John Lawry (born June 15, 1950; age 71) is an American musician, songwriter, recording engineer, producer, and keyboardist. He was the keyboardist of Petra from 1984 to 1994. From 2010 to 2012, Lawry reunited with Bob Hartman and other former members of the band to perform under the name of Classic Petra. After that, he rejoined Hartman and Schlitt as a current member of Petra.
John Lawry was born on June 15, 1950 in Japan. He was abandoned in the street as a baby and taken by missionaries to a mission home in the city of Sasebo. When he was 6 years old, Lawry was adopted by an American family, and grew up in Millington, Michigan. He has two siblings, also adopted.
Lawry showed skills for music from an early age, learning to play the accordion when he was 9 years old. As a teenager, he was involved in the school band of Millington High School. During that time, Lawry played keyboards, the trumpet, the euphonium, and the guitar.
After graduating high school, Lawry contributed to several musical projects in the Michigan area. However, after having what he refers to as a "major moment with God", he dedicated mostly to Christian music. In 1982, he joined the Joe English Band, recording three albums with them. He also recorded with the band Forerunner. During his time with Joe English, Lawry met and played with Bob Hartman several times.
In 1984, after John Slick's departure, Lawry was asked to fill in during some Petra shows. Eventually, he was asked to join the band. Since he was still under contract with Joe English Band, he asked for time to fulfill his obligations, after which he joined Petra. According to Lawry:
"I was under contract with Joe, so I talked to him and prayed 'Lord, if this is where you want me, keep the door open'. He did. I talked to Joe, he was excited for me because Petra's career was going forward, and Joe's at that time wasn't."
Lawry joined the band during the recording of the album Beat the System. Although the keyboards had already been recorded, Lawry did add some overdubs and effects to it. After that, Lawry went on tour with the band, during which they recorded the album Captured in Time and Space, released in 1986. Lawry is featured prominently in it due to his solo performance which became a trademark of his.
Lawry remained with the band for a total of 10 years, recording nine albums. During his time with the band, Petra reached what most people consider to be their peak, earning several Grammy Awards, as well as commercial success. Aside of playing keyboards, Lawry provided background vocals, arrangements, computer programming, and other skills. He also co-wrote several songs. In 1989, he and Hartman co-produced Petra's first praise album, Petra Praise: The Rock Cries Out.
In 1994, Lawry decided to leave the band to dedicate more time to his family, while also pursuing a career in producing and recording. He was replaced by his keyboard technician Jim Cooper.
Lawry has collaborated on several of Greg X. Volz solo albums, both playing keyboards, as well as recording. He also released two solo albums: Media Alert (1990) and Excursions (1997). He has also collaborated with John Schlitt in several projects, including playing with the Jay Sekulow Band during 2013.
Aside of that, Lawry has engineered, edited, and mixed albums for various Christian artists like Sonicflood, Take 6, and Whitecross, as well as secular artists like Backstreet Boys.
Reunited with Petra
In 2005, Lawry was invited to re-join Petra for the recording of their final live album, Petra Farewell. Lawry joined the band on stage at the middle of the show and performed a couple of songs with the band, including his trademark solo ("Jesus Loves You").
In 2010, Lawry reunited with Bob Hartman and former Petra members Greg X. Volz, Mark Kelly, and Louie Weaver to perform under the name of Classic Petra. The band released an album titled Back to the Rock that year, which was produced by Lawry. The next year, they released a live version of the album. Lawry was in charge of producing and recording both albums. Classic Petra toured North America and Europe from 2010 to 2012.
After his stint with Classic Petra, Lawry rejoined Hartman and Schlitt as a member of Petra around 2013. Since then, he has performed with the band in several concerts. In 2015, Lawry rejoined Schlitt, Hartman, Weaver, and Ronny Cates during a live performance in CCM United. The band played "I Am on the Rock".
John Lawry is married to Stefanie. They have two adopted sons: Jeremy and Nick.
- Beat the System (1984)
- Captured in Time and Space (1986)
- Back to the Street (1986)
- This Means War! (1987)
- On Fire! (1988)
- Petra Praise: The Rock Cries Out (1989)
- Beyond Belief (1990)
- Unseen Power (1991)
- Wake-Up Call (1993)
- Petra Farewell (2005) as guest musician
with Classic Petra
- Media Alert (1990)
- Excursions (1997)
John Lawry wrote or co-wrote the following Petra songs:
- "Shakin' the House" (1986) with Bob Hartman and John Elefante
- "Kenaniah" (1987) with Bob Hartman and Danny Kingen
- "Counsel Of The Holy" (1988) with Danny Kingen
- "Homeless Few" (1988) with Bob Hartman
- "In the Likeness of You" (1991) with John Elefante
- "Praying Man" (1993) with Jim Cooper