Where Sin Abounds, Grace Abounds — Even in the World of Heavy Metal

These rock musicians have come to Christ through some of the least likely ways.

Rock concert
Rock concert (photo: Pixabay/CC0)

Though the news didn’t receive the coverage that Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watt’s death did, Joey Jordison, the lead drummer of the heavy metal band Slipknot as well as guitarist for the horror punk band Murderdolls, died last month. He was 46.

The vagaries of the heavy metal subgenres are obscurely pretentious and unintelligible to the rest of humanity. But each name is designed to solicit, horror, fear, foreboding and disgust. Some examples include: death metal, stoner metal, goth metal, horror metal, hard alternative metal, black metal, power metal, industrial metal and trash metal. They all are nihilistic and obsessed with death, suffering and pain — perfect for disaffected teenagers.

But ironically, heavy metal has actually seen a plethora of some serious, high-profile conversions over the years. After all, the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus Our Lord, has the power to overcome the empty allure of limitless sex, drugs and rock-and-roll. Notable examples include:

  • Alice Cooper. During an interview with Johnnie Walker on BBC Radio 2 in September 2007, Cooper remarked, “Drinking beer is easy. Trashing your hotel room is easy. But being a Christian, that’s a tough call. That’s real rebellion!” Cooper said that he was not a Christian when he gave up drinking, but told Walker that he thanked God for “taking it away,” saying, “I mean, if he can part the Red Sea and create the universe, he can certainly take alcoholism away from somebody.” Although he originally did not speak publicly about his religious beliefs, Cooper was later vocal about his Christian faith.
  • Brian “Head” Welch, Korn guitarist and co-founder. In March, 2005, Welch was baptized in the River Jordan. Brian discusses his “come-to-Jesus” moment in his autobiography Save Me from Myself: How I Found God, Quit Korn, Kicked Drugs, and Lived to Tell My Story.
  • C.C. Deville, Poison
  • Dan Spitz, Anthrax
  • Dave Lombardo, Slayer, drummer
  • Dave Mustaine, Megadeth. He has stated that he was “saved in 2002.” He has resolutely refused to play alongside satanic-themed bands since his conversion.
  • David Warren Ellefson, Megadeth bassist. He also plays for Temple of Brutality, F5 and Killing Machine.
  • Dee Snider, Twisted Sister
  • Fieldy, Korn
  • Nicko McBrain, Iron Maiden
  • Peter Steele, Type O Negative. He was born into a Catholic family but abandoned his faith. He has subsequently returned to the Church.
  • Tom Araya, Slayer

In addition to these hardcore metalheads, there have been other notable conversions to Christ, or movements from atheism to theism, including:

  • Bob Dylan, who has spoken about religious faith and whose music is suffused with religious themes.
  • Abe Laborial, Jr., Macca’s drummer 
  • Abe Laborial, Sr., Macca’s bassist 
  • Billy Joe Royal
  • Blackie Lawless, WASP
  • Bob Marley was afflicted with cancer for six years, but not long before he died, he was baptized into the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. His baptismal name was Berhane Selassie – “Light of the Trinity.” His funeral was held at the Ethiopian Orthodox Church of the Holy Trinity on Maxfield Avenue in Jamaica by Archbishop Abuna Yesehaq.
  • Bono, U2, (Paul David Hewson) is an Irish singer-songwriter, musician, venture capitalist, businessman and philanthropist.
  • C.C. DeVille, Poison
  • Dan Spitz, Anthrax’s lead guitarist. In 2000, Spitz became a Messianic Jew melding Jewish customs while acknowledging that one is saved only through Jesus.
  • Dave Mustaine, Metallica and Megadeath’s guitarist. By the early 2000s, Mustaine was down on life and at his lowest moment, he started at a cross, and, “I said six simple words, ‘What have I got to lose?’ Afterwards, my whole life has changed.”
  • David Pack, Ambrosia guitarist, songwriter
  • Dez Dickerson, Prince guitarist
  • Ed Kowalczyk, Live, lead singer 
  • Joe English, Wings drummer
  • John Elefante, Kansas, second lead singer
  • Jonathan Cain, Journey
  • Johnny Cash, an American singer-songwriter, guitarist, actor and author. Everyone likes Johnny Cash, as evidenced by his multiple inductions in the Country Music, Rock and Roll and Gospel Music Halls of Fame.
  • Jon Gordon Langseth Jr. (AKA Johnny Lang)
  • Kerry Livgren, Kansas lead guitarist and songwriter who wrote, “Carry On Wayward Son” and “Dust in the Wind,” with more than 14 million recordings sold.
  • Lou Gramm, Foreigner
  • Mark Farner, Grand Funk Railroad
  • Matthias Jabs, Scorpions
  • Phil Driscoll, The Byrds
  • Randy Bachman, The Guess Who and Bachman-Turner Overdrive
  • Richie Furay, Buffalo Springfield and Poco
  • Rick Derringer, classical rock musician, he wrote the 1973 hit single “Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo.” He’s also played on recordings by Kiss, Alice Cooper, Steely Dan and Cyndi Lauper.
  • Rick Wakeman, Yes keyboardist
  • Ringo Starr, The Beatles’ drummer. At a recent event at L.A.’s Grammy Museum, Ringo admitted in an interview that he had “found God.” He’s subsequently given up alcohol and smoking. He admits that religion now plays an important role in his life.
  • Roger McGuinn, leader of The Byrds.

This really shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, especially those familiar with the wild-and-woolly ways of the Lord — that Heavenly Hound who offers neither quarter nor respite in his pursuit. He is relentless in his tracking down of lost sinners.

As C.S. Lewis reminds us, “The doors to Hell are locked from the inside.” Thus, the soul can always ultimately and finally reject the Lord.

But our God is a generous God and will forgive all who throw themselves at his mercy and wholeheartedly repent.

Oscar Wergeland, “Service in a German Village Church,” ca. 1880

This Sunday, I’ll Be Going to Church. Will You Join Me?

“The Sunday Eucharist is the foundation and confirmation of all Christian practice. For this reason the faithful are obliged to participate in the Eucharist on days of obligation, unless excused for a serious reason (for example, illness, the care of infants) or dispensed by their own pastor. Those who deliberately fail in this obligation commit a grave sin.” [CCC 2181]

Oscar Wergeland, “Service in a German Village Church,” ca. 1880

This Sunday, I’ll Be Going to Church. Will You Join Me?

“The Sunday Eucharist is the foundation and confirmation of all Christian practice. For this reason the faithful are obliged to participate in the Eucharist on days of obligation, unless excused for a serious reason (for example, illness, the care of infants) or dispensed by their own pastor. Those who deliberately fail in this obligation commit a grave sin.” [CCC 2181]