David and Rosanna Palmer have been involved in Christian music and ministry for more than three decades.
In the lead up to faith-based music, the pair were performing as Rosanna’s Raiders.
But the Lord had other plans. Eventually he took them out of the rock scene and into music outreach, worship leading, church planting, pastoring, teaching, and ministering mostly to society’s outcasts.
There’s always a beginning and it was in the late 70s early 80s or thereabouts.
That’s when Rosanna and David met at high school with David first taking notice of Rosanna when she was called upon to sing.
I was really impressed by the way she played a 12-string guitar which was nearly as big as her.
“She played it really well and I was very keen to pursue this because I really wanted to do music too.” David was a bass player in waiting, you could say.
It was on the bus to school one day when David hooked up with one of his schoolmates who was also a bass player. One thing led to another and soon the two boys latched on to a drummer who happened to be Rosanna’s brother.
“I said yes. Get Henry in the band because I figured that must be Rosanna’s brother,” David said.
‘I knew Rosanna was there’
So they got together at David’s place, just the boys with the majority adamant the band should be blokes only.
“They would say to me, ‘We don’t want any girls’ and I said, ‘Who’s going to sing?’”
“Eventually one of the boys, John, got his driver’s licence and we were able to drive to Henry’s house and I knew Rosanna was there.”
And I just kept saying to them who’s going to sing?
As for the romance, David moved very quickly and popped the question to Rosanna. “Will you marry me?” No answer – for six years! She was 15 and David 17 at the time.
But that came as no surprise really. Rosanna was the more grounded of the two.
“I was very young,” Rosanna said, “but we did become friends, just good mates.”
Our first concert
“I just wanted to be a rock star, I wasn’t thinking about relationships.” And that’s how it started. The boys and Rosanne hooked up and the rehearsals followed.
David described what happened soon after.
A couple of days later came a phone call; ‘Will you come and sing at our fashion parade?
She said, ‘Can I bring my band?’ The event organiser said yes. And that was our first concert. We didn’t even know how to play properly!”
But their musicianship improved and they became good enough to win the local battle of the bands. Move ahead a few more years to another decision. Let’s go professional!
But Rosanna wasn’t keen on that idea and left to play with another band Staten Island.
Well, besotted as David was with Rosanna you can imagine he was not a happy chappy and was like a dog with its tail between its legs. So much so, David was like a groupie, following Rosanna and her new band around.
Gladstone – ‘They loved us there’
“It played all around Melbourne and I just hung around the band,” David said. It wasn’t long before Rosanna’s new band sacked its bass player, David auditioned and got the job.
Was that a coincidence? Or was it the Divine right hand of providence? David and Rosanna would say the latter.
“It was a 6-piece band and we weren’t making enough to be professional. Then we figured we could make as much money out of a 3-piece band as you could out of a 6 because it’s double each.”
Musical chairs followed. Rosanna’s brother Henry joined the 3-piece and a short time later an agent in Queensland needed bands.
So what did they sensibly and rationally decide to do? They dropped everything, went to Queensland only to have the agent tell them they weren’t suitable.
Thanks. But no thanks.
Moving on, Rosanna, David and Henry ended up in Gladstone. “They loved us there.”
“We played some heavy music, lots of covers, and we were a big hit in Queensland. Huge!” David highlighted.
Moving along again. The next destination, Hobart where they played at the Casino 6-nights, sometimes 7-days a week. Next came Hobart, playing at the Casino 6-nights a week, professional musos, but in the mix and beginning to stir the pot was with some spiritual interference from David’s sister Erica.
churches and prayers
“Erica would send us books. Nicky Cruz Run Baby Run, and The Cross and the Switchblade by David Wilkerson.
“So we’d read the book and it had this prayer inviting Jesus into our life.”
“Something was definitely put into our lives from those churches and our prayers, and of course our family love Billy Graham and listened to him every week on the radio,” David said.
Time marches on. The boys and girl go back to Melbourne, there’s a new agent, there’s plenty of work, and there’s now a very talented sound guy making them sound very talented, and they are!
“He was really well known, very good, he just had an instinct for it like nobody I’d ever seen,” David observed.
“So he was doing sound for us and we really had some momentum in the band. It was a really amazing time.”
They’d reached a peak, on top of the muso mountain many bands aspire to but few attain. But could they stay there?
“Everything was going for us. The gigs were getting better. We were playing in the major venues around Australia, it was really going well, but…….”
But what Dave?
“The sound guy was having problems with his girlfriend,” David confessed.
As the story goes their ultra-talented sound man and his girlfriend were both heavy drug users with a growing pile of drug-related complications.
In short, the girlfriend was manifesting. Demonic possession would not be an exaggeration.
The sound guy could see this before his very eyes,” David shared and told him his brother-in-law could help. He happened to be a pastor.
So here’s what happened. Just briefly for the sake of this story, it’s common knowledge pastors generally have a busy time on weekends and many like to take a break on Mondays.
Now, it’s late in the evening, it’s Monday night around 9.30pm when David makes the Triple 0 call to his pastor-in-law, Richard. Now Richard was obviously an exceptionally gracious pastor because he said to David, “Come on over.”
So the sound guy, the band’s lead guitarist tags along, and Rosanna and David, all head to Pastor Richard’s house in the middle of the night.
“We got there, he invited us in, he said what’s the problem, we explained it, and Richard just said to the sound guy, ‘Listen, you can’t help your girlfriend until you help yourself.”
‘Give your life to Jesus’
“Oh, what have I got to do to help myself?”
“Give your life to Jesus.”
“OK.” And the guitarist said, “Can I do that too?”
This is the sound guy, a druggie and the guitarist, a heavy smoker and drinker, kneeling down in my sister’s lounge-room giving their lives to Jesus.
“It was after 1.30am on the drive home that we just knew we had to use our music for God. And then we got pulled up by the police.”
“And of course the sound guy still had his drugs in his bag in the car!”
David started to pray
“I’d never prayed that much but I was really praying that night.”
A police officer took the driver, the sound guy, out of the car, asked him a few questions and one of them was, who have you been to see.
He answered, “I’ve been to see a priest.”
And the police officer said, “Well that’s a good enough reference for us son, on your way.
So they drove a little further down the road before the car stops. they’d stopped because their heavy duty druggie sound guy, who’d just prayed the Lord’s prayer for salvation, stopped the car so he could throw away all his drug paraphernalia.
Such was the power of his conversion.
David said he never touched drugs again.
“It was an absolute miracle. It really was,” Rosanna recalled.
The call of God
“On that night when the guys were born again Richard prayed for us (David and Rosanna) as well.”
“It really was the night we got the call of God. We changed on the inside.”
The guitarist was saved, the sound guy, Rosanna and I, and the only one who wasn’t there that night was the drummer.
Trouble was brewing. Everyone was starting to march to a different beat and their drummer wasn’t buying into it. After all, he was the drummer!
Worse. They dropped some of their best songs! The drummer was not happy, not happy at all. In fact he was ropeable. He threw down his drumsticks and declared,
“If God’s got anything to do with this band I’m out of here!” surprisingly enough he gave the band notice of his departure.
“You’ve got 2-weeks to find a new drummer.” He said.
‘I don’t what it is about that band’
Well, they prayed for their drummer day and night. And not only their drummer but everyone else they knew in the industry. They also changed the lyrics of their songs and no one seemed to notice.
But a year later they played at what would have been the biggest nightclub in Melbourne.
The band had set up in the afternoon and had to wait until 10pm before they’d start playing. So David to fill in time, roamed around the club praying and praying and praying.
It was on Monday their agent received a phone call from the nightclub. Here’s Rosanna’s new Raiders international version of the conversation that took place.
I don’t know what it is about that band. We had a record crowd, there were great numbers there, but we had the lowest bar take we’ve ever had!
“And then the manager said, ‘We don’t want then back!”
Goodnight! But the band was OK with that. Maybe it was another sign. Because the band’s heart was for outreach and they realised you can’t really reach out very well in a pub.
So that’s when David said, “Let’s go to the schools.” To which Rosanna responded, “What are we going to live on?” To which David replied, “I don’t know!”
From that day onward God opened doors for Rosanna’s Raiders to play in high schools for ten years. The story continues.
For most of the 1980s, Rosanna Palmer was recognised throughout Australia as the lead vocalist/guitarist in the band Rosanna’s Raiders.
Rosanna is a prolific songwriter who has penned scores of rock songs and dozens of praise and worship oriented choruses.
Rosanna’s strong Christian faith and her love of music have enabled her to join together the things that matter most. She no longer sings about boy-meets-girl scenarios. Instead, her material deals with other realities of life,child abuse, loneliness, the search for God, good and evil, sorrow and joy. Recurring themes in her writing include warnings of the devil’s deceptions and passionate pleas to consider a commitment to Christ.
Rosanna Palmer has influenced many lives. She lives in the real world where she encounters real people, many of them desperately searching for Truth. Her songs have penetrated pagan pubs; her choruses have encouraged Christians around the world.”