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Top 10 Rockers Who Found God

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Shyne gets his hair cut in a barber shop in the Orthodox Jewish neighborhood of Mea Sharim in Jerusalem, November 12, 2010.

The New York Times recently revealed that rapper Shyne has changed his name to Moses Levi and has been living as an Orthodox Jew in Jerusalem since his release from prison last year. Shyne has been interested in Judaism since he was 13, but it was only while he was in prison that he started studying with a rabbi and observing Jewish law. But he's only the most recent in a long line of musicians to change religions — and radically change their careers. Here's a look at 10 of them.


By Andy Greene

AP Photo/Zavi Cohen

Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan visits the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem on the day of his son's bar mitzvah, September 20, 1983.
No major rock star has ever undergone as radical a religious transformation as Bob Dylan. The man who once wrote "Don't follow leaders, Watch your parking meters" launched a tour in 1979 behind his gospel LP Slow Train Coming in which he didn't play any of his old songs. Between tunes he preached fire and brimstone. "I told you the 'The times They Are A-Changin' and they did!" he preached to the crowd one night in 1979. "I told you the answer was 'Blowin' In The Wind' and it was! And I'm saying to you now, Jesus us coming back and he is! There is no other way to salvation…Jesus is coming back to set up his kingdom in Jerusalem for a thousand years." By the mid-1980s the singer born Robert Allen Zimmerman had returned to his Jewish roots, no doubt making his mother a very happy woman.

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Arthur “Killer” Kane

Arthur Kane in 1982.

Around 20 years ago original New York dolls bassist Arthur "Killer" Kane was watching TV when the 1988 Bill Murray Christmas movie Scrooged came on. The sight of Dolls frontman David Johansen in a prominent role sent Kane into such a jealous rage that he beat his wife with cat furniture and then jumped out of a third story window, attempting to kill himself. Luckily, he landed on an awning and survived with minor injuries. While recuperating in the hospital he saw an ad for a free copy of the Book of Mormon. When a couple of beautiful young women personally brought it over, he was ready to convert. Within a few years the Mormon Church had completely transformed his life — he even worked at the church's Family History Library Center in Los Angeles. In 2004 his dream of a New York Dolls reunion finally came true, but just three weeks after their comeback show he died of leukemia.

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Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen was born to a Jewish family in Montreal in 1934, but for the last 30 years he's devoted most of his life to Buddhism — particularly the teachings of his Zen Master Joshu Sasaki Roshi. The religious conversion occurred in the 1970s when he was unable to find any cure for his near-crippling depression. In the mid 1990s Cohen abandoned his musical career and moved onto Mount Baldy near Los Angeles to be closer to Roshi. For years he'd wake up at 2:30 a.m. to meditate and prepare food for Roshi, who was in his 90s at the time. Cohen hasn't abandoned his beliefs, but he did leave Mount Baldy in the early 2000s when he discovered that his manager stole nearly all of his money during his time on the mountain. He's spent the last two years on a grueling world tour earning back his fortune. Sasaki is now 103 years old and still going strong — and still living atop Mount Baldy.

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Dave Mustaine

In 2002 Megadeth's Dave Mustaine became a born-again Christian, and for a time refused to tour with bands he deemed "satanic." "When I got saved there were certain things I didn't know," he writes in his new memoir Mustaine. "And it's like that old saying when you're cooking: 'When it doubt, leave it out.'" He's since softened that stance and has recently toured with Slayer. "I spent a lot of time as a new Christian trying to get comfortable in my new skin," Mustaine writes in his book. "There were times when it felt smooth and and right; there were times when it felt like I was suffocating. It wasn't until the summer of 2005 that I began to sense harmony between my spiritual and artistic lives."

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Brian “Head” Welch

When Korn guitarist Brian "Head" Welch found Jesus in 2005 he realized that continuing to play in the band just wasn't an option. The revelation followed years of addiction to Xanax, alcohol, meth-amphetamines and sleeping pills. "I really wanted God to take away my addiction to drugs," Welch has said. "I was like 'Jesus, if you're real, take away my addiction.' I felt Him come into my life, and that's when everything changed."

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Mark Farner

Grand Funk Railroad were one of the most successful rock bands of the 1970s, but when they stopped selling albums and tickets in the early 1980s frontman Mark Farner turned to Jesus and turned his life around. He angered some fans by re-recording Grand Funk's classic "Some Kind of Wonderful" with new spiritual lyrics in 1991, but they forgave him later in the decade when he reunited with the rest of Grand Funk for a triumphant tour. Today, the group tours without him, but he plays regularly as a solo act — performing a mix of Grand Funk classics and Christian rock tunes.

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Bushwick Bill

At just three and a half feet tall, The Geto Boys' Bushwick Bill is the shortest rapper to every have mainstream success. In May 1991 his 17-year-old girlfriend shot him in the eye, for reasons that have never really been explained. The incident only helped The Geto Boys, because their midget now had only one eye — reaping tons of press. But by the late 1990s The Geto Boys' fortunes had waned, and around that time Bushwick Bill turned to Jesus. He occasionally plays with the group, but Bill wants the next Geto Boys album to be Christian-themed. The other guys…not so much.

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Lou Gramm

In the late 1990s Foreigner frontman Lou Gramm suffered a benign brain tumor. In one of rock's most bizarre ironies, his first symptom was actually double vision. He emerged from the experience a changed man, and soon after quit Foreigner and embraced Jesus. When fans see his solo show they get a bizarre mix of Foreigner hits and Christian rock songs.


Jermaine Jackson

Jermaine Jackson with Sheikh Abdullah bin Hamad al-Khalifa in Bahrain, January 6, 2004.

Like his brothers, Jermaine Jackon was raised a devout Jehovah's Witness. A trip to Bahrain in 1989 changed that. "There I happened to meet some children and had a light chitchat with them," Jackson said in 1999. "I put certain questions to them and they flung at me their innocent queries. During the course of this interaction, they inquired about my religion. I told them, 'I am a Christian.' I asked them, as to what was their religion? A wave of serenity took over them. They replied in one voice 'Islam.' Their enthusiastic answer really shook me from within."He's been a devout Muslim ever since, though he's been unable to convert any members of his family.

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Cat Stevens

Yusuf Islam, formerly Cat Stevens, visits London's Central Mosque, September 21, 2001.

Cat Stevens was near the height of his career when he nearly drowned off the coast of Malibu in 1976. After shouting for God to save him, a wave washed him ashore. Soon afterwards his brother gave him a copy of the Qur'an, and he became a devout Muslim. Stevens changed his name to Yusuf Islam and completely abandoned his music career. He was largely off the cultural radar until 1989, when he reportedly endorsed the fatwa against Salman Rushdie. He later vehemently denied the charges, but the accusations have severely damaged his reputation every since. In 2006 he returned to secular music and even performed a handful of concerts.


By   Andy Greene

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