I can't be sure, but I think I saw Rich Mullins in concert.

I was in junior high and attending a week-long camp at Kentucky Christian College called "Summer in the Son." Each night featured a concert from a big-name CCM artist. I remember being excited to see Audio Adrenaline but indifferent toward the week's other musical guests. Audio Adrenaline had recently released their self-titled first album. I felt special because my uncle had taught Mark Stuart and the other guys in the band as a professor at KCC, and I had a bootleg cassette tape from when they were called A-180. The Audio A concert was predictably thrilling. But during the other concerts I sat awkward and alone in the back of the chapel, where the biggest electric fan I've ever seen prevented me from hearing all but intermittent strains of music from the stage.

Years later, after Mullins's death, when I was regretting that I had never seen him in concert, I was confronted with a vague memory - that Rich Mullins had been one of the shows that summer in Kentucky - and an even bigger regret: that I had seen Mullins in concert but didn't pay attention.

Against all odds, Rich Mullins became one of my favorite singer/songwriters. I'm working on an article about Mullins for next Monday's issue of the Writers Collective. But today, I thought I'd ask you all if you have any special thoughts or memories about Rich on this the eleventh anniversary of his death.


  1. Love Rich. So talented, and such great lyrics.

    I didn't get until recently, however, just what an accurate representation of Jesus he was. Not just a "Christian"...but very much like Jesus. I read James Bryan Smith's "An Arrow Pointing to Heaven" a few years back, and it was truly life-changing.

    Thanks for remembering him today!

    Amy Storms

  2. I saw Rich Mullins in concert a handful of times, and was impressed by several things about him. One, that he was such a sincere person who just truly wanted to serve God with his life. And two that he was an AMAZING musician. I specifically remember at one show that everyone in the band played almost every instrument at some point in the concert. They would just get up and switch spots and feel completely at ease with whatever they were playing.

    I remember that he was scheduled to give a concert where I was going to school (Lincoln Christian College) the week after he was killed in the car accident in Peoria, Illinois. Now listening to some of his songs, they seem almost prophetic that he was going to leave this life before he turned into an 85 year-old man. One line of a song of his reads something like "When I go, I wanna go out like Elijah. . .it won't break my heart to say goodbye."

    I also have a funny memory of a good friend of mine being upset that he died because he was the only Christian artist he ever listened to. His response was something like, "Why couldn't someone from Petra or some other Christian band die? Why Rich Mullins?"

    On a side note, what a great shout out to A-180 (aka Audio Adrenaline). Ah, memories of them in their screaming angst days. Oh, Summer in the Son. . .

  3. never saw Rich in concert, but as a huge Caedmon's Call fan through the years, I experienced his passing through their eyes.

    "The Rich Song" by Caedmon's Call (written by Derek Webb and available on their Guild 2 CD) and "3 Days Before Autumn" by Andrew Peterson are the songs I think of when I think of Rich's passing.

  4. I was at a summer festival and decided to wander away from my friends one night and walk around by myself. I went into a smaller, side venue tent and there were a couple of guys on stage from Caedmon's Call. They were new at the time and said they could only afford to send the two of them to the festival. Anyway towards the end of the concert they said they couldn't believe it but Rich Mullins was there and wanted to come up on stage and play with them. I had heard the name Rich Mullins at the time but didn't know much else. I'll never forget when he came on stage my first thought was, 'This guy looks like a bum.' He really did sort of look like a bum. He had on an old stained t-shirt, baggy jeans and had long, messy hair. When they started playing though the mood of the crowd instantly changed from a concert feeling to something like a worship service.

    I've always been really thankful I had that opportunity. I would later find out Rich died about a month later.

    "An Arrow Pointing to Heaven" rivals Melody Green's "No Compromise" as the most life changing biography I've ever read. I love Rich Mullins.

  5. I still remember where i was when i heard he'd died. Afternoon in my dorm room, freshman year. The blinds were spread, but turned open to give the room an warm feel. I don't remember feeling warm.

    I learned a lot from his music. I still do. For, "the same old stories bear repeating, and the plain old truth grows dearer every day."

  6. There's some great quotes of his here:


  7. Aaron, that's a cool memory. I totally remember Derek Webb talking about that experience. I think it was Cornerstone 97.

    i think you can actually read derek's thoughts about that night in his journal entry at derekwebb.net:

    July 6, 1997

  8. Bryan, that's exactly what it was! That's so insane to read Derek's journal from that night. I always thought it might have been him on stage but was never really sure. I also remember feeling in myself the same emotions it looks like he was going through at the time. Out of control but peaceful about it.

    Thanks so much for sharing that man.


  9. I think for me, it's enough to say that he is one of the only musicians who emerged from the CCM scene that I still listen to.

    Him and Derek Webb. And its weird because I grew up in an Urban setting, so all the music I listened to was music like Tupac Shakur, cause he was one of the few things I could relate to--seeing a lot of what I saw growing up. Yet, Rich Mullins found his way to speak to me in a way that no other Christian artist ever has...

    "It's so hot inside my soul, I swear there must be blisters on my heart."

    I can't think of a better way to describe times of isolation and fear.

  10. When I heard the news of Rich Mullins's death it grieved me in much the same way that Keith Green's death did years earlier. Such a loss for us as this musician/prophet stepped into eternity. When I hear his music, I'm reminded of what lies ahead for me.

  11. hey, if I'm only good for one thing, it's trivial details about caedmon's call and derek webb.

  12. One of my favorite birthday presents ever was my wife getting me tickets to the concert at Univ. of Portland.

    When I was returning back to God Rich Mullins' music was my soundtrack. His honesty about life and faith as much as the beauty of the words he wrote continue to inspire me. I used to think I was the older brother in the story of the prodigal son; I remember I am Growing Young, that I have a Father still waiting and watching down the road for me.