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I just became aware of one of the great moments in music history. On May 1st, 1986, two music legends became entangled in the delicate business of admiration for one another and self-promotion. In 1986, Rich Mullins was an upstart singer-songwriter with a solo career. Amy Grant had recorded one of his songs (Sing Your Praise to the Lord) in 1981 but his own career as an artist had not yet taken off. So, in 1986, Rich Mullins decided to write a letter to Steve Taylor. At the time, Steve Taylor was a rising star in the Christian Music industry. His album, Meltdown was released in 1984 and the title track, "Meltdown (at Madame Tussauds)" was played on MTV. By 1986, Taylor had received a Grammy nomination and had released the album, On the Fritz.
Mullins looked to Taylor as someone whose approval meant much and so he decided to catch his attention. The letter he wrote tells us something about Mullins’ personality, humor, and desire to succeed in the music business. Here is what he wrote:
Steve Taylor –
There is some clumsiness in giving someone a tape of yourself. It’s like saying to them “listen to me because I want you to like me” and so then you get stuck with the chore of responding under conscription. Sorry. But, here’s my tape anyway.
I will do you this favor that I will tell you that I have appreciated your stuff before you ask. Ok – so it may be presumpuous (sic) of me to think that you have any concern about how I feel or what I think about your music – but as an artist I know that it is good to hear an encouraging word from just about anybody. So just think of it like that because that’s how it is. And if it lets you off the hook any, I gave another tape to a security guard and I hope he likes it too.
Thank you for being someone whose approval means much. It is good that you are in this world.
I wish I knew what Steve Taylor did with the tape he received from Rich Mullins. Perhaps I will be able to sleuth out some more details and post them in a future blog. Yet, simply as this letter stands, it represents a great moment in music history.