Dana Key Passes Away (1953-2010)

Degarmo & Key Band | This Time Thru | 1978         Degarmo & Key Band | Straight On | 1979

Christian musician, Dana Key, died yesterday (June 6, 2010) from a ruptured blood clot (CT). He was 56 years old. Dana Key was the guitarist and main vocalist for DeGarmo & Key, an early Christian rock band that Dana formed with keyboardist Ed DeGarmo. More recently Dana was senior pastor for TLC Community Church in Memphis, TN where he and Ed grew up.

Dana KeyI first saw Degarmo & Key back in 1979. They were performing in a local Jr. High School. I had never heard of them before, but went with a friend to check them out. What a concert! They had the two albums pictured above for sale, and I purchased them both during intermission. Later albums didn’t grab me as much, but I always loved Dana’s bold guitar playing, his clear witness for Christ, and his gritty, authentic voice.

(Here’s the first track from Degarmo & Key’s first album, This Time Thru.)
Click “►” button to play | Length: 3:08

So many of those early Christian musicans have now gone on to be with the Lord: Keith Green, Mark Heard, Larry Norman, Tom Howard, and now Dana Key as well. These musicians all had a positive impact on my growth as a young Christian. I appreciate their ministry, and I still enjoy their music after all these years, too!

Related posts:
    • Tom Howard Passes Away (1950-2010)
    • Larry Norman Passes Away (1947-2008)


  1. Mike from NY says:

    Thank you for noting the passing of Dana Key. He also impacted my life as did Degarmo.

    Mike Z

  2. Ray Fowler says:

    Thanks for sharing, Mike.

  3. John Peters says:

    When Straight On came out, I was floored. To me it was hands down one of the best Southern Rock Christian albums of all time. To this day, it is still a Classic all time great. These two through their music helped me a lot in post-hippiedom exit.

    It was hard, because they demonstrated the excellence of Christ via the lyrics as well as the music. It was better than any secular offering; but, many didn’t go for it due to the words and rejection of the message. As Christ said “They will hate you because of me” and indeed as a new Christian at the time there was plenty of that being directed at me when trying to play this type of music to bring others in.

    Still, many Thanks needs to go out to these folks for what they did and how their offering provided life giving threads to those just barely hanging on.

    The good news is that we will get to meet Dana when we all gather for the great banquet being prepared for us…I will have to meet him then and thank him for his work.

  4. Ray Fowler says:

    John – I agree. This album was amazing when it came out and still stands up pretty well.

  5. Randy says:

    Call me out of touch but I can’t believe I’m just today hearing of Dana Key’s passing. I was interested in hearing that he was a church pastor. Man would those be some great sermons! Any idea if his sermons were recorded? The would be interesting, and Im sure, inspiring to hear.

    I’ll never forget a D&K concert in Tulsa at the Mabee Center, I think with Amy Grant. They were recording there and I believe in OKC for the live album, No Turning Back. Dana was spotted alone center stage on a stool doing the acoustic beginning of Mary. When it got to the crescendo near the end he totally messed it all up and didn’t know whether to laugh or kick his guitar. I don’t know if he played the wrong chords, slipped off the bench or what. The audience laughed and applauded and earned him to do it again but he refused and went on to the next song. Mary made it on the album so he must have done better the next night. 😉

    I’m also grateful for being able to see D&K and Rez Band at a more intimate setting, an old high school auditorium also in Tulsa. Wow, won’t heaven be great when we have eternity to talk with all the saints who influenced our walk with Christ, all to glorify Him.

    Thanks for your post John, and for leaving it open for stragglers like me. 😉

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