Independent Christian music lost another legend recently. Jimmy Hotz (inventor/producer/solo artist/band member/producer/engineer/electronic music pioneer/author/multi-instrumentalist–and we’re not even exaggerating) died in June. Hotz first recorded in CCM in the 1970s with the group Dove, and then a handful of other mostly CCM artists before recording his solo album–and many would say his magnum opus–Beyond the Crystal Sea, released in 1980 on Oklahoma City-based Vision Records. Fortunately for fans, Born Twice (a division of Retroactive/Boone’s Overstock) re-issued the album in 2010.
Hotz wasn’t content to release one of the greatest Christian rock albums of all time (this claim is verifiable too, repeatedly making appearances in all-time lists from reputable sources like HM, CCM, and various others). He has also worked with mainstream artists like Fleetwood Mac, B.B. King, Steve Winwood, Dave Mason, Yes/Jon Anderson and many others.
Perhaps his most notable contribution to music lies in his pioneering spirit in regards to recording techniques and devices, and the way he influenced certain types of electronic music. Hotz has received 3 U.S. patents for innovations in devices and software and has recorded entire albums using only his own inventions as musical instruments. And as if that still was not enough, Jimmy also found his way as an expert in computer graphics. I honestly don’t know how one man had the time to do all of that!
But I guess I’ll mostly remember him as the guy who brought us that one stellar album. Beyond the Crystal Sea is a progressive/art rock masterpiece. It’s well thought out, literate, creative, and competently performed. R.I.P. Jimmy Hotz.