People! - I Love You (1968)

Some bands have unusual backstories. People! - yes, the exclamation point is part of their name - could be the only rock band in history that suffered from serious personnel issues due to religious differences.

People! were a one-hit wonder from San Jose, CA who had a #14 hit with "I Love You," a cover of a Zombies song written by the British Invasion band's bass player, Chris White.

Lead singer Larry Norman - already a devout Christian - joined the psychedelic rock sextet in time to add his vocals to this fun single released on Capitol Records. It's success allowed People! to record a full album that included a song he brought to the band, "What We Need is a Lot More Jesus and a Lot Less Rock & Roll" written by country singer Wayne Rainey that was also covered by Linda Ronstadt. The LP was not a hit.

Just as "I Love You" was gaining momentum - a year after the Summer of Love - most of the group became devotees of Scientology and pressured Norman to join them. Due to his own deeply held convictions he refused, so they asked him to leave, believing he no longer fit in. As it turns out, most of the remaining members still follow Scientology today.

Some readers may recognize Norman's name. After leaving the band he moved on to religious music and is considered by many to be the founder of the Christian rock movement although he never achieved much commercial success in the genre. He acknowledged his music was "too secular for the Christians and too Christian for the secularists."

Norman died in 2008 at age 60. In its obituary Christianity.com wrote, "It is certainly no overstatement to say Larry Norman is to Christian music what John Lennon is to rock & roll or Bob Dylan is to folk music."

People! broke up in 1971 after several personnel changes and two more albums failed to attract any attention. There have been several short-lived reunions over the years. Norman participated in one shortly before he passed away.

Watch People! lip-synching their song on Dick Clark's American Bandstand in 1968.

Comments

  1. Well, the Jim Kwesking Jug Band was pretty much done in by being taken over by a member who became a cult leader.

    Hey, did I point you toward People!? Was just discussing them on George Kelley's blog a few weeks ago...

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    1. Thanks for the Jim Kweskin info. I didn't know that. Did you know the jug band is where Maria Muldaur got her start?

      No, I didn't get the idea for the post on People! from you. A person recently gave me a burned CD with a mix of hits from 1968 and "I Love You" was on it. I knew of the song but I knew nothing about the band and that CD spurred me into action.

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