Crouch’s family announced the music legend, 72, died Thursday at 4:30 p.m. at Northridge Hospital Medical Center near Los Angeles after suffering a heart attack Saturday.
His illness forced the cancellation of his Let the Church Say Amen Celebration tour, which had been scheduled to begin Dec. 6 in Philadelphia.
“Andrae was all about joy,” wrote former Billboard gospel music editor Robert Darden in a Christianity Today tribute. “The joy of his salvation and the joy of creation. His prodigious gifts challenged and transformed an industry.”
His twin sister, Sandra Crouch, a pastor and vocal artist in her own right, issued a statement.
“Today my twin brother, womb-mate and best friend went home to be with the Lord,” she said. “Please keep me, my family and our church family in your prayers. I tried to keep him here but God loved him best.”
Stephen Strang, the editor of Charisma magazine, recalled interviewing Crouch in the 1970s as a reporter for the Orlando Sentinel.
“His impact on Gospel music cannot overestimated. He was a crossover artist who made the black Gospel music sound part of contemporary Christian music mainstream,” Strang wrote.
Darden, now a professor at Baylor University, said Andrae Crouch was “an innovator, a path-finder, a precursor in an industry noted for its conservative, often derivative approach to popular music.”
“He combined gospel and rock, flavored it with jazz and calypso as the mood struck him and the song called for it, and is even one of the founders of what is now called ‘praise and worship’ music. He took risks with his art and was very, very funky when he wanted to be.
“Amy Grant may have made CCM popular; Andrae made it sound great.”
Among his many notable songs were “The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power,” “My Tribute (To God Be the Glory)” and “Soon and Very Soon,” a song sung at Michael Jackson’s public memorial service.
Darden noted Crouch was criticized by many Christians for his crossover into the secular world, in effect, combining Saturday night with Sunday morning.
The criticism from the church sometimes hurt, Darden wrote, “but he soldiered on.”
Elvis Presley recorded Crouch’s “I’ve Got Confidence” and Paul Simon recorded his “Jesus Is the Answer.” Crouch’s gospel albums often featured guests such as Stevie Wonder, El DeBarge, Wilton Felder and Earth, Wind & Fire’s Philip Bailey.
Crouch’s numerous awards and honors included nine Grammy Awards, four GMA Dove Awards, and ASCAP, Billboard and NAACP Awards. In 2004, he became the only living gospel artist to have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
He was born July 1, 1942, in San Francisco along with his twin sister to Benjamin and Catherine Crouch. In his early years, his parents owned and operated a dry-cleaning business and a restaurant in the Compton area of Los Angeles. His parents also had a Christian ministry in hospitals and prisons and preached on the streets.
He started playing piano at services led by his father and wrote his first gospel song at the age of 14.
His first group, the Church of God in Christ Singers, was formed in 1960 along with future recording artist Billy Preston.
Andraé Crouch & the Disciples was formed in 1965, bringing a contemporary pop and R&B sound to gospel that appealed to both black and white audiences.
Strang said Crouch told a story of his father praying for him to receive the gift of music, and he learned to play the piano without ever having taken lessons.
When his father, a highly respected pastor in the Church of God in Christ denomination, died in 1993, Andrae took over as pastor along with his twin sister.
Strang said the church thrived under his leadership.
But Strang recalled his magazine covered the downs as well as the ups of Crouch’s life.
In 1982, police stopped Crouch in Los Angeles for an unspecified reason and found a vial of cocaine on him. In an interview with TodaysChristianMusic.com, Crouch said he had never done drugs, but he, nevertheless, was detained for 10 hours before posting bail.
Strang commented: “Whether his account of the situation was true or not, I know that Andrae had been going through a difficult part of his life and that instance was a real wake-up call for him to get things right.”
Strang noted he listens regularly to one of Crouch’s most recent albums, “Mighty Wind,” pointing to a song about coming home that reflects Crouch’s testimony of hard times.
“You may have some problems and life might be so confusing. But when you come home, God is gonna fix it for you,” the song goes.
As he listened to the song Friday, Strang said, “I could imagine that Jesus must have been saying to Andrae: “Come home. Please come home. The door is always open and the family is waiting. We’ve been waiting for you to come home.”
“Andrae Crouch is home with the Savior he loved and served so well.”