June 11, 2010

Dana Key (1953-2010)

Dana Key, contemporary Christian music pioneer, died this past Sunday at the age of 56, of complications following a blood clot.

Key was the former lead singer of the Christian rock duo Degarmo & Key, formed in 1978 with his lifelong friend Eddie DeGarmo. After D&K disbanded in the mid-90s, Key continued for a while in the music industry and became the senior pastor of a church in Tennessee.

D&K had the distinction of being the first Christian band with a video in rotation at MTVL, for their single "Six, Six, Six." Because of its apocalyptic imagery, it was soon pulled from rotation for being too violent, until the producers realized they had removed a Christian video by mistake (the band was invited to resubmit it). Granted, the "cheese factor" in some of their music was pretty high: not only did the Swirling Eddies parody two of their songs on their Sacred Cows album, but Steve Taylor also inserted a snarky rap into the Newsboys' cover of "Boycott Hell" as a commentary on the quality of the words. But even if their lyrical quality was sometimes wanting, their earnestness for sharing the Gospel never was. And as an older teen, the album The Pledge struck just the right note with me at the right time.

You finished your race well, Dana. Now, rest.