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Petra Biography

Home > Music > P > Petra > Biography

Birth Place: Fort Wayne, Indiana, US
Years Active: 1972–2006, 2010–present
Genres: Christian Rock, Country Rock

Petra is a music group regarded as a pioneer of the Christian rock and contemporary Christian music genres. Formed in 1972 by Bob Hartman, Greg Hough, Bill Glover and John DeGroff, the band took its name from the Greek word for "rock". Though formally disbanding in 2005, incarnations of Petra have played reunion shows in the years since and plan an album in fall 2010.

With a style initially similar to The Eagles and Lynyrd Skynyrd, Petra's sound evolved into a more energetic, driving rock sound in the early 1980s akin to Foreigner, Styx and Journey. Throughout the 1980s and into early 1990s, Petra was undoubtedly the world's most popular Christian rock band, with each of its albums during that period selling hundreds of thousands of copies while the band sold out arenas and regularly placed songs at the top of the Christian radio charts. With its music and style, Petra influenced numerous other artists at a time when Christian rock experienced strong opposition from many conservative pastors and churches.

In more than three decades, the band experienced numerous lineup changes yet released 20 studio albums, as well as two Spanish-language and two live albums, selling nearly 10 million copies while being nominated for 13 Grammy Awards, winning four, and winning 10 Dove Awards. Its biggest hit, "The Coloring Song," reached the top position on three Christian radio charts simultaneously, and at its peak, the band's tours rivaled Amy Grant's in popularity among Christian audiences. Petra was the first rock band inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame and the first Christian band whose memorabilia was included in the Hard Rock Cafe restaurant chain.

The band announced its retirement in 2005, launching a farewell tour that was recorded for release on CD and DVD. Petra's 33-year career ended with a performance in the early hours of Jan. 1, 2006 in Murphy, North Carolina. Band members subsequently reunited for single concerts in 2007 and 2010, and Hartman and longtime vocalist John Schlitt released an album under the name II Guys From Petra in 2007.

In May 2010, a reincarnation of the band's 1984-85 lineup — Hartman, vocalist Greg X. Volz, bassist Mark Kelly, keyboardist John Lawry and drummer Louie Weaver — announced it would release a CD featuring new material and re-recordings of hits from that era, with a tour in support of the album in the fall.