One was being recipients of the benefit of the major amount of media attention which was given to Calvary Chapel in the early days of what was to become known as the Jesus movement. Calvary Chapel became THE place for the media to come to get sound bites, photographs, and interviews.
The second was the released of our first album, and the third was our participation in an event called "Explo '72", in Dallas TX.
My memory is a bit hazy regarding this event, and I don't actually remember how we even came to be invited. I suppose there was considerable buzz about our group playing at Calvary Chapel, and someone felt it would be exciting to invite some of the more contemporary groups to this event.
We drove all the way to Dallas, not having the clout yet to demand to fly, nor even the sophistication to think to ask. We just regarded ourselves as servants of God, and drive or fly, if He sent us we would go. I remember we took along a friend named Dan Agulian to film our travels and participation in this event. Dan was a little more than an amateur filmmaker, and had some pretty good equipment for that day.We were filming mostly for the fun of it, but had plans to use some of the footage later in some sort of documentary context if possible. This footage has never been seen by us or the public. I understand it still exists somewhere in Southern California, and it would be wonderful to be able to see it someday.
Again, I do not remember how many days we were actually there, but the first big event was our performance in the Cotton Bowl on the first evening. Billy Graham was to preach that night, and a number of groups played and sang. I do not remember the length of our set, but do remember that we played our song "A Love Song". We did an extended instrumental as the idea had come up to have someone recite the "love chapter" from 1 Cor. 13. The audience that night was estimated to be 100,000 people, and though I felt our performance was a bit shaky, they seemed to really enjoy it. I think we all sensed how historic it was that a "rock" group was even invited to such an event. It may well have been the first time that this music had been exposed to this large of an audience. I do remember that it was quite a "rush" to play before such a large group for the Lord. It was also a thrill to meet Billy Graham and hear him preach in person.
Next day the event was to be held at some public parkway outdoors. I don't remember exactly where that was, but reportedly 250,000 people had gathered for that days event. Billy Graham was again to preach, and among the musical guests that day were Kris Kristofferson and Rita Coolidge. I remember that things went seriously overtime, and was scheduled to be over by sometime in the early evening, I believe about 6:00. There was some talk of bumping us from the bill, and several people in the administration were distressed by that, because they felt that it was very important that we played. But Billy Graham had not preached yet, and ultimately we did not appear that day.
A side note: it is with some sadness that I recount the following. At this time I myself was a newly born-again Christian, and I remember my shock at being backstage with Kris Kristofferson and and his group. The place was filled with cigarette smoke, and many were using profane language. Kris was being touted as a new convert himself, and in my opinion, being paraded before the body of Christ as a trophy; as I believe is often done,another celebrity who had supposedly turned his life over to Jesus. I remember that Kris got on stage before all these people, and giving the peace sign said "Peace on you, brother". We all knew the pun was intended, and it was quite shocking for me to witness all this. It was one of my first memories of being disillusioned by the conduct of supposed Christians.
The next day an impromptu performance was set up a local park, Lee Park , where ourselves and Larry Norman were to perform. This was not a part of the official event, but was set up by some people who were probably distressed that we had not been able to appear on the event the day before. The attendance was much smaller, comprised I'm sure mostly of people who were interested in this new expression of music, but were not really the mainstream audience.
I remember that we sold our first album those three days right out of our vehicle. I seem to recall that there was some reason we could not sell in a public forum, but do not recall what that reason was. It felt like black market stuff, but we were still very excited to get our album into the hands of the people who we knew would appreciate it.
I remember thinking that I really did not realize that Explo ’72 would be as huge as it turned out to be, and that night in the Cotton Bowl was truly a mind blowing experience. It may have been the largest audience that I or any of the guys had ever played for. The impact was more significant than we even imagined, and after returning home the invitations to play increased exponentially. Soon after, our album sales started to explode, as well as our visibility. It can truly be said that "Explo '72" was a milestone in our ministry, and one of the turning point events in our popularity. Chuck Girard (Jan 1998)