Charles Norman: Talking about Larry Norman and the Fallen Angel documentary

Friday 1st June 2012

Mike Rimmer interviewed CHARLES NORMAN back in 2010 about the controversial Fallen Angel documentary

Charles Norman
Charles Norman

Charles Norman is a hugely experienced rock guitarist who down the years has played with his fair share of luminaries and once ran the band Guards Of Metropolis. But in Charles' work down the decades with his brother, the late Christian rock pioneer Larry Norman, which has generated the most interest among Cross Rhythms readers. Since Larry's death on 24th February 2008 a controversy has raged on the internet about Larry, much of it initiated with the release in 2008 of the documentary film Fallen Angel: The Outlaw Larry Norman made by David Di Sabatino. The film included many interviews with figures close to Larry Norman including his first wife Pamela Newman, Randy Stonehill, Terry Scott Taylor (of Daniel Amos) and Philip Mangano, the business manager of Solid Rock, the record label initiated by Larry and which Charles now runs. One reviewer said Fallen Angel depicted Norman as Machiavellian, particularly in his dealings with artists while the interview with Jennifer Wallace (nee Robinson) asserted that Norman had fathered a child with Wallace duirng a tour of Australia she had organised in 1988. Since Fallen Angel's DVD release a website countering many of Fallen Angel's assetions has been set up (www.failedangle.com) to question the integrity and conclusions of the documentary.

On 1st June 2010 Charles Norman was interviewed by Mike Rimmer for Cross Rhythms radio about Fallen Angel and the Failed Angle website. Cross Rhythms held off publishing this interview awaiting the publication of at least one of the three books currently being written about Larry. However, with seemingly none appearing in the near future we've decided to put Mike's intriguing conversation with Larry's brother onto our site.

Mike: You published a website to refute claims made by the documentary Fallen Angel.

Charles: I didn't actually make it. It's a guy named Allen Flemming, who's writing a biography about Larry. He knew Larry for years, has known my family, and he was incensed that this film was telling untruthful things about Larry, so he said, 'Could I go through the archives and find evidence that combats this film?' We said, 'Sure'. So he came up from California, went through about a quarter of the archives, and found tons and tons of evidence which refute this movie. It's already up; it's failedangle.com, and there's a lot of documentation there - scans, letters, writings by the very people who are accusing Larry of certain things in the movies. So it's an interesting work in progress, and I enjoy reading it.

Mike: It seems Larry was like Richard Nixon, recording everything.

Charles: Well, he didn't record everything, but when he had staff meetings at Solid Rock he did record them. When you have 10 artists in a room, it's good to have everything recorded. He didn't record everyday telephone calls, but anything that was important that needed to have a paper-trail - or a tape-trail, if you will - he recorded. I think a lot of these people at Solid Rock have forgotten that Larry recorded these meetings, because they're claiming certain things I have on tape that prove what they're saying isn't true. That is all going to come out. Allen Fleming is going to putting those on the Failed Angle website soon.

Mike: The film is flattering about Larry's music, but interviews with people he worked with claim he treated them badly from a business perspective.

Charles: In the movie there's Randy Stonehill, and a couple of guys from the band Daniel Amos. There are other people from the band Daniel Amos, particularly Alex McDougal, who was the percussion player, who remained friends with Larry Norman up until his death - came to the funeral, came here to the house. He saw a different side of him than Terry Taylor from Daniel Amos, because Alex went on to be a bigwig in the Christian music industry, working at record labels. He realised that this is how record labels are, and every artist has a gripe. When their careers go south, or don't happen, who do you blame? Certainly not yourself. You blame the record company. They didn't sell enough records, or they're not paying me royalties that I'm sure must be out there somewhere.

Mike: There's an assertion in the film that Larry held back people's careers - particularly Daniel Amos.

Charles: How would you do that? I should have Allen put up that tape. What actually happened is 'Horrendous Disc' - the infamous album that didn't come out - was supposed to come out in August of 1980, but the Daniel Amos guys decided they wanted a secular career, try and sign to Warner Bros, so Larry let them out of their contract. He said, 'You're not confined to working with Solid Rock. You're free to go.' Daniel Amos said, 'We want our album back too', and Larry said, 'Word Records has already paid for that album. Word owns that album, and so do I. I'll give up, but I can't speak on Word Records' behalf. You're free to go: I'm letting you out of a contract that you're bound to me for seven years. But you can't just take the furniture when you exit the building. You can't take your record.' So Daniel Amos started hassling Larry with lawyers; I've got all the letters from lawyers. Larry never even got a lawyer. He would just respond to their lawyers, and say, 'When you're done messing around, I'll put out the album. But if you keep on harassing me legally, I'm just going to sit on the album - and Word is happy to do that.' As soon as they quit harassing Larry, made some agreement with Larry, then Larry put out the album. It was a couple years later, and that was largely Daniel Amos' own fault. It would've been nowhere near as late if Daniel Amos would've just gone ahead and honoured what their contract with Larry was.

Mike: There's a famous Solid Rock meeting in the film, where it looks like people in the offices or the artists confronted Larry about his morals. Do you have a tape of that?

Charles: Yes, I do. That's what they say, and that did happen. This was all down to a guy who appears in the movie named Brad Durham. The movie talks about Larry's strange sleeping habits. Larry would sleep until noon, and stay up all night. Yeah, he did. So do I! Every musician I know keeps strange hours. What's not mentioned in the film is that Sarah Stonehill - Randy Stonehill's wife - was Larry's secretary, and had been for years. They all know that: she was there working in the building. Especially when Solid Rock was breaking up, he would go over to Sarah's house. It could be like one o'clock in the morning, or two o'clock, and they could be composing letters. Before the internet, he had to work hard with correspondence. A guy named Brad Durham went over to Sarah's house, saw Larry's car at the front, went and banged on the door. Sarah opened it, Larry was there, and they said, 'What?' He said, 'You think it's right that you're over here at Randy's wife's house when he's out on tour?' They were puzzled, like, 'Yeah, what's the problem here?' So he went and told everyone that Larry was spending the night at Sarah's house, him and his buddy, based on just that incident. They had what they call an intervention in the movie. Larry became upset, and said, 'How dare you accuse me of this?' Is that shocking that you make a false accusation of someone who'd said, 'I didn't do that! What are you talking about?' There's a lot of stuff hinted at, but since there's no proof and no real story, the filmmaker has decided to pad it out with innuendo. There was a meeting where they accused Larry of this, but there was another meeting that led to the breakup of Solid Rock. There were two different meetings, and I think the people of this movie are either combining those two meetings in their minds, or David Di Sabatino, the filmmaker, is just meshing those two meetings together. But I've got it all on tape; and that'll be coming out soon.

Mike: To be at a woman's house at that time does open yourself up to criticism.

Charles: I suppose it opens yourself up to criticism, but Los Angeles is a 24-hour town. You go out to restaurant at three in the morning in Hollywood and it's packed. I don't think it's unusual to go over to your secretary's house. Bobby Emmons, another artist signed to Solid Rock, or else maybe it was Steve Scott, was living with Sarah at one point; Bobby Emmons, when he was living in LA, would go out with Sarah all the time, and Sarah's mother. They would go out to baseballs games, go see movies, and he said, 'No, during that time Randy's accusing Larry of infidelity or something, I was there. They weren't dating, they were friends.' You could say that impropriety was suggested, but suggested by who?

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Reader Comments

Posted by Georgia in Connecticut @ 19:12 on Sep 5 2018

I'm sad to see "siblings" fighting, tattling, all that baby stuff. Artist get a bad rap for being self indulged for this very reason. I hope the person/peoples who made this film apologize to Larry's family and firstbto Jesus whose servant Larry was and purportedly they are. It's heartbreaking to see all this. What is grace in the face of all this?



Posted by StevenX in Pacific Beach @ 14:47 on May 18 2018

Wow. How often do you get the chance to stumble onto a cult page?



Posted by Ben Coonen in Huntington Beach, CA @ 05:06 on Aug 8 2017

I have yet to see the movie. I want to be thankful for each believer in Christ, including Larry Norman who has been such a blessing to me with his music and Randy Stonehill, also a wonderful testimony to God's grace through his life and music, and those also who put this film together.

Although, I will remain open to hear what ever is put out there, just having the term "Fallen Angel" connected to the title I have clear missgivings over. Fallen Angels would include Lucifer and those who followed him in rebellion against God. I don't believe there is redemption for them.

To link Larry Norman to such a status as that, I find highly suspect. I have read some of David DiSabatino's words. He suggests this movie is done for a just or noble cause.(

It's very hard for me to imagine that he knows for a fact that Larry Norman will not be redeemed. To color this "(so called) documentary in that language logically speaking would only be proper if it were accurate. If your motivation is that you are hard pressed to get the truth out, being inaccurate and being so flagrant by condemning in this manner baffles me, and casts doubt on the accuracy of the movie and the purity of his motives.

Is he making money off this documentary or are all the profits being donated?

If he has profited off of the movie than that would further raise my suspicions.



Posted by Mike Chivalette in Kansas @ 15:10 on Jul 27 2017

I grew up with the Jesus movement and first heard Larry Norman at Expo 72 in Dallas. I found his vinyl for $1.80 and trust me....the lyrics depict a person with a transformed life. God only knows the sins we hide from others but one thing is clear...those who made this documentary after his death are both cowardly and godless in their endeavor to promote their shameful ways. Matthew 18: 15-17 speaks clearly to this. God knew Larry's heart and I trust Larry knew Jesus as he proclaimed through his music.



Posted by Joe in Florida @ 16:06 on May 16 2017

The people that made this movie did it for no other reason than jealousy.

The truth is Larry Norman will probably go down as the most Famous and influential Christian Musician Ever.

The people on this documentary who are making claims that he committed "Sins" are laughable .. Jesus says he who is without Sin cast the first stone...so I guess they must be blameless in their own site but not Gods because Jealousy and slander are sins.

They go so far out of their way to throw stones at a Dead man all the while claiming it is for Christian purposes? Really... to do what? They are not fooling anyone.

It is clear they are so salty about the fact they never really gained the fame or had the impact on the world that Larry did. They have never let it go and harbor a really tremendous amount of jealousy.



Posted by Tim in Oklahoma @ 05:13 on Dec 24 2016

What was the purpose of the film? Revenge?

I find that when two people are telling two versions of the same story, the truth is usually somewhere in the middle or nowhere at all. That said, I have no allegiance to Larry Norman, Randy Stonehill, or anybody else featured in the film. I listened to Randy Stonehill back in the day but didn't become familiar with Larry Norman until the mid to late 90's. So my question remains; what in the world was the purpose of this movie?

As I sat and watched the film, I was certainly disappointed (though not entirely shocked) at the stories of Larry's actions, but I had an absolute pit in my stomach over the fact that a guy like Randy Stonehill (along with some of the others) would agree to sit down like that and take shots at the guy in interviews. This wasn't a calling to account. This was just gossip and revenge. I don't get that at all. ???



Posted by Ian Steward in Weston Super Mare Uk @ 19:03 on Sep 28 2016

I am so grateful to Larry Norman for his music and giving up a career of millions for his faith. Whilst being on the same bill as Joplin, The Doors, Hendrix etc he could of ,like all rock stars gone down the road of sex, drugs n rock n roll and make lots of money and no one would of thought anything of it. But instead he sang about Christ with creative rock, blues,and acoustic rock with creative song writing, only to receive rejection from the church as they thought rock n roll n long hair was evil and rejection from the world as they thought it was to 'christian' although respecting his talents. What he achieved is incredible considering those times in the early 70's. I was 14 years old when my sister brought home In Another Land, there were no record shops where I lived in a country village with cows n fields, there was no Christian music much good or relevent to the times to listen to. I must of played The Rock that doesnt roll , And why dont you look into Jesus of the record they blow me away, with scorching Jon Linn solos. I now play Rock that Doesnt Roll in a band im in in a selection of blues rock songs we play. I say to the sad critics of Larry Norman, he reached thousands of people with the gospel through creative rock.blues and songwriting,on his own stepping out, more than you ever will, when all you can do is make a sad film to make a few bucks out of, when you could of put that money into a film to spread the gospel as Larry Norman did through his music. And just in case you hav'nt read the Bible, The Lord said, He who is without sin cast the first stone. Larry Norman, I salute you



Posted by weather in nashville @ 12:26 on May 14 2016

I remember about 1992, finding a vinyl of Only Visiting this Planet in a Goodwill store in Springfield Oregon. Took it home, first song...."sipping whiskey from a paper cup...." it was magic to my ears, being a dead head now born again since 87, wow! Finally some christian music that had the vibe I wanted.
Larry could have been a majorly huge secular success. He was at the right place at the right time, but chose to serve Jesus with his artistry. I also know the many ways the demons work, to smear people thru resources of notariety. In the end, it will all be revealed who is who.
BTW, Charlie doesn't need a DNA because the accusers are not God judge and jury. I can't understand why people would be so enfactuated about the life of another. Do they not have a life of their own to live? How do they make the time for all of that of the past?



Posted by Craig Blann in Fort Madison Iowa @ 21:48 on Jan 9 2016

Look...I was a Larry Norman fan but I trust Randy and his wife Sarah. Randy has a genuine faith and I saw him in Concert and his faith and Spirit agreed with mine. When I saw Larry in concert I felt he was negative and felt a bad spirit with him. Something just didn't add up with him... just like this interview with Charles. God is the final judge but I hope for Larry's sake his faith was real and not fake!



Posted by Jim Walsh in Chicago @ 14:12 on Sep 28 2014

Naming someone in your will (Daniel) when it is patently false makes no sense at all. I don't care what their (Larry and Charles) assertions are re: legal implications. Also, Charles' reluctance to submit to DNA testing due to liability is very suspect. If you love your brother and want to settle this once and for all, it isn't worth it for you to sacrifice your limited exposure for him? I would sure do that for my brother.



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