audience favorites.

Sporting a heavier, more polished sound in the vein of Foreigner
Foreigner (band)
Foreigner is a British-American rock band, originally formed in 1976 by veteran English musicians Mick Jones and ex-King Crimson member Ian McDonald along with American vocalist Lou Gramm...

, Styx
Styx (band)
Styx is an American rock band that became famous for its albums from the late 1970s and early 1980s. The Chicago band is known for melding the style of prog-rock with the power of hard rock guitar, strong ballads, and elements of American musical theater....

 or Kansas
Kansas (band)
Kansas is an American rock band that became popular in the 1970s initially on Album-Oriented Rock charts, and later with hit singles such as "Carry On Wayward Son" and "Dust in the Wind"...

, Never Say Die became the breakthrough album for which the band and its label had hoped, receiving rave reviews. CCM Magazine
CCM Magazine
CCM Magazine was a monthly magazine published by Salem Publishing, a division of Salem Communications. It was first published in July 1978, and it has always been a Christian music magazine. On January 16, 2008, Salem announced that the April 2008 issue would be the final printed issue of the...

compared the band's new sound to Boston
Boston (band)
Boston is an American rock band from Boston, Massachusetts that achieved its most notable successes during the 1970s and 1980s. Centered on guitarist, keyboardist, songwriter, and producer Tom Scholz, the band is a staple of classic rock radio playlists...

's, praising the album's lyrical and musical content and calling
Never Say Die "by far their finest to date."

Ultimately, "The Coloring Song" became the third-hottest song on Christian radio in 1982 and the 14th-highest-ranked single of the decade on the Christian adult contemporary charts. It stayed on the radio charts an astounding 14 months, while "For Annie" reached the top five on Christian radio in 24 markets.

As important as the success on radio was the band's ability to tour nationally — the costs of which had been formidable in previous years. Unable to raise enough money for nationwide tours in support of its previous albums, Petra received another break when the band Servant
Servant (band)
Servant was a Christian rock group that grew out of the counter-culture Jesus Movement of the sixties and seventies. The band was founded in Victoria, British Columbia in 1976 by Jim Palosaari and performed to audiences throughout North America, Europe and Australia for over 12 years. Originally...

 invited it to open on its 1981–82 tour. Under Hollingsworth's tutelage, the band refined its live performances, its members dressing in camouflage to emphasize the spiritual warfare theme recalled by Never Say Die's artwork, which featured an ocean war setting with an electric guitar doubling as an aircraft carrier. The tour turned Never Say Die into a commercial hit. In December 1981, it became the first Petra album to crack the Billboard
Billboard (magazine)
Billboard is a weekly American magazine devoted to the music industry, and is one of the oldest trade magazines in the world. It maintains several internationally recognized music charts that track the most popular songs and albums in various categories on a weekly basis...

Top 40 Inspirational LPs chart, debuting at No. 27, peaking at No. 7 in April 1982, and lasting on the chart through February 1983, more than 60 weeks after its debut.

More Power to Ya (1982)


Shortly after recording
Never Say Die, Petra hired Louie Weaver, a former drummer with early Christian rock acts Randy Matthews and Fireworks. The band's touring lineup was set, and Petra went on the road for 300 days in 1982, playing 162 shows, stopping only for the five weeks it took to record the follow-up album, More Power To Ya
More Power To Ya
More Power To Ya is the fifth studio release of the Christian rock band, Petra. It was released in 1982. Many Petra fans have long considered this to be their best release from the 80s....

, that summer.

The album built on the themes introduced by its predecessor, from the artwork — again featuring electric guitars, this time doubling as
Star Wars
Star Wars
Star Wars is an American epic space opera film series created by George Lucas. The first film in the series was originally released on May 25, 1977, under the title Star Wars, by 20th Century Fox, and became a worldwide pop culture phenomenon, followed by two sequels, released at three-year...

-style spaceships — to the music, which again featured a mix of hard-driving rockers and radio-friendly ballads. The formula was becoming clear: Two radio ballads (the title track and "Road to Zion" fitting the bill this time), one Volz-penned praise tune ("Praise Ye the Lord" on Never Say Die, "Let Everything That Hath Breath" for More Power to Ya), and six or seven straight-ahead progressive rock songs written by Hartman, touching on topics aimed mostly at young Christians.

Petra also used the record to defuse the backmasking
Backmasking
Backmasking is a recording technique in which a sound or message is recorded backward on to a track that is meant to be played forward...

 controversy, which had begun to spread into Christian music, as conservative church leaders accused Christian artists of hiding subliminal messages that could only be heard when records were played in reverse. Inserting a blatant piece of backmasking in the break between the title track and hard rocker "Judas' Kiss", the band's message was less than subtle. Played in reverse, the backmasked portion stated: "What are you looking for the devil for when you oughta be looking for the Lord?" It was not the first — nor would it be the last — time Petra weighed in against critics of contemporary Christian music.

The title track became a smash radio hit, the fourth-hottest song of 1983 on Christian adult contemporary radio, and the album was hailed as Petra's best yet:


Ever since Washes Whiter Than, the "new" Petra has been working out the bugs of a polished pop-rock sound. With their latest release, More Power to Ya, say goodbye to bugs. Petra has crafted a style that could easily lock horns with anything on the industry charts and win.


The band also began receiving attention from the mainstream music industry, as
Billboard dubbed More Power to Ya a "Top Album Pick" and praised the band's "surging music, tough lyrics and effective vocals." Helped by the positive press and Star Song's recent distribution deal with Word Records, the album quickly surpassed the sales of Never Say Die, jumping to sixth on the Billboard inspirational chart within three months and trailing only albums by pop and traditional Christian artists such as Amy Grant
Amy Grant
Amy Lee Grant is an American singer-songwriter, musician, author, media personality and actress, best known for her Christian music. She has been referred to as "The Queen of Christian Pop"...

, Sandi Patti and the Imperials
The Imperials
The Imperials are an American Christian music group that has been around for over 45 years. Originating as a southern gospel quartet, the innovative group would become pioneers of contemporary Christian music in the 1960s. There have been many changes for the band in membership and musical styles...

.

A year after its release,
More Power to Ya remained one of the five best-selling albums in Christian music, while Never Say Die remained in the top 20 — more than two years after it hit the shelves. At the end of 1982, the two albums had sold nearly 100,000 units combined. By the next summer, More Power to Ya alone had topped 125,000, a total nearly unthinkable for a Christian rock album just 12 months earlier. More Power to Ya would not drop out of the Top 40 Christian albums until June 1985, more than two and one-half years after its debut.

Not of This World (1983)


Petra again hit the road for an intense tour with Servant, playing to an estimated 150,000 people in 1982, mostly in venues seating as few as 1,000 people. Petra played 152 shows in 1983, taking six weeks off that summer to record the follow-up,
Not of this World
Not of this World (album)
Not of this World is the sixth studio release of the Christian rock band, Petra. It was released in 1983. It is very similar to its predecessor , and Bob Hartman has stated that he considers it to be the musical equivalent of a sequel...

.

Stylistically, the album was similar to the band's previous two releases, filled with straight-ahead rockers and garnished with radio-friendly ballads, but for the first time, the band experimented with synthesizers, shifting forever away from the Hammond B3 organ that had been prominent in previous records. The result was something of a preview of the band's direction in future albums, as Petra would embrace the heavier guitar styles that such a sound better complemented. As if to emphasize the shift, the album opened and closed with Petra's first-ever instrumental tracks: synthesized versions of the Doxology
Doxology
A doxology is a short hymn of praises to God in various Christian worship services, often added to the end of canticles, psalms, and hymns...

.

As with the band's most recent albums, Not of This World was well received critically and commercially. By now widely recognized as the top Christian rock band in the genre's short history, the Petra formula was well in place. "Not of This World continues Petra's winning streak of great records that minister the Good News with good music", CCM Magazine wrote in praising the album. In addition, Not of This World garnered Petra its first Grammy nomination, for Best Performance By a Gospel Duo, Group, Choir or Chorus in 1985.

Though the record did not score any radio hits as big as "The Coloring Song" or "More Power to Ya", the album was massively successful in the still-new world of Christian rock: It became the No. 1 Christian album in the country in February 1984, dislodging Amy Grant's
Age to Age, which had held the top spot for more than a year. More than six months after its release, Not of This World remained in the top five, behind two albums by Grant and one by Patti. More Power to Ya, in its 86th week on the chart, was still in the top 10.

To support
Not of This World, Petra launched its biggest tour yet — 150 dates around the world with a total attendance of more than 450,000 people through the end of 1984. Headlining for the first time, Petra poured resources into creating a concert experience as dynamic as any secular rock band, using numerous lights, stage effects and costumes.

Hollingsworth, the band's manager, made Petra's mission clear:


The band is not in competition with other Christian bands. We feel we are competing with Journey
Journey (band)
Journey is an American rock band formed in 1973 in San Francisco by former members of Santana. The band has gone through several phases; its strongest commercial success occurred between the 1978 and 1987, after which it temporarily disbanded...

, Styx
Styx (band)
Styx is an American rock band that became famous for its albums from the late 1970s and early 1980s. The Chicago band is known for melding the style of prog-rock with the power of hard rock guitar, strong ballads, and elements of American musical theater....

 and REO Speedwagon
REO Speedwagon
REO Speedwagon is an American rock band. Formed in 1967, the band grew in popularity during the 1970s and peaked in the early 1980s. Hi Infidelity is the group's most commercially successful album, selling over ten million copies and charting four Top 40 hits in the US...

. We need to be aware of them, because the people who come to see Petra go to see those bands as well. We are being very naïve if we don’t keep that in mind. We need to have a light system, sound system and presentation that will be competitive with those groups.


With 1984 drawing to a close, Not of This World was deemed Christian music's fourth-best-selling album of the year, while More Power to Ya, released nearly two years earlier, was No. 5. No other rock albums were in the top 12. Petra itself, meanwhile was listed second only to Amy Grant as Billboard's Top Inspirational Artist of 1984.

Beat the System (1985)


By any measure, Petra was at the height of its success as it toured for
Not of This World and prepared to record a follow-up album. No Christian rock band had sold more records, played before bigger crowds or had enjoyed such pervasive radio airplay.

As Petra ended its tour and prepared to enter the studio, Slick left the band, and Petra again turned to Brown to produce what would ultimately be the last studio album of the Volz era. Looking for a more techno-influenced sound and down a keyboardist, Brown turned to a programmer to create keyboard, bass and drum sounds electronically, effectively sidelining Kelly and Weaver during the recording process and continuing a practice begun the previous album in which Brown sought someone other than Weaver to drum for the band inside the studio. Toward the end of recording the album, John Lawry, who had played with the band during the Not of This World tour after fulfilling his obligations to the Joe English Band, joined officially as Petra's newest keyboardist.

Beat the System
Beat the System
Beat the System is the seventh studio release of the Christian rock band, Petra. It was released in 1985.It is the first album to feature John Lawry on keyboards. He is featured prominently in it, veering the sound of the album more in the techno-rock genre of music. It is also the last studio...

was released in 1985, and it featured a dramatic departure from Petra's previous style, emphasizing keyboards, electronic drums and computerized sound effects. The techno-industrial record was a monster hit.

Helped in part by a newly inked distribution agreement between Word and A&M that would give Petra and other Word-distributed bands placement in mainstream music stores for the first time,
Beat the System sold more than 200,000 copies in four months, and by the end of the year, Billboard had certified Petra as the biggest-selling gospel music group in the country. When it debuted at No. 18 on the Billboard Top 40 Inspirational LPs chart in February 1985, Beat the System trailed both Not of This World (No. 6 in its 56th week on the chart) and More Power to Ya (No. 15 in week 115). Not for long: It leapt to No. 4 on the next chart, giving Petra two top 10 albums for the first time, and by June it had taken over the top spot on the chart, which it held for more than two months. In the end, Beat the System was one of the nation's top two Christian albums for nearly half a year.

For its career, Petra topped the million-record mark in 1985, with 900,000 of them sold in the four years since
Never Say Die. At the time of its release, Beat the System was the biggest Christian rock record ever recorded and the third-biggest Christian album of the 1980s (trailing only Amy Grant
Amy Grant
Amy Lee Grant is an American singer-songwriter, musician, author, media personality and actress, best known for her Christian music. She has been referred to as "The Queen of Christian Pop"...

's
Age to Age and Sandi Patti
Sandi Patty
Sandra Faye "Sandi" Patty is an American Christian music singer. For many years she was known as Sandi Patti. She has been dubbed "The Voice" by critics, because of her wide range and flexibility.-Early life:...

's
Songs From the Heart). By decade's end, Beat the Systems impact on the Christian sales charts trailed only records by Grant, Patti, Steve Green and Michael W. Smith
Michael W. Smith
Michael Whitaker Smith is a Billboard top ten Billboard Hot 100 recording artist and Grammy Award-winning American singer-songwriter, composer, and actor. He is one of the best-selling and most influential artists in Contemporary Christian music. Smith also has achieved a considerable amount of...

. Finally, the band was nominated for a Grammy for the second consecutive year, again for Best Gospel Performance by a Duo, Group, Choir or Chorus.

Captured in Time and Space (1986)


Joining the MTV world, Petra also recorded its first music video, for Beat the Systems title track, then went on tour again, playing what was considered "the biggest Christian rock tour of its time." Petra ultimately played to more than 500,000 people in the yearlong world tour, which ranked second in all of Christian music only to Amy Grant's. To capture the energy of the tour, the band recorded performances in Tennessee and South Carolina over three nights in November 1985 and released the final product on vinyl and VHS shortly after, dubbing it Captured in Time and Space
Captured In Time and Space
Captured in Time and Space is the eighth release of Christian rock band, Petra and their first live album. The concert was re-released on DVD in 2006....

.

The album was a farewell to Petra's first era of popularity and the sound it had cultivated with Volz's distinctive vocals. As constant touring took its toll on the band, Hartman and Volz began to disagree about Petra's future, both on stage and off. The tour, while it drew more fans than ever, was expensive, and it left Petra hurting financially. Increased competition from other Christian rock bands, for whom Petra had paved the way, led to lower-than-expected showings as the tour went on. As Hartman told CCM Magazine in 1986, "If I had to put it in a nutshell without getting too deep, I would have to say it's business. Greg and I agree on just about everything except business."

In 1985 Volz announced he would leave the band to pursue a solo career upon completion of the tour and release of the live album, leaving in doubt the future of the world's biggest Christian rock band.

1986–1994: Petra's peak



With Petra hurting financially and Volz announcing his departure, rumors swirled that Petra would break up.

Instead, Hartman turned to former Head East
Head East
Head East is an American hard rock band originally from South Central Illinois. The band was formed by vocalist John Schlitt, guitarist Mike Somerville, keyboardist Roger Boyd, bassist Dan Birney, and drummer Steve Huston. They met and formed the band while studying at the University of Illinois,...

 vocalist John Schlitt
John Schlitt
John William Schlitt is known for his career as the lead singer of Christian rock band Petra from 1986 until the band's retirement in late 2005. Prior to joining Petra in 1986, Schlitt was the vocalist for Head East....

, whom he had met on an airplane some years before but who had since converted to Christianity and left rock music altogether. Schlitt needed little convincing. He was introduced to Petra fans at a show in Australia in February 1986.

With Petra seeking a new musical direction to support the style of its new vocalist — and expressing unhappiness with the sound Brown produced for Captured in Time and Space — band and producer parted ways. To replace Brown, Star Song tapped the Elefante brothers — John, former keyboardist and lead vocalist for Kansas
Kansas (band)
Kansas is an American rock band that became popular in the 1970s initially on Album-Oriented Rock charts, and later with hit singles such as "Carry On Wayward Son" and "Dust in the Wind"...

, and Dino, who had written songs for Kansas and had more recently produced albums for Christian metal bands such as Barren Cross
Barren Cross
Barren Cross is a Christian metal band that was formed in Los Angeles, California in 1983 by highschool friends Ray Parris and Steve Whitaker . The band released six albums from 1986 to 1994...

. The combination of Schlitt and the Elefante Brothers significantly altered Petra's sound and set the stage for the band's greatest success.

Back to the Street (1986)


After a brief introductory tour overseas with Schlitt singing the Volz classics, Petra entered the studio to record the singer's first album with the band.

To a man, Petra's members said they found the Elefantes easier to work with, and for the first time since
More Power to Ya, the entire band performed on the same record without studio fill-ins. Likewise, the Elefantes' hard rock roots led to re-emphasizing Hartman's guitars as the preeminent instrument in the band's sound. Looking to shatter the "Petra formula", the band intentionally avoided what Hartman called "a stock radio ballad." While acknowledging that the abrupt change in style likely cost the band some fans, Hartman hailed Back to the Street
Back to the Street
Back to the Street is the ninth release of the Christian rock band, Petra. It was released in 1986 and is the first album to be produced by John and Dino Elefante....

 as "the truest representation of this band's talent."

The result was a transitional album that neither reflected where Petra had been, nor the band would be for the next decade. As a result sales lagged, though the one ballad on the album, "Thankful Heart", achieved radio success, ranking No. 9 on the annual airplay chart. The album received positive reviews though not quite gushing, as evidenced by CCM Magazines half-hearted praise: "With Back to the Street, Petra rocks, and they do it pretty well." Nevertheless, the album was Petra's third straight studio offering to be nominated for a Grammy, and for the first time, the Gospel Music Association recognized Petra's success with three Dove Award nominations: artist of the year, band of the year and contemporary album of the year.

This Means War! (1987)


Finishing their Back to the Street tour in December 1986, Petra entered the studio the next month to begin writing and recording the band's follow-up. In the three weeks between, Hartman wrote seven songs — the foundation of what would become This Means War!
This Means War!
This Means War! is the tenth release of the Christian rock band, Petra. It was released in 1987.In this album, the band started to refine their movement into a more hard rock/arena rock sound, still retaining keyboard synthesizers to back the driving guitar work...

, an album that musically saw the band continue to transition away from the keyboard-influenced, highly polished rock sound it had perfected earlier in the decade and toward an arena-rock sound heavy on guitars and emphasizing Schlitt's soaring vocals.

Lyrically, This Means War!
This Means War!
This Means War! is the tenth release of the Christian rock band, Petra. It was released in 1987.In this album, the band started to refine their movement into a more hard rock/arena rock sound, still retaining keyboard synthesizers to back the driving guitar work...

took the implicit spiritual warfare theme that had been present in Petra's albums and tours since Never Say Die and emphasized it further. Although the album ended for good the band's longstanding tradition of featuring electric guitars as warcraft, its picture of a warrior on his knees complemented songs with titles such as "Get On Your Knees and Fight Like a Man", "All the King's Horses" and the title track, a rousing rocker backed by a marching drumbeat that addressed Satan as the preordained loser of the war he had declared against Christ and his followers.
The message seemed in part a response to the attacks lobbed against the band by preachers and televangelists, especially Jimmy Swaggart
Jimmy Swaggart
Jimmy Lee Swaggart is a Pentecostal American pastor, teacher, musician, television host, and televangelist. He has preached to crowds around the world through his weekly telecast...

, who denounced rock music in general — and Petra in particular — as tools of the devil. It wasn't the first time Petra had musically addressed its Christian critics, doing so most explicitly in "Witch Hunt" on Beat the System, but the attacks clearly affected the band. "Not only does it deny the kids the opportunity and encouragement to go to the concert, but it hurts terribly our ministry", Hartman told CCM. "We experience a lot more skepticism. He says that there's all this decadence in Christian music, and that we're all in it for the money."

The result was "the most conceptual album Petra's ever done" and another hit. Within five weeks of its release, the album hit No. 1 on CCM Magazine's sales chart, where it joined the title track and "Don't Let Your Heart Be Hardened" at the top of their respective charts. This Mean War's initial sales drew comparisons to Amy Grant's Age to Age
Age to Age
Age to Age is the sixth album by Christian music singer Amy Grant, released in 1982 on Myrrh Records.Age to Age was Amy Grant's breakthrough album, finally earning her serious recognition within the burgeoning Contemporary Christian music community as it ushered her into stardom, and also...

as consumers snapped it off the shelves (though it ultimately fell short of that album's lofty marks). It also garnered the band its fourth consecutive Grammy nomination.

On Fire! (1988)



As Petra's popularity built still further, the band cashed in by sponsoring children through Compassion International and advocating for a Constitutional amendment allowing prayer in public schools
School prayer
School prayer in its common usage refers to state-approved prayer by students in state schools. Depending on the country and the type of school, organized prayer may be required, permitted, or prohibited...

. Applying the spiritual warfare theme explored in This Means War!, Petra formed "Prayer Warrior" groups across the country — bands of youth groups to pray for each other. The focus on shepherding Christian youth through a spiritual battle zone continued on the band's next album, On Fire!
On Fire!
On Fire! is the eleventh studio release of the Christian rock band, Petra.The songs of this album are in the Hard rock category. The lyrics continue the theme of spiritual warfare featured in their previous efforts, with metaphors making reference to military subtexts...



With a cover featuring a flaming sword breaking through a pane of glass, On Fire! was Petra's heaviest album yet, the culmination of the transition begun with Back to the Street. A fully hard rock album, bordering in places on metal, On Fire! made the most of songs such as "All Fired Up," "Hit You Where You Live" and "Mine Field" — all of which continued the spiritual warfare theme. CCM Magazine, in praising the album, called On Fire! "the crunchiest Petra sound yet" and praised the first two tracks as "the most exciting eight minutes of rock Petra has ever put to tape." Once again, the band scored hits with its initial singles, as "First Love," the radio ballad, and "Mine Field," the rocker, hit No. 1 on three of Music Line Magazine's four Christian radio charts. "First Love" finished 1988 as the year's 10th-most-played radio single.
With the album, Petra released a long-form film, tying a series of short-form music videos together with ministry segments. The film garnered the band its first Dove award, for Long Form Music Video of the Year in 1990, and its fifth consecutive Grammy nomination for its studio offerings.

The tour, meanwhile, reflected the band's increasing name recognition, with more than 100 shows and a stage set that included a 30 feet (9.1 m) steel and aluminum sword modeled after the On Fire! album cover. Touring with popular evangelist Josh McDowell
Josh McDowell
Joslin "Josh" McDowell is a Christian apologist, evangelist, and writer. He is within the Evangelical tradition of Protestant Christianity, and is the author or co-author of some 77 books. His best-known book is Evidence That Demands a Verdict, which was ranked 13th in Christianity Today's list of...

, Petra played to audiences of more than 8,000 each night.

On Fire! featured the first lineup change since Schlitt joined the band, as bassist Mark Kelly was replaced by Ronny Cates
Ronny Cates
Ronny Cates is a Christian musician, producer, and songwriter. He is most remembered for being the bassist of legendary Christian rock band Petra during their most prolific years....

, ushering in the most stable lineup in Petra's history: Hartman on guitars, Schlitt on vocals, Lawry on keyboards, Weaver on drums and Cates on bass.

Petra Praise: The Rock Cries Out (1989)


Touring with the popular McDowell bought Petra credibility with youth leaders and church pastors, who were impressed by the speaker's forceful defense of Christian rock music. Seeking to build on that growing influence, Hartman and Schlitt turned to youth ministers directly at a conference in California, asking them how Petra could better aid their ministries. The response: Produce some music that could be better replicated in a church setting. "So we thought, 'What if we do a CD with worship songs that we think are cool, but do it Petra style and then provide an accompaniment track for the youth groups?, Schlitt said.

The result was the first-ever contemporary praise-and-worship album in Christian music, with praise staples such as "Take Me In", "The Battle Belongs to the Lord", and "King of Kings" done in Petra's hard-rock style, together with two new rockers in the same lyrical vein. The band's new label, Word Records, billed it "a praise and worship record unlike any ever seen." Inside Music magazine agreed, calling Petra Praise "truly different." In one interview, Schlitt acknowledged the band was "going out on a limb."

The limb held, as Petra Praise: The Rock Cries Out
Petra Praise: The Rock Cries Out
Petra Praise: The Rock Cries Out is the twelfth release of the Christian rock band, Petra and their first praise album. It was released on October 3, 1989....

became one of the band's best selling, certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America
Recording Industry Association of America
The Recording Industry Association of America is a trade organization that represents the recording industry distributors in the United States...

 in 1998. After its release in October 1989, Petra Praise remained in the top 10 of Christian contemporary album sales for nearly a year. The artwork also won a Dove award, the band's second. In subsequent years, the album would be cited by such popular praise bands as Sonicflood
Sonicflood
Sonicflood is an American Christian Worship band from Nashville, Tennessee. Originally under the name Zilch, the band formed in 1997. The group took the name Sonicflood in 1998 as they became known as a praise and worship band following some line-up changes...

 as influencing their decision to enter the genre.

Beyond Belief (1990)


The success of Petra Praise opened the door for even greater success than Petra had seen previously. The Christian rock scene had exploded, and the critics of the past decade had largely been silenced. The band went back to the studio to record a hard-hitting album that would be accompanied by a concept movie, in which the characters interact with the band between six music videos.

Lyrically, the album focused on the concept of faith implied by the album's title, Beyond Belief, with radio singles entitled "Creed," "Love" and "Prayer," as well as the title track and "I Am on the Rock." Musically, the band embraced a hard rock sound reminiscent of Def Leppard, as described by CCM Magazine: "Petra has certainly moved more and more toward a big, arena rock sound in the past few years (the most obvious fruit of their association with the Elefantes), and Beyond Belief is, if not completely Kansas-inspired, certainly on par with some of the best arena rock music around."

Beyond Belief was huge, the band's most successful release ever, peaking at No. 1 on the Christian charts and certified Gold by the RIAA in 1995. The radio single "Love" shot to the top of the charts and stayed there, becoming Christian radio's biggest hit of 1991.

It won the band its first Grammy, in the newly created best Rock/Contemporary Gospel Album category, as well as Dove awards for Rock Album of the Year, Rock Recorded Song of the Year for the title track and Recorded Music Packaging of the Year. More historically, the Gospel Music Association for the first time honored a rock band as Group of the Year, as Petra beat contemporary artists 4HIM
4Him
4Him was a Contemporary Christian group founded in 1990 in Alabama, USA. The group has a Grammy nomination, seven Dove awards and an album certified gold to their credit. The group was inducted into Alabama's Music Hall of Fame, following the awarding of The Governor’s Achievement Award...

, First Call
First Call
First Call is a Contemporary Christian music group, originally consisting of Mel Tunney, Marty McCall, and Bonnie Keen. Mel's husband, Dick Tunney, acted as the arranger and producer for many of the group's early projects.-Group history:...

, Take 6
Take 6
Take 6 is an American a cappella gospel music sextet formed in 1980 on the campus of Oakwood College in Huntsville, Alabama. The group sings in a contemporary style, integrating R&B and jazz influences into their devotional songs and has 10 Grammy wins, 10 Dove Awards, one Soul Train Award and two...

 and BeBe & CeCe Winans
BeBe & CeCe Winans
BeBe & CeCe Winans are an American Gospel music brother and sister duo. BeBe and CeCe Winans are the seventh and eighth of "Mom" and "Pop" Winans' ten children, most of whom have had successful Gospel music careers.-Musical career:...

.

The band was at the peak of its popularity, playing to sold-out arenas of 10,000 fans on yet another nationwide tour, and in CCM Magazines year-end Reader's Choice Awards, the band swept to first place in eight categories, second place in four more, and garnered three times as many votes for pop/rock artist of the year as second-place finisher Michael W. Smith
Michael W. Smith
Michael Whitaker Smith is a Billboard top ten Billboard Hot 100 recording artist and Grammy Award-winning American singer-songwriter, composer, and actor. He is one of the best-selling and most influential artists in Contemporary Christian music. Smith also has achieved a considerable amount of...

.

Unseen Power (1991)


At the height of its career, the members of Petra were wary of repeating the arena-rock formula that had served the band so well since the mid 1980s. Seeking a way to change directions musically, the band and its producers for their next album hired an outside engineer for the first time, bringing in Neil Kernon, who had previously worked with Kansas, Elton John
Elton John
Sir Elton Hercules John, CBE, Hon DMus is an English rock singer-songwriter, composer, pianist and occasional actor...

 and Peter Gabriel
Peter Gabriel
Peter Brian Gabriel is an English singer, musician, and songwriter who rose to fame as the lead vocalist and flautist of the progressive rock group Genesis. After leaving Genesis, Gabriel went on to a successful solo career...

. Along with its usual hard rock fare, the band added tracks that featured a gospel choir and a bluesy sound, and Kernon's influence led to an album with a stronger emphasis on the band's rhythm section.

Hartman also shifted his songwriting style, moving away from his practice of constructing albums around loose themes and writing tracks more personal in nature. The result was Unseen Power
Unseen Power
Unseen Power is the fourteenth release of the Christian rock band, Petra. It was released in November 1991.The album retains a driving edge while veering away from the more commercial pop-metal sound of their previous efforts...

, a Petra album that, for the first time, was distributed by a secular record company, Epic. That, and the immensely favorable reaction to its release, led to talk of Petra following in the wake of Grant and Smith as a potential crossover hit, popular in both Christian and secular circles. "If it happens, then yes, we're ready," Schlitt said of the possibility.

Though the secular breakthrough never came, the album was a hit, allowing Petra to top 6 million records sold since its inception – the most of any Christian artist at the time. The newly formed Hard Rock Cafe
Hard Rock Cafe
Hard Rock Cafe is a chain of theme restaurants founded in 1971 by Americans Peter Morton & Isaac Tigrett. In 1979, the cafe began covering its walls with rock and roll memorabilia, a tradition which expanded to others in the chain. In 2006, Hard Rock was sold to the Seminole Tribe of Florida, and...

 asked the band for materials to include in its restaurant displays, another first for a Christian band. And Petra became the only Christian band to play Farm Aid
Farm Aid
Farm Aid started as a benefit concert on September 22, 1985, in Champaign, Illinois, held to raise money for family farmers in the United States...

 when it took the Texas Stadium stage before 40,000 people in 1992. Unseen Power opened No. 1 on Billboard's Christian music charts in November 1991 and stayed in the top 10 for seven months. Radio single "Hand On My Heart" was among the top 20 songs on Christian AC radio in 1992, and it was one of five tracks from the album to hit No. 1 on the Christian radio charts.

Unseen Power garnered the band its second Grammy, again winning for Best Rock/Contemporary Gospel Album, and a Dove award, for Rock Recorded Song of the Year.

Wake Up Call (1993)


Taking what for its members was an unusual yearlong break between touring and recording the band's followup to
Unseen Power, Petra emerged to a changing musical landscape requiring adjustment from the 20-year-old band. "I think we're on the verge of a new era for Petra," Hartman said shortly after the release of 1993's Wake Up Call. "I'm not sure what that will be – but it won't be disco."

As the broader musical climate soured on the arena-rock style that had been Petra's musical core, the band continued to revamp its style, breaking with the Elefante brothers for the first time in six records. Instead, Brown Bannister
Brown Bannister
Brown Bannister is a CCM producer and songwriter. Bannister released one album of his own, Talk to One Another, in 1981 on NewPax Records. It was reissued on the Reunion Records Label five years later, featuring a newer recording of the album's final cut, "Create In Me A Clean Heart"...

, who at the time had won eight Grammy awards as a producer and songwriter, mostly for Amy Grant, was brought in. The reason for the change was purely practical: the band, now consisting largely of middle-aged fathers living in Nashville, did not want to travel to California, where the Elefantes were based, to record an album. Also seeking a new musical direction, the band sought out Bannister after enjoying his work for White Heart
White Heart
White Heart, also listed as Whiteheart, was a Contemporary Christian Music pop-rock band which formed in 1982. White Heart's discography includes thirteen albums, the most recent of which was released in 1997. Original members Billy Smiley and Mark Gersmehl worked with a continually-changing cast...

 earlier in the decade.

Wake Up Call as a result was the band's first significant shift from the style of the 1980s, featuring fewer driving rock tracks and favoring instead midtempo songs and ballads. Bannister's production style, favoring authenticity over the Elefantes' slick production styles, led to a rawer feel for the album. Hartman called it "probably the most indicative of who Petra really is."

The change was well received, as the album stayed on Billboard's Christian albums chart for more than five months and was the third consecutive Petra album to receive a Grammy for Best Rock Gospel Album. The short-lived America's Christian Music Awards named Petra favorite rock group or duo and named Wake Up Call favorite rock CD, and the band won a Dove award for Rock Album of the Year. In the 1994 CCM Readers Awards, the band continued to clean up, winning Favorite Rock Artist/Band, Favorite Rock Album for Wake Up Call and Favorite Song for the radio hit "Just Reach Out."

More change was in the offing, however. As the band concluded its world tour for
Wake Up Call in 1994 and began looking to re-enter the studio, Hartman, the lone remaining founding member, decided to retire from touring. An era had ended.

1995–2002: The post-Hartman era


Once again, rumors swirled about the band's imminent demise. Lawry, who had been Petra's keyboardist for more than a decade, left the band, and Hartman, citing a desire to be closer to his family and focus on songwriting, retired from touring. Meanwhile, Schlitt had just released a solo album. The band rejected the rumors, however; Hartman said he would continue writing and doing studio work with the band, and he turned over nearly all of Petra's administrative duties to Schlitt.

Schlitt brought in Jim Cooper
Jim Cooper (musician)
Jim Cooper is a Christian musician, songwriter, and producer.Cooper studied at Temple Christian Academy in his hometown. Jim Cooper got his feet wet with Jody Davis with the band Phos Also in the Band was a lead singer by the name of Gary...

 to replace Lawry and David Lichens
David Lichens
David Lichens is an American guitarist, singer and songwriter.In 1995 he joined legendary Christian rock band Petra which exposed him to lots of worldwide touring and studio experience....

 (LITCH-ens) to replace Hartman on tour. Weaver was now the only band member with a connection to the Volz era of Petra – and he was hired when Petra was 10 years old. It was the first wholesale lineup change since 1980, but it was far from the last.

No Doubt (1995)


The new lineup set to recording
No Doubt
No Doubt (Petra album)
No Doubt is the sixteenth release of the Christian rock band, Petra. It was released on August 26, 1995.The tone of the album is more pop-oriented than any previous release featuring Schlitt...

, a concerted effort to reach a younger audience no longer interested in the driving hard rock that had made the band the biggest in Christian music. Back to using producers John and Dino Elefante, Schlitt called the album "the best record we've ever done." The critics disagreed, citing in particular the electronic, scaled-back nature of the drums, which sapped the life out of the disc's rockers, and the prevalence of "fair to middlin'" tracks that failed to "break any new ground."

The album opened at No. 2 on Billboard's Top Christian Albums chart but fell out of the Top 10 two months later. It peaked at No. 91 on the Billboard Top 200, lasting eight weeks, and Schlitt acknowledged sales had dropped from the band's previous chart-toppers. Its key radio single, the title track, barely cracked the 40 most-played songs for 1995. For the first time since the creation of the Rock Gospel Album category in the Grammies, Petra was nominated but failed to win, though it did pick up a Dove award for Rock Album of the Year, and CCM Magazines annual Reader Awards placed Petra once again at the top as the fans' favorite rock band, with No Doubt their favorite rock album.

The lackluster sales and tepid reviews, combined with the lineup changes, painted a picture of a band in decline. The quick departure of Cooper and Lichens, joined by longtime bassist Cates, did not help. Schlitt said Cates cited fatigue with the touring lifestyle, but that he fired Lichens and Cooper over differences about the band's musical direction and unhappiness with the possibility of recording a second praise album. Lonnie Chapin
Lonnie Chapin
Lonnie James Chapin was formerly the bass guitarist of Christian rock band Tait. His younger brother, Chad, is the current drummer of the band. His hometown is Bend, Oregon. He was also the bassist for the legendary Christian rock band Petra from 1997 to 2001 before joining Tait.-Lonnie with...

 replaced Cates on bass, while two members of Schlitt's solo band, Kevin Brandow
Kevin Brandow
Kevin Brandow is a Christian musician and songwriter.Brandow grew up in East Greenbush, New York. He went to Saint Rose College in Albany, New York, where he studied music theory...

 (guitar and keyboards) and Pete Orta
Pete Orta
Pete Orta Pete Orta Pete Orta (born August 26, 1971 in Port Lavaca, Texas is a Christian rock singer, guitarist, and songwriter and music producer. He was a member of Christian rock band Petra from 1996 to 2000....

 (guitars), filled the remaining slots.

Petra Praise 2: We Need Jesus (1997)


Despite the turmoil, Petra prepared in 1997 to release its 16th studio album, a sequel to its wildly successful Petra Praise album eight years earlier. The band had noticeably slipped from the heights it had occupied early in the decade. "Things kind of tapered off for a while," Hartman said of the post-Wake Up Call Petra. "I think there's a really good chance Petra could be back on the upswing."

Petra Praise 2: We Need Jesus
Petra Praise 2: We Need Jesus
Petra Praise 2: We Need Jesus is the seventeenth studio release of the Christian rock band Petra and their second praise album. It was released on February 18, 1997....

featured few truly hard rock songs, as evidenced when it was nominated for a Grammy in the Best Pop/Contemporary Gospel Album category. Instead, it placed heavy emphasis on acoustic guitars, mandolins, keyboards and other, more experimental styles. The title track, the album's big radio single, featured guest vocals from Foreigner's Lou Gramm
Lou Gramm
Lou Gramm is an American rock vocalist and songwriter best known for his role as the lead vocalist and co-writer of many of the songs for the rock band Foreigner. He also had a successful solo career...

, and though Petra Praise 2 reached No. 1 on the Christian albums chart, overall sales flagged, as the album barely reached the Billboard 200, peaking at No. 155. One secular critic dismissed the disc as "religious muzak" and labeled Petra "the Barry Manilow of Christian rock." We Need Jesus eventually won a Dove award for Praise and Worship Album.

The failure of the album to rejuvenate the band's career seemed apparent by September 1997, when Schlitt was asked about the band's success:


I would say from my gut that we are probably as low as we're going to go in that valley, and heading for the next peak. That's fine with me because everybody needs a turn. We've been at the top of the mountain twice already, and, if nothing else, we need to get out of the way and let other bands have some fun. I mean, now there's variety that Christian kids can have. And they don't just grab Petra. Now they can grab Jars of Clay
Jars of Clay
Jars of Clay is a Christian rock band from Nashville, Tennessee. They met at Greenville College in Greenville, Illinois.Jars of Clay consists of Dan Haseltine on vocals, Charlie Lowell on piano and keyboards, Stephen Mason on lead guitars and Matthew Odmark on rhythm guitars...

, dc Talk
Dc Talk
DC Talk , is a Grammy-winning Christian rock music trio. The group was formed in Lynchburg, Virginia in 1987 by Toby McKeehan, Michael Tait, and Kevin Max Smith. They have released five major studio albums together: DC Talk , Nu Thang , Free at Last , Jesus Freak , and Supernatural...

 or Newsboys
Newsboys
Newsboys are a Christian pop rock band founded in 1985 in Mooloolaba, Australia. They have released 15 studio albums, six of which have been certified gold...

.

God Fixation (1998)


With Orta, Chapin and Brandow established in the band, they joined with Schlitt and Weaver to produce the incarnation's first full-fledged Petra album, God Fixation
God Fixation
God Fixation is the eighteenth release of the Christian rock band, Petra. It was released on April 21, 1998.The album features 3 new members: guitarist Pete Orta guitarist/keyboardist Kevin Brandow and bassist Lonnie Chapin...

. The three new members were given broad reign to influence the music as they wrote songs with Hartman, leading to a drastic change toward a mellower rock sound.

Though the album was praised by critics as "fresher and more immediate than [Petra] has been in a long time," hailed for "strong" music and songwriting and nominated for a Grammy, fans clearly rejected the album's alt-rock, mid-tempo feel. The album failed to reach any higher than 10th on the Billboard Christian albums chart and missed the Billboard 200 altogether.

Faced with criticism that the band had strayed too far from its hard-rock roots and did not "sound like Petra anymore," Schlitt responded: "Petra wasn't selling worth a stink. Petra was going down the drain, and I don't want to go down the drain yet."

Double Take (2000)


The band's contract with Word Records was stumbling to an end. To complete the six-disc deal, the band re-recorded a set of its biggest hits in an acoustic format, including two new songs. The album, called Double Take
Double Take (Petra album)
Double Take is the Grammy Award winning, nineteenth release of the Christian rock band, Petra. It was released on February 29, 2000.The album features 10 new acoustic rearrangements of classic Petra songs. It also features two new songs . The song "Breathe In" is sung by guitarist Pete Orta...

was all but ignored by both Word and the Christian music industry and met with antipathy by the band's fans, who rejected the reimagining of some of Petra's most loved songs. Though it garnered some positive reviews — HM Magazine for one said "these stripped-down rockers sound pretty good" — the album was largely rejected by critics and fans alike, and it sold fewer than 40,000 copies. When Double Take won Petra its fourth Grammy, for Best Rock Gospel Album in 2001, critics charged it was an example of the Grammy voters being "out to lunch."

After six albums that spanned Petra's highest peak and ended with the band in its lowest valley to date, the band and its label parted ways. "Their interests were starting to go in other directions, so it was time for us to leave and find a label that's interested in rebuilding the fact that we still exist," Schlitt said.

With the band's future again uncertain, Petra received the highest of accolades from the Gospel Music Association as the first rock band to be inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame
Gospel Music Hall of Fame
The Gospel Music Hall of Fame, created in 1971 by the Gospel Music Association, is a Hall of Fame dedicated exclusively to recognizing meaningful contributions by individuals and groups in all forms of gospel music.-Inductees:...

. Soon after, however, as Petra continued to search for a new label home, the band experienced another massive upheaval. as Chapin and Orta left the band, as did Trent Thomason
Trent Thomason
Trent Thomason is a Christian keyboardist, vocalist and songwriter.Thomason grew up in Long Beach, California and graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School, going on to attend Chapman University where he received his Bachelor of Music in Music Therapy degree in 1999...

, whose tenure with the band lasted for a few months. Once again, only Schlitt and Weaver were left as the faces of Petra.

Revival (2001)



After a lengthy label search, Petra was signed by Inpop Records, then just two years old and founded by Newsboys lead singer Peter Furler, an admirer of the band. Inpop assigned former Sonicflood
Sonicflood
Sonicflood is an American Christian Worship band from Nashville, Tennessee. Originally under the name Zilch, the band formed in 1997. The group took the name Sonicflood in 1998 as they became known as a praise and worship band following some line-up changes...

 members Dwayne Larring and Jason Halbert to produce a third praise-and-worship album, to be called Revival
Revival (Petra album)
Revival is the 21st studio release of the Christian rock band Petra and their third praise album. It was released on November 20, 2001.-Album background:...

— a none-too-subtle reference to the label's hopes for Petra's career. Additionally, the label focused its packaging solely on the band's three most famous members, convincing Hartman, who still wasn't touring but had never stopped writing and playing guitar in the studio, to join Schlitt and Weaver as the label-marketed version of Petra. Studio musicians, including bassist Rick Cua
Rick Cua
Rick Cua is an American Dove Award and Grammy Award-winning Christian rock singer, songwriter, bassist, author, and ordained minister...

, filled in the rest.

The result was a well-received album, helped in part by an Inpop gimmick that comprised sending radio executives and media representatives an unlabeled CD of the album and asking them to guess — many doing so futilely — what band had recorded it. CCM Magazine described the album as a "cage match pitting Aerosmith against Third Day
Third Day
Third Day is a Grammy award-winning Christian rock band formed in Marietta, Georgia during the 1990s. The band was founded by lead singer Mac Powell, guitarist Mark Lee and former member Billy Wilkins. The other band members are bassist Tai Anderson and drummer David Carr...

," and several reviewers praised the band's modern-rock rendition of the classic hymn "Amazing Grace
Amazing Grace
"Amazing Grace" is a Christian hymn with words written by the English poet and clergyman John Newton , published in 1779. With a message that forgiveness and redemption are possible regardless of the sins people commit and that the soul can be delivered from despair through the mercy of God,...

." Nevertheless, the band struggled to gain airplay for its singles, and the album failed to crack even the Billboard Christian albums chart.

Petra hired three new members for the subsequent tour: Bryce Bell
Bryce Bell
* For the passenger of Air Canada Flight 143, see Gimli Glider----Bryce Bell is a Christian musician.Bell got into music from an early age. He began taking piano lessons when he was in the second grade. Throughout his school years he was very involved in music...

 on keyboards, Quinton Gibson
Quinton Gibson
Quinton Gibson is a guitarist and a studio engineer/producer.Quinton studied at Bosse High School in Evansville and graduated 1986...

 on guitars and Greg Bailey
Greg Bailey
Greg Bailey was bassist in the Christian Rock band Petra since joining in late 2001. Before that, he played with several rock bands, including Stir and others.Bailey's first Petra show was in a Pethead Convention held at Wichita, Kansas on January 26, 2002...

 on bass. His inclusion on the album artwork notwithstanding, Hartman maintained his retirement from touring.

2003–2006: The end


As it entered the studio for its 20th album, Petra continued to find stability elusive, as Bell and Gibson left to pursue other endeavors. Then, in a shocking announcement, the band announced drummer Louie Weaver, the longest-tenured member of Petra other than Hartman himself, had "come to an impasse" with the rest of the band and "will not be forming with us any longer." Weaver in his own statement said the band had fired him, and that he was "shocked" and "surprised" by the decision. Hartman later said the decision had been made by Schlitt, in consultation with his pastor and Hartman; neither side gave a reason for the dismissal.

Jekyll and Hyde (2003)


For the band's 20th studio album, Jekyll and Hyde
Jekyll and Hyde (album)
Jekyll & Hyde is the twenty-second studio album released by Christian rock band Petra. It was released in 2003 by Inpop Records. It is the last studio album released by Petra...

Furler handled production duties himself. With Weaver's departure, Furler played drums, while Gibson's departure meant Hartman would be Petra's full-time guitarist for the first time since 1994. Wade Jaynes, a studio bassist, also was tabbed to perform in place of Bailey, at Furler's request. Furler in particular pushed Hartman to write heavier, riff-based songs along the lines of the title track, which Hartman had written before the decision to record Revival instead of a traditional album with original material.

The result was an exceptionally heavy album filled with crunchy riffs, modernized by removing the trademark keyboards and guitar solos from Petra's sound. In an Inpop-produced statement, Schlitt called the album "our most aggressive rock record so far." Critics and fans alike greeted the album with acclamation, hailing it as the band's "best album in years" and "one of this year's biggest musical surprises," "a powerful rock effort ... bordering on metal." For the first time since Petra Praise 2, six years earlier, the band broke onto the Billboard charts, peaking at No. 22 on the Christian albums chart. The album also garnered Petra its 13th Grammy nomination.

With no keyboardist necessary on tour, a first for the band since its earliest days, and Hartman returning to the stage, the band needed only to replace Weaver, hiring Paul Simmons
Paul Simmons
Paul Simmons is an American drummer. Currently, he is the drummer for the Reverend Horton HeatHe is previously most well known as the drummer for Th' Legendary Shack Shakers from 2003 to 2005. He was also the drummer in Christian rock band Petra from 2003 until their retirement in 2005...

 shortly after the album's release. Petra then prepared a worldwide tour beginning in 2004, including a June show in Indiana that featured a reunion of original members Hartman, Hough and DeGroff in the middle of the contemporary band's set. Simmons filled in for original drummer Glover, who was invited but could not attend. Shows in India near the end of the year featured crowds as large as 20,000.

Farewell (2005)


Despite rumors that Petra was working on another studio album, John Schlitt announced in May 2005 that he and Hartman had agreed to disband Petra at the end of the year, following a short farewell tour.

As a final sendoff, Petra recorded its show in Franklin, Tenn., on Oct. 4, which included special appearances by Volz and Lawry, each performing on a handful of songs from his tenure with the band. The performance was released on CD in November and DVD in March 2006, each titled simply Farewell
Petra Farewell
Farewell is the last album released by Christian rock band Petra. It was released in 2005. A DVD of the concert was released in 2006.This is the second live album of the band and it was recorded during the bands Farewell tour in Franklin, Tennessee on October 4, 2005.The concert features guest...

. Petra's last performance began Dec. 31, 2005, in Murphy N.C., and ended shortly after midnight, Jan. 1, 2006, nearly 34 years after Hartman founded the band.

Vertical Expressions (2007)


Schlitt and Hartman, after arranging worship music together for a youth retreat, reunited for an independently released praise-and-worship CD in 2007, calling themselves II Guys from Petra and titling their CD Vertical Expressions
Vertical Expressions
Vertical Expressions is the first studio release of the collaboration between former Petra singer John Schlitt and guitarist Bob Hartman, also known as II Guys from Petra. It was released on January 26, 2007....

. The songs featured contemporary praise songs in a raw-sounding, electric rock format, and included two bonus tracks from Petra's recorded farewell performance that had not been included on the Farewell CD. Studio musicians played drums and bass, and former Petra keyboardist Jim Cooper
Jim Cooper (musician)
Jim Cooper is a Christian musician, songwriter, and producer.Cooper studied at Temple Christian Academy in his hometown. Jim Cooper got his feet wet with Jody Davis with the band Phos Also in the Band was a lead singer by the name of Gary...

 teamed with Hartman on production. Hartman and Schlitt have since performed several shows together, playing acoustic renditions of Petra and II Guys songs as recently as early 2010.

Reunion shows


The full band as comprised on the Farewell tour first reunited at the end of 2007, playing a 90-minute set in Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires is the capital and largest city of Argentina, and the second-largest metropolitan area in South America, after São Paulo. It is located on the western shore of the estuary of the Río de la Plata, on the southeastern coast of the South American continent...

 as part of Rock & Vida, a festival to commemorate World AIDS Day
World AIDS Day
World AIDS Day, observed December 1 every year, is dedicated to raising awareness of the AIDS pandemic caused by the spread of HIV infection. Government and health officials observe the day, often with speeches or forums on the AIDS topics. Since 1995, the President of the United States has made an...

. The lineup consisted of Hartman, Schlitt, Simmons and Bailey. This version of Petra, though in some cases with Simmons replaced by Christian Borneo on drums, reunited four more times in 2010, appearing at Heaven Fest in Longmont, Colorado
Longmont, Colorado
Longmont is a Home Rule Municipality in Boulder and Weld counties in the U.S. state of Colorado. Longmont is located in Northern Colorado. Longmont is the 13th most populous city in the State of Colorado. The word "Longmont" comes from Longs Peak, a prominent mountain named for explorer Stephen H....

, and Hills Alive Festival in Rapid City, South Dakota
Rapid City, South Dakota
Rapid City is the second-largest city in the U.S. state of South Dakota, and the county seat of Pennington County. Named after Rapid Creek on which the city is established, it is set against the eastern slope of the Black Hills mountain range. The population was 67,956 as of the 2010 Census. Rapid...

, as well as performing a pair of shows in Brazil. The band performed again at Rock & Vida in December 2010.

Back to the Rock (2010)


In early 2010, Hartman and former Petra members agreed to reunite to record an album in the fall, with a subsequent world tour. The lineup comprises Hartman on guitars, Greg X. Volz on vocals, Mark Kelly on bass, Louie Weaver on drums and John Lawry on keyboards. Although that specific lineup recorded only one studio album together — Beat the System in 1985 — Hartman, Volz, Kelly and Weaver were the heart of Petra's initial wave of success, recording More Power to Ya, Not of This World and Beat the System together before Volz's departure in 1986. Additionally, Weaver toured with the band in support of Never Say Die, Petra's first significant tour. Lawry, meanwhile, was Petra's longest-tenured keyboardist, joining the band on the Not of This World tour in 1984 and leaving 10 years later, at the end of Petra's second wave of success. Along with recording Beat the System, this iteration of Petra also was filmed for Captured in Time and Space, the first of the band's two live albums.

The album, titled Back to the Rock
Back to the Rock
Back to the Rock is a reunion album released by Classic Petra, an instance of the Christian rock band Petra, featuring the members of the Beat the System lineup...

was released for digital download in November 2010, with hard copies also sold at the band's November concert taping. It featured re-recordings of 10 classic Petra songs from the early and mid 1980s, as well as two new tracks. Hard copies of the CD went on sale in January 2011.

Back to the Rock Live (2011)


In November 2010, the members of Classic Petra played a live show together for the first time in decades, taping the concert at the Trinity Broadcasting Network
Trinity Broadcasting Network
The Trinity Broadcasting Network is a major American Christian television network. TBN is based in Costa Mesa, California, with auxiliary studio facilities in Irving, Texas; Hendersonville, Tennessee; Gadsden, Alabama; Decatur, Georgia; Miami, Florida; Tulsa, Oklahoma; Orlando, Florida; and New...

 studios. Though recorded ostensibly for broadcast on TBN and eventual DVD release, the show first found life as a live album, released digitally to iTunes and Amazon in April 2011. A companion DVD was released that July.

Larry Norman


Hartman, already a rock musician when he became a Christian, struggled at the time with whether Christians could glorify God through rock music. He credited the work of musician Larry Norman
Larry Norman
Larry David Norman was an American Christian musician, singer, songwriter, record label owner, and record producer, who worked with Christian rock music...

 as inspiring him to continue in Christian rock: "I'll never forget the first time I heard him. ... The freedom Larry had on stage, that freedom to just be himself, really set me free in my songwriting; it really set me free in the establishment of Petra."

Influence on others


During its 33-year career, Petra influenced countless artists in and out of the Christian scene. Petra was the only Christian band to play at the 1992 Farm Aid
Farm Aid
Farm Aid started as a benefit concert on September 22, 1985, in Champaign, Illinois, held to raise money for family farmers in the United States...

 concert and the first Christian band to be included in the Hard Rock Cafe
Hard Rock Cafe
Hard Rock Cafe is a chain of theme restaurants founded in 1971 by Americans Peter Morton & Isaac Tigrett. In 1979, the cafe began covering its walls with rock and roll memorabilia, a tradition which expanded to others in the chain. In 2006, Hard Rock was sold to the Seminole Tribe of Florida, and...

. In 2000, Petra was the first Christian rock band to be inducted to the Gospel Music Hall of Fame
Gospel Music Hall of Fame
The Gospel Music Hall of Fame, created in 1971 by the Gospel Music Association, is a Hall of Fame dedicated exclusively to recognizing meaningful contributions by individuals and groups in all forms of gospel music.-Inductees:...

. "The doubts about popular music mixing with Christian lyrics have mostly vanished due to their 25-year track record of proven ministry and changed lives. Petra was a true pioneer for our industry," GMA President Frank Breeden said at the time.

In 2004, CCM readers inducted Petra into its Hall of Fame, with the magazine noting:


Few artists had as much influence in the formation and growth of what has come to be known as "contemporary Christian music" as did Petra. ... As one of the movement’s trailblazers, Petra bore the brunt of the controversy, enduring picketers, protesters and public denunciations by prominent Christian leaders. (It is, perhaps, a telling sign of the Christian community’s former resistance to Petra that the band won a Grammy before they ever won a Dove Award!) Still, all rabble-rousers aside, Petra managed to create some of Christian music’s most treasured recordings.


The list of prominent Christian artists who began by listening to Petra is long, and it includes:
  • Bart Millard, lead singer of MercyMe
    MercyMe
    MercyMe is an American Christian rock band founded in Greenville, Texas. The band consists of vocalist Bart Millard, keyboardist James Bryson, percussionist Robby Shaffer, bassist Nathan Cochran and guitarists Michael Scheuchzer and Barry Graul....

    , said More Power to Ya was the first album he had bought with his own money. "I bought it twice because I literally wore the first one out," he wrote in CCM. "Because of that record, I became consumed with Christian music."
  • Singer/songwriter Chris Tomlin
    Chris Tomlin
    Christopher Dwayne "Chris" Tomlin is an American Christian Contemporary Music artist, worship leader, and songwriter from Grand Saline, Texas, United States. He is a former staff member at Austin Stone Community Church and is signed to EMI's sixstepsrecords. Tomlin also leads worship at many...

     has listed Not of This World as his "first Christian album."
  • The lead singer of rock band Third Day
    Third Day
    Third Day is a Grammy award-winning Christian rock band formed in Marietta, Georgia during the 1990s. The band was founded by lead singer Mac Powell, guitarist Mark Lee and former member Billy Wilkins. The other band members are bassist Tai Anderson and drummer David Carr...

    , Mac Powell
    Mac Powell
    Johnny Mac Powell , originally from Clanton, Alabama, is an American singer-songwriter and producer who formed the Christian rock band Third Day with guitarist Mark Lee...

    , said the band formed with the intention of being "the next Petra. You know, we wanted to be the next big band that affected a lot of people through music."
  • Former Newsboys lead singer Peter Furler
    Peter Furler
    Peter Andrew Furler is an Australian musician, songwriter, producer, and record executive but is best known as the former lead singer for the Christian rock band Newsboys.-Biography:...

     — who founded Inpop Records
    Inpop Records
    Inpop Records is an independent contemporary Christian music record label based in Franklin, Tennessee, USA. It was launched in July 1999 by Australians Peter Furler, Dale Bray, and Wes Campbell...

    , used the label to give Petra a home at the end of its career and produced the band's final studio album — and his band opened for Petra early in its career, and guitarist Jody Davis listed his first Petra concert as a major influence on his decision to move into live Christian music.

Tributes



Many artists have recorded tributes to Petra, including Christian-industry stars MxPx
MxPx
MxPx is a pop punk band from Bremerton, Washington with connections to the Christian punk scene. The band has recorded eight studio albums, four EPs, four compilation albums, a live album, a VHS tape, a DVD and released 20 singles....

, Jars of Clay
Jars of Clay
Jars of Clay is a Christian rock band from Nashville, Tennessee. They met at Greenville College in Greenville, Illinois.Jars of Clay consists of Dan Haseltine on vocals, Charlie Lowell on piano and keyboards, Stephen Mason on lead guitars and Matthew Odmark on rhythm guitars...

, Kevin Max
Kevin Max
Kevin Max Smith is an American singer, songwriter, and poet. He is best known for being a member of the Christian pop group dc Talk...

 of dc Talk
Dc Talk
DC Talk , is a Grammy-winning Christian rock music trio. The group was formed in Lynchburg, Virginia in 1987 by Toby McKeehan, Michael Tait, and Kevin Max Smith. They have released five major studio albums together: DC Talk , Nu Thang , Free at Last , Jesus Freak , and Supernatural...

, Sixpence None the Richer
Sixpence None the Richer
Sixpence None the Richer is an American rock/pop band that formed in New Braunfels, Texas, eventually settling in Nashville, Tennessee. They are best known for their songs "Kiss Me" and "Breathe Your Name" and their covers of "Don't Dream It's Over" and "There She Goes". The name of the band is...

, Plankeye
Plankeye
Plankeye was a Christian alternative rock band and one of Tooth & Nail Records' greatest successes during the 1990s and early 2000s. Plankeye's style could be defined as melodic post-grunge combined with indie and alternative elements...

, Grammatrain
Grammatrain
Grammatrain is a grunge rock band from Seattle, Washington who were active in the Christian rock industry in the 1990s. After disbanding in 1998, the group reunited as a secular act in 2009 and released their third full length album entitled "Imperium" the following year.-History:Singer/guitarist...

 and Galactic Cowboys
Galactic Cowboys
Galactic Cowboys was a Heavy Metal band based in Houston, Texas. They combined progressive metal with a style of vocals influenced by The Beatles and the heavy playing style of thrash bands such as Anthrax...

, all of whom appeared on the tribute album Never Say Dinosaur, released in 1996 by Star Song. Country singer Tim McGraw
Tim McGraw
Samuel Timothy "Tim" McGraw is an American country singer and actor. Many of McGraw's albums and singles have topped the country music charts with total album sales in excess of 40 million units in the US, making him the eighth best-selling artist, and the third best-selling country singer, in the...

 has covered "More Power To Ya" in his concerts, including during his portion of a national telethon to raise money for victims of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Other artists have included single song covers of Petra in some of their albums. These include:
  • "Thankful Heart" by Nathan Digesare (Jubilaté!, 1989)
  • "Judas' Kiss" by One Bad Pig
    One Bad Pig
    One Bad Pig is a Christian punk and metal crossover band from Austin, Texas which formed in 1985. The Encyclopedia of Contemporary Christian Music describes them as "Quite possibly the most popular hard-punk act ever to arise within the Christian music scene." They were known for their mischief and...

     (Swine Flew, 1990)
  • "More Power to Ya" by The RapSures (Loud, Proud and Born Again, 1990)
  • "All Over Me" by Die Happy (Intense Records Presents Die Happy Recorded Live – Intense Live Series Vol. 4, 1993)
  • "Adonai" by Hokus Pick
    Hokus Pick
    Hokus Pick was a Christian pop/rock band that was together from 1988 to 1999. The four members of Hokus Pick met in Vancouver, British Columbia. Hokus Pick was well known for their quirky sense of humor, using sarcasm, satire, and general silliness to convey a deeper message.Hokus Pick toured...

     (The B-Sides, 1996)

Discography


See the main article for detailed information on all of Petra's albums and videos, including compilation albums, as well as a list of Petra songs available on other artists' albums and other compilation albums.

Band members


The band's original lineup (1972) comprised:
  • Greg Hough
    Greg Hough
    Greg Hough is a Christian musician and, with Bob Hartman, one of the founding members of the Christian rock band Petra in 1972. During the 70s, he and Hartman were the band's main songwriters and lead singers....

     – guitar and vocals
  • Bob Hartman
    Bob Hartman
    Robert Hartman is a Christian artist, guitarist, writer and songwriter. He is the founder of Christian rock band Petra. Hartman was involved with the band from its foundation in 1972 to its end in 2005. He took a break from touring in 1995, but continued to write most of the band's songs,...

     – guitar and vocals
  • John DeGroff
    John DeGroff
    John DeGroff is a Christian musician.DeGroff was one of the original members of legendary Christian rock band Petra in 1972 along with Greg Hough, Bill Glover and Bob Hartman. He played bass guitar in the band's first two records before leaving in 1979....

     – bass guitar
  • Bill Glover
    Bill Glover
    William Glover is a Christian drummer and musician.Glover moved to Fort Wayne in the 60s when he was still a kid. When he was 13, he had taken up drumming...

     – drums


The band's Farewell lineup (2005) comprised:
  • John Schlitt
    John Schlitt
    John William Schlitt is known for his career as the lead singer of Christian rock band Petra from 1986 until the band's retirement in late 2005. Prior to joining Petra in 1986, Schlitt was the vocalist for Head East....

     – vocals
  • Bob Hartman
    Bob Hartman
    Robert Hartman is a Christian artist, guitarist, writer and songwriter. He is the founder of Christian rock band Petra. Hartman was involved with the band from its foundation in 1972 to its end in 2005. He took a break from touring in 1995, but continued to write most of the band's songs,...

     – guitar
  • Greg Bailey
    Greg Bailey
    Greg Bailey was bassist in the Christian Rock band Petra since joining in late 2001. Before that, he played with several rock bands, including Stir and others.Bailey's first Petra show was in a Pethead Convention held at Wichita, Kansas on January 26, 2002...

     – bass guitar
  • Paul Simmons
    Paul Simmons
    Paul Simmons is an American drummer. Currently, he is the drummer for the Reverend Horton HeatHe is previously most well known as the drummer for Th' Legendary Shack Shakers from 2003 to 2005. He was also the drummer in Christian rock band Petra from 2003 until their retirement in 2005...

     – drums


The band's "classic" reunion lineup (2010-present) comprises:
  • Greg X. Volz
    Greg X. Volz
    Gregory Xavier Volz is a Christian singer. He is most noted for being the former lead singer of Christian rock band Petra from 1979 to 1985 and is currently the lead vocalist of the reunited lineup.-Biography:...

     – vocals
  • Bob Hartman
    Bob Hartman
    Robert Hartman is a Christian artist, guitarist, writer and songwriter. He is the founder of Christian rock band Petra. Hartman was involved with the band from its foundation in 1972 to its end in 2005. He took a break from touring in 1995, but continued to write most of the band's songs,...

     – guitar
  • Mark Kelly
    Mark Kelly (bassist)
    Mark Dean Kelly is a Christian bass guitarist most remembered for being a member of Christian rock band Petra during the 1980s...

     – bass guitar
  • John Lawry
    John Lawry
    John Lawry is a Christian musician, composer, producer, and songwriter. He is most remembered for being the keyboardist of Christian rock band Petra during their most prolific years.-Biography:...

     – keyboards
  • Louie Weaver
    Louie Weaver
    Louie Weaver III is a Christian drummer most famous for being the long-time drummer of legendary Christian rock band Petra for 22 years. Weaver was controversially dismissed from the band in 2003. He is currently working on several projects. In 2010, Weaver reunited with former members of Petra...

     – drums

Petra history

Petra timeline
Years Band members Albums Video releases Music videos
1972–1978
  • Bob Hartman – Guitar, vocals
  • Greg Hough – Guitar, vocals
  • John DeGroff – Bass
  • Bill Glover – Drums
  • Petra (1974)
  • Come and Join Us (1977)
  • 1979–1980
  • Bob Hartman – Guitar
  • Greg X. Volz – Lead vocals, drums
  • Rob Frazier – Guitar, keyboards
  • Washes Whiter Than (1979)
  • 1981–1983
  • Bob Hartman – Guitar
  • Greg X. Volz – Lead vocals
  • John Slick – Keyboards
  • Mark Kelly – Bass
  • Louie Weaver – Drums
  • Never Say Die (1981)
  • More Power to Ya (1982)
  • Not of this World (1983)
  • 1984–1986
  • Bob Hartman – Guitar
  • Greg X. Volz – Lead vocals
  • Mark Kelly – Bass
  • Louie Weaver – Drums
  • John Lawry – Keyboards
  • Beat the System (1985)
  • Captured in Time and Space (1986)
  • Captured in Time and Space (1986)
  • Beat the System (1985)
  • 1986–1988
  • Bob Hartman – Guitar
  • Mark Kelly – Bass
  • Louie Weaver – Drums
  • John Lawry – Keyboards
  • John Schlitt – Lead vocals
  • Back to the Street (1986)
  • This Means War! (1987)
  • Whole World (1986)
  • 1988–1994
  • Bob Hartman – Guitar
  • Louie Weaver – Drums
  • John Lawry – Keyboards
  • John Schlitt – Lead vocals
  • Ronny Cates – Bass
  • On Fire! (1988)
  • Petra Praise: The Rock Cries Out (1989)
  • Beyond Belief (1990)
  • Unseen Power (1991)
  • Petra en Alabanza (1992)
  • Wake Up Call (1993)
  • On Fire Video Event (1989)
  • Beyond Belief Video Album (1990)
  • Back Stage Pass (1992)
  • Wake Up Call Video Collection (1993)
  • Defector (1989)
  • Mine Field (1989)
  • First Love (1989)
  • Counsel of The Holy (1989)
  • Who Do You Listen To? (1989)
  • Creed (1990)
  • Love (1990)
  • Seen and Not Heard (1990)
  • I am on The Rock (1990)
  • Armed and Dangerous (1990)
  • Our Turn Now (with Carman, 1991)
  • Destiny (1992)
  • Who's On the Lord's Side (1992)
  • Dance (1992)
  • Sight Unseen (1992)
  • I Need to Hear from You (1992)
  • In the Likeness of You (1992)
  • Midnight Oil (1993)
  • Just Reach Out (1993)
  • 1994–1996
  • Louie Weaver – Drums
  • John Schlitt – Lead vocals
  • Ronny Cates – Bass
  • Jim Cooper – Keyboards
  • David Lichens – Guitar
  • No Doubt (1995)
  • Enter In (1995)
  • Think Twice (1995)
  • 1996–1999
  • Louie Weaver – Drums
  • John Schlitt – Lead vocals
  • Kevin Brandow – Keyboards
  • Lonnie Chapin – Bass
  • Pete Orta – Guitar
  • Petra Praise 2: We Need Jesus (1997)
  • God Fixation (1998)
  • 1999–2001
  • Louie Weaver – Drums
  • John Schlitt – Lead vocals
  • Lonnie Chapin – Bass
  • Pete Orta – Guitar
  • Trent Thomason – Keyboards
  • Double Take (2000)
  • 2001–2003
  • Louie Weaver – Drums
  • John Schlitt – Lead vocals
  • Bryce Bell – Keyboards
  • Greg Bailey – Bass
  • Quinton Gibson – Guitar
  • Revival (2001)
  • Revival (2001)
  • 2003–2006
  • Bob Hartman – Guitar
  • John Schlitt – Lead vocals
  • Greg Bailey – Bass
  • Paul Simmons – Drums
  • Jekyll & Hyde (2003)
  • Jekyll & Hyde: en Espanol (2004)
  • Farewell (2005)
  • Farewell (DVD) (2005)
  • 2006–2010
    (festivals and select concerts)
    • Bob Hartman – Guitar
    • John Schlitt – Lead vocals
    • Greg Bailey – Bass
    2010–
  • Bob Hartman – Guitar
  • Greg X. Volz – Lead vocals
  • Mark Kelly – Bass
  • Louie Weaver – Drums
  • John Lawry – Keyboards
  • Back to the Rock (2010)
  • Back to the Rock Live (2011)


  • After founder Bob Hartman
    Bob Hartman
    Robert Hartman is a Christian artist, guitarist, writer and songwriter. He is the founder of Christian rock band Petra. Hartman was involved with the band from its foundation in 1972 to its end in 2005. He took a break from touring in 1995, but continued to write most of the band's songs,...

     (26 years), the band members with the longest tenures were drummer Louie Weaver
    Louie Weaver
    Louie Weaver III is a Christian drummer most famous for being the long-time drummer of legendary Christian rock band Petra for 22 years. Weaver was controversially dismissed from the band in 2003. He is currently working on several projects. In 2010, Weaver reunited with former members of Petra...

     (22 years) and singer John Schlitt
    John Schlitt
    John William Schlitt is known for his career as the lead singer of Christian rock band Petra from 1986 until the band's retirement in late 2005. Prior to joining Petra in 1986, Schlitt was the vocalist for Head East....

     (20 years).

    Awards

    • Inducted into the Christian Music Hall of Fame (2007)
    • Inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame
      Gospel Music Hall of Fame
      The Gospel Music Hall of Fame, created in 1971 by the Gospel Music Association, is a Hall of Fame dedicated exclusively to recognizing meaningful contributions by individuals and groups in all forms of gospel music.-Inductees:...

       (2000)
    • Inducted into the Hard Rock Cafe
      Hard Rock Cafe
      Hard Rock Cafe is a chain of theme restaurants founded in 1971 by Americans Peter Morton & Isaac Tigrett. In 1979, the cafe began covering its walls with rock and roll memorabilia, a tradition which expanded to others in the chain. In 2006, Hard Rock was sold to the Seminole Tribe of Florida, and...

       (1994)

    Grammy nominations

    • Best Performance by a Gospel Duo, Group, Choir or Chorus – Not of This World (1985)
    • Best Performance by a Gospel Duo, Group, Choir or Chorus – Beat the System (1986)
    • Best Performance by a Gospel Duo, Group, Choir or Chorus – Back to the Street (1987)
    • Best Performance by a Gospel Duo, Group, Choir or Chorus – This Means War! (1988)
    • Best Performance by a Gospel Duo, Group, Choir or Chorus – On Fire! (1989)
    • Best Rock Gospel Album – No Doubt (1996)
    • Best Pop/Contemporary Gospel Album – Petra Praise 2: We Need Jesus (1998)
    • Best Rock Gospel Album – God Fixation (1999)
    • Best Rock Gospel Album – Jekyll & Hyde (2004)

    Grammy Awards

    • Best Rock/Contemporary Gospel Album – Beyond Belief (1990)
    • Best Rock/Contemporary Gospel Album – Unseen Power (1992)
    • Best Rock Gospel Album – Wake-Up Call (1994)
    • Best Rock Gospel Album – Double Take (2000)

    Dove Awards

    • Long Form Music Video – "On Fire!" (1990)
    • Recorded Music Packaging – Petra Praise: The Rock Cries Out (1990)
    • Group of the Year (1991)
    • Rock Album – Beyond Belief (1991)
    • Rock Recorded Song – "Beyond Belief" (1991)
    • Recorded Music Packaging – Beyond Belief (1991)
    • Rock Recorded Song – "Destiny" (1993)
    • Rock Album
      24th GMA Dove Awards
      The 24th Annual GMA Dove Awards were held on April 1, 1993 recognizing accomplishments of musicians for the year 1992. The show was held in Nashville, Tennessee, and was hosted by Barbara Mandrell.-Award recipients:*Artist of the Year**Michael English...

       – Wake-Up Call (1994)
    • Rock Album – No Doubt (1996)
    • Praise and Worship Album – Petra Praise 2: We Need Jesus (1998)

    Other awards

    • The Netherlands
      Netherlands
      The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

      ' Contemporary Christian album of the year – This Means War! (1988
      1988 in music
      This is a list of notable events in music that took place in the year 1988.-January-March:* January 1 – André Rieu's Johann Strauss Orchestra plays its first concert....

      )




    External links