He died of heart failure Sunday at his home in Salem, said his brother, Charles Norman.

Norman earned his biggest commercial hit as the lead singer of the folk-rock band People! The band’s cover version of song “I Love You” was an international hit and peaked at No. 7 in June 1968.

Norman left the band on the day its debut album was released, when some members began experimenting with Scientology.

Though Norman never again hit the top 10, his solo career proved durable and influential.

Norman’s first solo record _ the 1969 release “Upon This Rock” – is considered the first Christian rock album. He later started his own independent label, recording additional solo albums while discovering other Christian artists. It all led to him being dubbed the “father of Christian rock.”

Larry Norman was born April 8, 1947, in Corpus Christi, Texas. His family moved to San Francisco when Norman was young and he developed an interest in the music of Elvis Presley.

He accompanied his father on Christian missions to prisons and hospitals, and was inspired to write rock songs that included spiritual messages, Charles Norman said.

Charles Norman said his brother practiced what he preached, even stopping taxi rides while on tour to help homeless people.

Norman was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 2001, and cover versions of his songs have been recorded by artists ranging from Petula Clark and Sammy Davis Jr. to DC Talk and Rebecca St. James.

At the time of his death, Norman was working on an album with Modest Mouse singer Isaac Brock and former Pixies singer Frank Black, who cites Norman as a major influence.