Rock Musician Dave Scott-Morgan started his career as a member of the popular 1960‘s cult rock group The Ugly’s. He wrote a number one hit with his song ‘Something’ – the flip side of The Move’s ‘Blackberry Way’ in 1968. In the seventies and eighties he wrote the score for two films, and performed on some of the world’s biggest stages as a member of ELO. But it was on the small stage of a pentecostal church in Birmingham that he would hear the words that would save his life.
As Dave sat listening to the worship at the Christian Life Centre in Selly Oak, Birmingham, he was captivated. And when the pastor stood up to announce the theme of his sermon was ‘disappointment,’ Dave was convinced the service had been organised just for him! “Disappointment, to put it mildly, was just what I was facing at that time,” he says. The preacher didn’t know about that, so Dave felt it must have been a ‘secret message’ from God. “I knew that message was for me.”
‘Secret Messages’ was an album that ELO recorded while Dave was touring as a guitarist with the band, from 1981-86. It was written in answer to the extreme evangelical critics in the US who accused ELO of encrypting ‘secret satanic messages’ within their music! How ironic that ELO member Dave should become a Christian himself and eventually become a pastor as well!
When Dave joined ELO, he was already an established singer-songwriter, having worked with ELO’s predecessor, The Move, with The Spencer Davis Group, and with his own band The Ugly’s. But by the late 1980s, Dave was, incredibly, at a loose end, despite his success. Towards the end of that decade, ELO had broken up, and a trip to America to record a movie soundtrack left him ripped off and broke.
It was then that Dave’s mum, who was confined to a wheelchair, asked him to take her to church. Strangely, Dave felt right at home when the worship began. “There was something very different about these people. I thought, what are they on? I was struck by the joyfulness and reality of their faith. I was amazed when the pastor, David Woodfield, announced the title of his message was ‘disappointment’, because that was exactly where I was.”
Dave’s parents were both Christians, and as a young boy back in 1954, Dave had heard the Christian message when the famous American preacher Billy Graham was speaking in London. After Billy’s sermon, Dave decided to become a Christian himself. But his dad died when Dave was just 13, and he blamed God for taking his father away. He had grown up with that disappointment, but the excitement of being involved in the music industry allowed him to shove those feelings to the back of his mind. Looking back, Dave says God was on his case – in fact it was at that same service that he met his future wife, Mandy. She worked as a volunteer pastoral assistant at the church.
The course of true love however, did not run smoothly. Secretly, Mandy had always wanted to marry a minister – not a rock musician. But as she read a book, God spoke to her heart through it and showed her that Dave was the husband he had prepared for her. It was another of God’s ‘secret messages’ – this time for Mandy. She says, “It was amazing! God spoke to me through that Christian book.”
The couple were married in 1996, and so great was the change in Dave’s life that he felt God was calling him to church leadership. Dave and Mandy started church pastoral work together in 1998. They are currently working more on the evangelistic front. Mandy finally got her wish – she married a rock musician in obedience to God, but now also has the minister she originally wanted!
Although Dave has worked with former ELO colleagues on several albums, he hasn’t joined any of the reformed ELO bands. Instead, he prefers to express his love of good music through his own Christian albums like ‘Call’ and ‘Long Way Home’ and his latest album ‘XTD (Across the divide)’.
Story by Ralph Burden
photo 1: Dave & Mandy Scott-Morgan / ELO Ultimate Collection CD
photo 2: XTD album cover