Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Long time Christian rock act Petra rocks no longer as fansite Petra Rock My World reports that the band is calling it quits:
Rumors of the impending demise of Petra have annoyed the band for years. Time after time these rumors were shot down by the band members.

But not this time.

Europeans who saw Petra perform recently sent word to American fans that founder Bob Hartman and lead singer John Schlitt had been talking about retirement. Hartman confirmed to petrarocksmyworld.com that it wasn't just talk.

He and Schlitt have decided "it's time to call it quits," Hartman said.

"This will most likely be our last year of ministry," he said. "We don't expect to be doing any concerts after November at the latest."
Having grown up on Petra I have to say that bums me out a bit. While not a progressive rock act I liken them to Rush in the mainstream market -- a rock act that's been around quite awhile and does it's own thing. Petra's career is roughly equivalent to Rush's in terms of longevity, although they didn't nearly put out as many albums.
Petra had endured a downturn in album sales and concert bookings since around 1995, when Hartman stopped touring with the band as guitarist. Their music progressively softened as the band recorded more ballads and worship songs, seeking radio hits that would lead to more interest and concert support. Their efforts did not seem to pay off.
I don't really see their downturn as much attributed to Hartman as I do to the tired sound they were putting out beginning in the early 90's. They rode the Elefante train to the end, and then stayed on long after others had stepped off (Elefante being the name of the brothers John and Dino Elefante, formerly of Kansas, who perfected the glam-rock chorus sound in the late 80's / early 90's and produced many Christian acts during that time (including Petra and their own band Mastedon) as well as releasing records on their own Pakaderm label).

Apparently Jekyll and Hyde will be their last album. Released in 2003 it featured a return to their hard rock roots bringing Hartman back on guitar and dumping everybody else (including long time drummer Louie Weaver) except John Schlitt (the lead singer). Can't say the drumming was better, but the song writing and overall performance was good.

Farewell, guys.

It is finished -- and the sky grew black as the night.
It is finished -- and the people scattered in fright.
The word had been done, redemption had been won.
The war was over without a fight.
It is finished.

1 comment:

Josh Renaud said...

Just a minor correction - Bob Hartman wasn't "brought back on guitar" for J&H. he played guitars on EVERY Petra album, even when he wasn't touring.

He was the primary songwriter on all the albums (except the praise albums, which were obviously primarily composed of songs already in the mainstream). And during his time off from touring he became a producer on all the albums.