A fresh zeal for God swept through America’s Christian youth in the 60’s and 70’s, inspiring many expressions of faith, including new music and the beginning of the Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) field. Fireworks was a pioneer CCM group and one of its most active pop/rock bands from 1976 to 1983. They recorded 5 albums and performed hundreds of concerts across the US and Canada. Marty McCall, founder, lead vocalist and primary songwriter for the group, led the band from beginning to end.
Over it’s eight-year lifespan, the configuration of Fireworks changed a number of times with some members playing for years, some for shorter seasons. Band members included, in chronological order, Gary Pigg (writer/vocalist), Gwen Moore (writer/vocalist), Lanny Avery (writer/drummer), Chris Harris (writer/bassist), Mark Christian (writer/electric guitarist), Cindy Hudson (vocalist), Jerry Gaston (writer/electric guitarist), Bob Sinkovic (writer/bassist), Mary Avery (vocalist), David Johnson (drummer), Louie Weaver (drummer – recording only), Dave Kurfman (bassist), Ric Simonsen (drummer) and Mark Chesshir (electric guitarist).
Fireworks performed with numerous Christian artists, many in the beginning stages of successful careers, including Amy Grant, BJ Thomas, Randy Stonehill, Randy Matthews, Phil Keaggy, David Meece, Daniel Amos, Resurrection Band, Terry Talbot, Honeytree, Sweet Comfort Band, Petra and Servant. The band also enjoyed extensive airplay in the early days of CCM Radio, including a national number one while, CCM Magazine ranked the album “Shatter The Darkness” among the top 10 Christian albums of 1979.
In spite of the rising popularity of Christian rock and pop, the artists performing in this young genre also attracted a significant amount of resistance from some sectors of the Christian community. It was not unusual to read articles or hear of sermons criticizing the use of the typically secular rock/pop style for Christian expression. Many bands were directed to tone it down or risk being unplugged. But over time, the support outweighed the opposition.
In a 1981 article on Fireworks, CCM Magazine stated, “Their blend of heart-knocking songs, rich in lyrical content and the stage presence of these four men creates an atmosphere of rock n’roll piety and Christian love which emanates not only from the stage, but from their personal lives as well.”
As Marty reflected, “We want to lift up Jesus. We would never have stayed together if we didn’t know it was His will. Being a Christian rock band on the road is too hard, too new and experimental to continue without knowing He is leading us.”
But why rock? “The rock medium is dramatic and expressive. When I want to communicate my faith, I want to use the best communicative medium available. When I perform to youth in America, rock music is the most effective.”
For those who became Christians during those early CCM years, and grew up spiritually with songs of the era as part of their worship experience, the music holds a special place in their hearts. While some recordings are no longer available (including Fireworks), some dedicated fans share and enjoy their memories and the music online, where new listeners are introduced to a rich musical season in the life of the contemporary Church.
1977 Fireworks – Myrrh Records
1979 Shatter the Darkness – Myrrh Records
1980 Live Fireworks – MCA Songbird
1981 Up – MCA Songbird
1982 Sightseeing at Night – MCA Songbird