In July 1967, the Glass Menagerie group disbanded after touring the Midwest, and Larry McClurg, Jack Bond, and Norris Lytton returned to Morgantown where they were all all students at West Virginia University. Jim Straub, drummer, left for parts unknown. John Fisher, lead guitar, joined the Shadows of Knight as a bass player from 1967-1971. At the University, Larry, Norris and Jack met John Vaughan, Ted Smith and the fiery, young, controversial and imaginative campus minister, Reverend Michael Paine. Soon a new, as yet unnamed band was formed. Reverend Paine's wife, Tori, named the band the Mind Garage.
By July 1968, the term "theo-rock" was coined in the Village Voice in reference to The Mind Garage music. By the end of 1968, the Mind Garage had performed the "Electric Liturgy" live more than a dozen times, in Episcopal, Catholic, Presbyterian, Baptist and Methodist churches, each time with people dancing in the aisles. Each time, the services were attended by Christians and non Christians alike in a communal celebration of life.
The persistent efforts by the Mind Garage to contemporize religious music succeeded in church after church, state after state. They broke the barrier between church and rock and roll, creating an environment where Christian Rock, a new genre of rock music could thrive.
The first nationally televised Christian Rock and Roll worship service was given by the Mind Garage in St. Mark's Episcopal church in New York on ABC TV April 27, 1969, catapulting Christian Rock into the mainstream.
The Electric Liturgy, recorded for RCA Victor (LSP-4319) in 1969 was the first Christian Rock album recorded in Nashville at RCA's "Nashville Sound" Studio A, on Music Row, foreshadowing CCM. It was a godsend that gave Christian Rock music a whole new distribution beyond the traditional Christian marketplace.
The studio was under the management of Chet Atkins. His acoustic Martin guitar can be heard on the Electric Liturgy in subtle background passages. Studio A was donated to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1992.
It fills the room to the ceiling pushing against the walls. They sing in voices that should have belonged to Druids or Incas, or Gypsies under a night sky, and you see Jesus smiling at them. When you leave you feel somebody has been dissecting your soul and everything is clearer. And that's what an Electric Mass is.
The church programs explained that "the Holy Communion is the Creator's act through His people of binding the wounds and healing a broken humanity. Sometimes it is a party, sometimes not. But participation in it signals your desire to take on hope. Therefore all people confessing their frail humanity and yearning for a greater are welcome to come to the altar and receive Holy Communion."
The Electric Liturgy became so popular the band was invited to perform the service in churches throughout the Eastern United States including Washington, D.C., New York, and Princeton University Chapel. The Electric Liturgy was shocking. Dean Ernest Gordon of Princeton University said "We could all do with a shocking splendid spiritual surprise".
In the 1970s, the Jesus People movement became major news and Christian Folk and Rock musicians gained in populularity. Even more Christian hard rock groups emerged in the 1980s. By the 1990s, the superstar, #1 Rock group in the world, U2, was perceived as a Christian Rock band who's lyrics abounded with the Christian themes. In the 2000s, Christian music is one of the fastest-growing genres in the mainstream musical industry. Christian Rock continues to influence and inspire untold millions worldwide.
Armed Forces Radio and Television Service entertained troops at home and abroard in Vietnam with the music of the Mind Garage and other artists such as Gary Lewis, Bob Seger, and Percy Faith. The Mind Garage often appeared with groups such as Canned Heat, Sly and the Family Stone, Paul Butterfield, all of whom played at Woodstock 1969, but the Mind Garage declined the invitation themselves to play at Woodstock Festival as did also Led Zeppelin, The Doors, Bob Dylan and The Moody Blues and the Beatles. In 1970 when their recording contract was about to expire, RCA offered to renew it but the band declined. Then without explanation they walked away from a recording career, and simply stopped playing. The band never officially broke up. There was no press release, and no dispute among members, or management. Drummer Ted Smith, acknowledged by the Zildjian cymbals as one of the best drummers in the world, continued his career with the Spinners as tour drummer for the next several decades, and can be heard on the Spinners "LIVE" album, Atlantic SD 2-910-1198.
For as little time as the Mind Garage performed, the fresh, unique style and energy had a ripple effect, that even without a #1 hit, continues to influence groups from one end of the musical spectrum to the other long after they stopped recording. The Fleshtones from the 1970s era of Punk rock and New Wave music credit the Mind Garage as an influence.
John Denver, noted folk singer, listed the Mind Garage members in the liner notes of his 1982 vinyl Gold record "Seasons of the Heart" for contributing to album.
They were not the usual fraternity party/sock hop style band of that era. They took over with mind blowing techniques. Hours before the show, people would arrive to get a good seat only to find a crowd already there. People would push and shove to get in until the doors were finally opened. The entire street would fill up and the police would give up trying to make people line up and just re-route traffic. The venue would pack beyond capacity for both club settings and the Mass with people literally swelling out the doorways. Even the act of entering was part of the entertainment. For example, in the Fairmont Theatre lobby you might see someone in a tub taking a bath. Nothing was routine.
On occasion there were other performers, light shows, bizarre psych fashion shows and dancers, but the Mind Garage was always THE show. The sound was mind blowing. The general comment that floated around while the band was on break was "man these guys are f---ing' good." The Mind Garage not only had the right sound but the band had a spark, charisma, magic. They just clicked. They were far out in front of the curve and ahead of their time.
According to Kornfeld, "I consider Goodstock to be the first real attempt to have another 3 days of peace and music". "When everybody's doing Woodstocks in 2009, I'm going to be doing Goodstock -The Woodstock Reunion 2009, and that's my dream for Larry and I to have.