Jeff Fenholt

Jeff Fenholt
Birth nameJeffrey Craig Fenholt
Born(1950-09-15)September 15, 1950
United States
Died (aged 68)
GenresCCM, Christian rock/metal, hard rock, heavy metal
Occupation(s)Singer-songwriter, musician, actor, evangelist
InstrumentsVocals, guitar, piano
Years active1970–2019
Associated actsBible Black, Black Sabbath, Joshua, Tony Iommi, Driver, Geezer Butler Band, Craig Goldy

Jeffrey Craig "Jeff" Fenholt (September 15, 1950 – September 10, 2019) was an American singer and actor best known for his performance as the title character in the original Broadway theatre adaptation of Jesus Christ Superstar and for his appearance on the cover of Time. In later years, Fenholt gained notoriety as a Christian evangelist and singer, as well as controversy over his involvement with the English heavy metal band Black Sabbath.

Background and early years

Fenholt grew up in Ohio and went to school in Columbus, Ohio. He was involved with a number of rock bands and performed at various school functions. Fenholt got his first regional hit recording titled "Goin' Too Far" with the band The Fifth Order when he was 14. He toured extensively while he was in high school. By his own admission, he was a troubled youth with a juvenile delinquency record. Later, while in college, he worked at Jeffrey Mining Machinery Co. as a material mover in the motor winding and assembly department, and loading and unloading beef sides for a non-union roughneck truck dock, EC Jones, Trucking. Fenholt attended Ohio State University for two years on a music scholarship, and later earned his B.A. in music at The School of Bible Theology University in San Jacinto, California.

Fenholt was cast as Jesus in the title role in the original Broadway production of Jesus Christ Superstar at the Mark Hellinger Theatre. Jesus Christ Superstar sold in excess of 12 million albums. Future JCS legends Carl Anderson and Yvonne Elliman toured with Fenholt on the JCS world tour as Judas Iscariot and Mary Magdalene, respectively.

Fenholt released several solo recordings, including a successful cover of Graham Nash's "Simple Man"[1] (not to be confused with Lobo's "A Simple Man", which was released at nearly the same time[2]).

Fenholt co-founded Entertainment Capital Corporation with Jeff Thornburg, former president of The Robert Stigwood Org, producing Andy Warhol's film, Bad. ECC also produced recordings for Fenholt. Thornburg and Fenholt amicably parted ways when Thornburg accepted the position of head Of venture capital for Paramount Pictures.

In 1978, Fenholt recorded a disco LP titled Smile for CBS and was paid $300,000. Fenholt also recorded for Capitol Records, Universal, Paramount, Polygram, Polydor, Decca, RCA, and as a youth, Laurie, Diamond and Cameo Parkway. He last recorded for Sony.

Fenholt's 1994 autobiography From Darkness to Light reveals that he was abused and mistreated as a youth and subjected to frequent beatings. In 1996, Fenholt's parents sued him, Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN), and the publisher of his autobiography for $12 million each for defamation of character. Fenholt's siblings claimed he made up the stories of abuse, but the lawsuit subsequently was dropped after Fenholt produced court documents from the superior court of Franklin County, Ohio, confirming his claims. Fenholt later said that he had a "warm relationship" with his mother and family.

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