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February 22, 2011

Film, Tour Remember Larry Norman

'Fallen Angel' documentary, director, and Randy Stonehill headline event

The Fallen Angel Film & Music Tour kicked off last night in Surrey, BC, featuring a documentary about late CCM legend Larry Norman (who died of heart failure in 2008), live music from Norman's contemporary and longtime friend Randy Stonehill, and a Q&A with the film's director, David Di Sabatino.

According to a press release, the documentary asks whether Norman, known as the “father of Christian rock," was "nothing more than a contemporary Elmer Gantry, a musical flim-flam man out to con the faithful."

The release also calls Norman "the most vibrant musical performer to shake, rattle and roll church pews during a hip countercultural revival of religion known as the 'Jesus movement.' Casting a prophet-like presence and with lyrics that cut to the marrow, Norman became the voice of a generation of young Christians trying to make sense of their faith amidst the chaos of the 1960s. . . . Over time however, Norman’s crafted image began to overtake him and the line between fact and fiction became blurred.

Stonehill (at left with Norman many years ago), who was led to Christ by Norman, only to be burned by his friend more than once in later years, says he watched Norman "grasp for hope at first, but then slowly lose grip on those fundamental principles.” The press release says that in the documentary unfolds "the true story of this enigmatic figure for the first time."

See the trailer for Fallen Angel here:

Fallen Angel DVD Preview from churchspeak on Vimeo.


I am Larry Norman's biographer. And I have been a friend of Larry Norman and his family for over 30 years. Larry was always the first one to want to pray, to pay for dinner, to encourage us to feed the poor. He was generous and quick to ask for forgiveness and to forgive. And Larry never spoke ill to me about any of the people slinging mud at him now that he has passed. Above all Larry brought more people to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ than anyone I have ever met.

As Larry's biographer I am researching documents and conducting interviews everyday and there are hundreds if not thousands of people who have had similar edifying experiences with Larry Norman. Therefore I was amazed at the incredible amount of inaccurate information, innuendo, and slander that make up David Di Sabatino's "documentary". If you want to see the many documents that I am privy to, I have published them at www.failedangle.com .
Allen Flemming

Thank you, Allen. I continue to find it sad and appalling when these media outlets promote this biased, vindictive mess of a film in their effforts to help pile up some box office dollars for the film's producers and take a cheap shots at a dead artist's reputation and accomplishments. I guess the people writing this stuff were simply "not around" as I was when Larry was initially doing his thing despite massive criticsm from every side imaginable. This film has been discredited for so long now and by so many diverse sources that it is simply inexcusable to promote screenings... unless you have a secret desire to drive another nail in Larry's coffin now that he's powerless to speak for himself. These folks pushing the film's PR (including staff writers from publications) know by now that there are in fact much finer, more objective films currently in production yet they seek to exploit the window of time still available to stack up some box office dollars before these films are completed. But then, if you dig back, many "Christian" based publications such as this one have had a long stored axe to grind when it comes to Larry, opting to compliment him and his monumental body of work "with a heavy degree of inuendo". Here it is again.

If there is one absolutely minimal requirement for a documentary film, it is that it must at least try to present the truth. Documentarians have a special obligation to the world as they are documenting history for posterity. If they fail to accurately represent the truth, they have deceived countless people for a prolonged period until someone comes along and corrects the record. This film is not just careless with the facts, or accidentally reporting inaccuracies, this film is a deliberate effort by the filmmaker to misrepresent the facts about a highly accomplished musical evangelist and respected teacher and leader in the Christian community. In short, it is a hit piece.

David Di Sabatino, who has only one other film to his credit (which was also a hit piece on a Christian leader, Lonnie Frisbee), broke every rule of honest documentary film making. First of all, there is no documentation in this documentary. My dictionary gives the following definition for a documentary: 1. Consisting of, concerning, or based on documents. 2. Presenting facts objectively without editorializing or inserting fictional matter, as in a book or film. Yet, in this film, the filmmaker sought out and included statements only from people who had grudges against him. There were a great many people who knew Larry Norman very well for an extended period of time whose statements were not sought. When family members offered to provide documentation falsifying the film's claims they were rejected and not even mentioned in the film. The strongest and most slanderous allegations of the film are pure innuendo. The few people with grudges who derided Larry were represented as typical cases of people that knew Larry. They were not.

Furthermore, with one minor exception, no one interviewed in the film had been involved in Larry's life in over 30 years! There are many people that have expressed shock by the overt and destructive lies that they heard in this film and that have said they personally know the allegations presented to be false or contrary to their experience, yet their opinions were not included.

See the film, but watch it with a critical eye.

(I was a personal friend of Larry's for the last 30 years of his life and can personally vouch for Larry's impeccable character. He was a man of the highest integrity, had a deep and sincere love for God, and was filled with love for everyone he met. And he never stopped talking to people about the love of Jesus!)

interesting that the above FALLEN ANGEL documentary critics don't address Larry Norman's adultery, that took place with at least one of his peer group wives. also, no mention about Larry's "secret" Australian child. if i had a "father" who didn't acknowledge me in public & didn't support me, how do you think that would effect me??

Larry was a great musician & lyricist but had his "Bathsheba" moment also....

In response to the comment that makes reference to the alleged adultery and alleged abandonment of a child: These allegations that are made in the film, through innuendo and unsubstantiated speculation, are rebutted in detail on the web site, www.failedangle.com, which was set up to answer the many errors presented in the film. The alleged adultery is a pure lie, and the speculation about the child has yet to be substantiated documentarily. It is irresponsible to post such destructive rumors with no regard for the truth or the well-being of others. At this point the filmmaker has committed himself to smearing this righteous man’s legacy, let’s all be careful not to repeat gossip from a film and unwittingly become party to the sin of bearing false witness.

Hey Allen, so do you think that Larry ever did anything wrong? (like I mean ever? - it sounds a bit like a cult of the infallability of Larry Norman)

Terry - I didn't get that feeling at all from what Alan posted. Sounds to me like he's a guy who is close friends with someone who is being beat up over some things he knows to not be true, and felt compelled to introduce what he knows to the discussion. I sure hope that one of my friends would do the same for me in a similar circumstance. I'd bet you would, too.

My biggest issue with the film (that hasn't already been pointed out) is it's a documentary on a man based on approximately 8 years of his life. The other 25 years after the time of the film are not even represented. This time, I believe was Larry's biggest impact. When his music, that was so ahead of it's time, was discovered and copied over and over again. Larry's voice will be heard long after all forget the name Sabatino.
Sabatino makes a point to say Larry played at local churches for 20 years like that's a bad thing. My daughter saw him when she was 5 and it still has an impact with her. Larry stayed after for an hour or so and was so happy to just be with other believers. What a kind, gentle man he was.
If you study God's history you'll see many people used greatly by God who were not perfect, but they had a common characteristic, their heart was soft to God.
I'm not a cult supporter of Larry. If you listened to him live even once you'd know he shared his faults openly. Most of the criticism seems to be that he did some things wrong at parts of his life, ok, add those up, even the ones that clearly aren't true. Scale this with the tens of thousands who will share what a positive impact he was. If there is any story here it was the lack of understanding and judgment the churches expressed at Larry and Randy.
I was at a concert in the 70's when he was called anti-christ from the audience between songs. Even today this movie gets played in all places, churches. Churches that use his music during their hymns.
Show me one major Christian evangelist, prophet, or leader who would come through this type of "ethical filter", without any clarification of the remains, without questions. Questions are not convictions, even in our worldly court of reason, but as Christians, well we're supposed to have a higher requirement.

I may watch this movie, but with the understanding that Norman,like all of us, was something of a walking contradiction. God uses all of us, and all of us are broken vessels. The good news is He still uses us.

Frisbee was a "hit piece"?


Did you even watch that movie?

Oh my...some deluded Larry Norman defenders.