Norman Greenbaum, best known for his hit song “Spirit in the Sky” is in critical condition after a fatal car crash that killed one person. The singer-songwriter was taking a drive with sixty-three year old, Bonita Kay Perea near Santa Rosa, California on Saturday, when she failed to yield as motorcyclisit Ihab Usama Halaweh was turning. Halaweh who was “evidently unable to slow or stop in time to avoid a collision with the Subaru,” struck the right side of Perea’s 2002 Subaru Outback leaving his passenger, twenty year old Nhmia Mekonnen Kahsay, and Greenbaum in critical condition; Halaweh was killed. Both Kahsay and Greenbaum were transported to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, where no further updates about the musician’s condition are being released due to the family’s request for privacy.
Greenbaum, a self-proclaimed one-hit wonder, is said to have written “Spirit in the Sky” in fifteen minutes, and while at first he said that the song was written after seeing Dolly Parton and Porter Wagoner sing religious songs on television, he later claimed the inspiration was actually his love of Westerns. “If you ask me what I based ‘Spirit in the Sky’ on … what did we grow up watching? Westerns! These mean and nasty varmints get shot and they wanted to die with their boots on. So to me that was spiritual, they wanted to die with their boots on… It wasn’t like a Christian song of praise it was just a simple song. I had to use Christianity because I had to use something. But more important it wasn’t the Jesus part, it was the spirit in the sky. Funny enough … I wanted to die with my boots on.” “Spirit in the Sky” has went on to sell over two million copies and has been used in several films, advertisements, and television shows.
While he is most notably known for “Spirit in the Sky,” even describing himself as a one-hit wonder on Twitter, he recorded three other albums, each placing in prominent positions on the charts. In 1969, under the name Dr. West’s Medicine Show and Junk Band, he recorded the album Norman Greenbaum with Dr. West’s Medicine Show and Junk Band. The album included the novelty hit, “The Eggplant that Ate Chicago,” which reached number fifty-two on Billboard Hot 100.
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