Memoirs of a Jesus Freak

Number 1

Here now is the first piece of Memoirs of a Jesus Freak, published by Earthen Vessel Publishing in 2016. I am doing this because of the attention the Jesus People Movement has garnered. I hope to present one segment after another over the years, yes there will be about 320 of these. All short.


Memoirs of a Jesus Freak

Second Edition


This book is again dedicated to the families of those involved in the leadership of the Jesus People Movement. Awakenings are not always pleasant; there is “collateral damage,” and that was cer­tainly the case with the JPM. While there is glory accrued to God, there is also tragedy. Why this happens is little understood, and there are no easy answers.

In my own case, I want to dedicate these memoirs to those who lived through them with me directly and personally, my former wife Roberta Kay Philpott, my oldest daughter Dawn Doreen LaRue, middle child Grace Marie Reed, and son Vernon Robert Philpott.


What began as a simple personal story of my involvement in the Jesus People Movement morphed into something much larger. Friends encouraged me to include biographies of those men­tioned in the memoirs, and what I thought would be perhaps a dozen or so swelled to thirty-five at last count. Thanks to all of you who took the time and effort to compile a bio and find old photos. This is not something easily done, because it forces the writer to talk about dif­ficult realities.

For Stephanie Adams who collected and wrote many of the biog­raphies, we owe a great deal. Some bios she compiled by means of internet sites, some were submitted to her via email, and others she collected in direct contact via the telephone. Many bio submissions required revisions along the way (some by the named subjects them­selves), and Stephanie handled them with aplomb.

My own thinking about the Jesus People Movement started with two visits by Larry Eskridge, the first seven years ago and the second, two years later, when we talked about the JPM. Larry’s book, God’s Forever Family: The Jesus People Movement in America, published by Oxford University press in 2013, stirred up a great deal of interest in the movement. Larry also contributed a foreword to these memoirs, for which I am very grateful.

To Michelle Shelfer, gifted with many talents, one of which is catching the smallest grammatical or spelling flaw—thank you.

For Katie, my wife, who is the editor, cover designer, format maker, constructive critic, and prime mover and shaker of Earthen Vessel Publishing—thank you very much.

If you are wondering about the photos on the front cover, here are the answers:

The background is a camera photo of one page of the manuscript for Two Brothers in Haight, an unpublished book that I co-wrote with David Hoyt (and plan to publish later this year). More than any other character in this book, David deserves an extra amount of thanks for contributions over several years—stories, photos, and discus­sions about our times together on the streets of the Haight-Ashbury, throughout the Bay Area of San Francisco, the East Coast of the U.S., and over the “pond” to England and Europe.

The group photo is one of Joyful Noise performing in 1971 at San Quentin State Prison in Marin County, California. We changed person­nel often during the band’s tenure, and I no longer remember every name. We had great fun bringing a folk-like brand of Christian music to audiences around the country. I describe more of our escapades in chapter 15. Suffice it to say, I wish I could thank each member of the band for making such a joyful noise amidst the adventure that was the Jesus People Movement.

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