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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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More than a one-band man

Rock star Peter Mayer plays songs of faith

To legions of fans, Peter Mayer may be best known as the lead guitarist for Jimmy Buffett’s Coral Reefer Band. Tall, tan and fit, with a mane of shoulder-length hair, Mayer looks every bit the charismatic rock star he is. Yet as he enters his 18th year of touring with Buffett, playing to sold-out crowds of famously party-crazed concertgoers known as Parrot Heads, he is broadening his musical outreach and witness for Christ in ways that seemed unfathomable to him a few years ago.

“The Spirit has always moved and called me, going through the ups and downs in my life,” Mayer said during a recent interview in Nashville, Tenn., where he lives with his wife, Patricia O’Reilly, and their two teenagers. “I’ve always had a praying, meditating life. Sometimes I’m not a churchgoing person, but I’ve always prayed—every day.”

Mayer was born in Tamil Nadu, southern India, where his parents, James and Selma “Sammy” Mayer, served as Lutheran missionaries for 17 years. The family returned to their Missouri home when Mayer was still a boy. His earliest musical influences were British-invasion bands such as The Beatles, mixed with his father’s albums of Bach, Brahms and Rachmaninoff.


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