Who was Keith Harrold?
Former ApologetiX drummer Keith Harrold passed away unexpectedly from a heart attack on August 16, 2018. He had just turned 62 less than a month before and is the first member of ApologetiX to go home to be with the Lord. We all loved him dearly.
Although his schedule never permitted him to be our full-time drummer, Keith was a bridge over troubled waters for ApX, filling in for us at various and numerous times from 1993-2000, when our regular drummers couldn't make it to a particular concert and after each of our first three full-time drummers (Jeff, Rick and Bob) left the band.
He often referred to himself as "the Chester Thompson of ApologetiX." Genesis fans like Keith himself should get the reference. In the years after 2000, Keith would occasionally come to ApX concerts, and we would often have him sit in for a song or two.
Keith played all the drums on our Isn't Wasn't Ain't CD (although it was only available on cassette back then) in 1993. He also played on three tracks on our Keep the Change CD in 2001: "Daniel," "Cheap Birds" and "The Ballad of Jesus & Yahweh."
ApX lead singer and lyricist J. Jackson shares his memories of Keith below:
"I had just texted with Keith on August 1, 2018, a week after his birthday. After we exchanged some good-natured banter, his last words to me were, 'Hey now. It's 'be kind to old guy' day!' That was typical Keith Harrold wit. He was a very funny guy, and fiercely loyal to his friends and the bands, churches, and companies he was a part of.
"I didn't see Keith as often as I would have liked in recent years, but I'm very grateful that I got to have a nice, long, sit-down talk with him and his wife, Linda, at the Haynie Christmas party in 2017. He also DJ'ed at the weddings of ApX daughters Julie Tanner and Sarah Haynie and was going to DJ at my daughter Janna's wedding.
"When I told Keith Haynie the news of Keith Harrold's passing he said, 'Someone needs to get his DNA and clone him. We need more like him, not less.' Yes, even before Keith Haynie joined us in 1995, there was another Keith H. in the band. And at a number of points in our first decade, our rhythm section was a double-shot of Keith H.
"I think Keith Harrold would appreciate that he graduated to glory on the same day as Aretha Franklin and on the anniversary of Elvis Presley's death — the King of Rock and Roll, the Queen of Soul, and the Prince of Contemporary Christian Music (CCM)."
An integral part of the Christian music scene for over 25 years, Keith was a national sales rep for Word Records, where he won numerous "National Sales Representative of the Year" awards. He was also a founding member of the New Beginning (a.k.a. "the New Beginning Band" and "the Newbs"), one of Western Pennsylvania's first and most popular Christian rock bands in the 1980's.
That band reunited as the Paradise Club Band from 1991-94, playing monthly concerts at the Paradise Club in Irwin, PA, the place where we played our first concert and built our fan base from 1992-94. And that's where we also first met Keith.
In addition to his drumming, Keith blessed us many times over the years with advice and guidance based on his knowledge of the Christian recording industry. We fondly recall one time in the early days when he had us all over to his house to talk about our future.
We also remember in 1999 when he told us he felt we were ready to start playing at the big Christian music festivals. That was right after we played Q-Fest in Rockford IL (another one of the many concerts he played with us) and wound up on the front page of the Rockford Register Star newspaper. "This changes everything," he said.
The same thing could have been said the day Keith was born. He changed all of our lives for the better, and we thank God for the years He gave him to us as a friend and a bandmate.
J. continues: "After we received the shocking news about Keith's passing, my wife and I made plans in advance to meet ApX bassist Keith Haynie and his family at the funeral home in Greensburg PA for the Sunday afternoon visitation. When we arrived, the lot was already full and the side streets were crowded with cars.
"Former ApX members Fred Behanna and Karl Messner each also arrived at about the same time, so we were all in line together. That line stretched out into the parking lot! There were so many people there to pay their respects that it took 1.5 hours until we were able to speak to Keith Harrold's wife, Linda, and their kids.
"'I lost my buddy,' Linda said to me, as I gave her a hug. Keith Harrold was everybody's buddy, but none more so than his beloved wife. They'd been happily married for so many years. If I recall correctly from my conversations with Keith, they met in high school.
"Keith and Linda had three children, who were all adults by the time he passed: Rachel, Phil, and Steve. He also had a son-in-law, Blake, and a grandson, Chase. Keith was a friend in need and a friend indeed, and we miss him dearly. We can only imagine how much they miss him.
"The first viewing was supposed to be from 2-4 p.m., but the line was still going at 5:15 p.m. They had closed the outside door at 4 p.m., like they do when a bank closes at 4 p.m. but still has to finish with people who are already inside. The funeral home had never seen anything like it."
"Jimmy 'Vegas' Tanner and his wife, Eve went to the evening viewing, and they said they *only* had to wait 45 minutes! What an outpouring of love and respect for our friend Keith Harrold!
"The Haynie family and I attended the funeral on Monday at Word of Life Ministries in Greensburg PA. Six family members and friends gave eulogies, and each was tremendously touching. Then they announced that somebody was going to come up and sing. It was Amy Grant! We couldn't believe it.
"While playing acoustic guitar, Amy sang 'Somewhere Down the Road' and 'Thy Word.' Her pianist was also in attendance and accompanied her. She introduced the songs by saying, "Keith was a sales representative for Word Records for 25 years, so his family inherited me."
"I was aware that Keith knew her (and many other famous people in Christian music). Over the years, I'd asked him more than once who was the nicest and most sincere person he'd ever met in Christian music, and he always said Amy. She came to the cemetery for the burial, too.
"Linda told me she'd found out the previous Friday that Amy would be coming and that Amy thanked her after the service for letting her be a part of things. I said, 'Keith always told me how sincere she was,' and Linda said, 'Yes, she's the real deal.'
"Keith's pastor, Pastor Frank Audia of CityReach Church Westmoreland, gave a phenomenal message -- very funny (because Keith loved humor) and very heartfelt (because Pastor Frank knew Keith very well). There was no drop-off after Amy finished and he took over. He gave an every-eye-open invitation at the end, and a number of people raised their hands to receive Christ.
"Everybody loved Keith. Very funny, very friendly, and very knowledgeable about all kinds of music. Always joking and kidding around. One of the eulogizers said they complained to Keith once about using the same jokes over and over, and Keith said, 'You don't need to keep finding new jokes; you just need to keep finding new audiences.'
"In fact, as I was answering a condolences email from one of our fans, I typed 'thanks for your sympathy,' and I remembered how Keith used to say that line as a joke when I'd pay him a compliment about something. So, thank you all for your sympathy. I can't think of a better send-off for Keith. I only wish it hadn't been so soon.
Keith Haynie's wife, Krista, who used to travel with us on band trips, also shared these memories of Keith:
"So sad for us, So happy for Keith Harrold. The original good guy. His humor was quick and endearing.
"In the early days of ApologetiX, half of us squeezed into our tiny minivan with no room to stretch out. Keith wanted to stretch out so bad that he wiggled himself between the top of our merchandise boxes and equipment with about one-inch clearance from the ceiling of the van and rode home from the Midwest like that.
"He never complained. He made up a song called 'Linda on My Mind' and sang it over and over.
"Another time we were traveling and only could get one hotel room. J. and Karl were in one bed; my husband, Keith Haynie, and I were in the other bed; and Keith Harrold slept on the floor. He never complained. What a good guy. What a great man.
"When I talked to him a few weeks ago, he was sorry he couldn't make it over to a picnic at our house, but cleared his schedule so he would be able to make it to our daughter Sarah's upcoming baby shower picnic. He brought joy to everyone."