|Published on July 12th, 2016 | by Anthony Martinez|
Tracy Ferrie is the current touring bass player for the classic rock band Boston and was the former bass player of Stryper. Tracy played bass for Michael Sweet's solo band and was also a member of the bands Electrik, Sally Steele, Seraiah, Whitecross, Guardian, Rebecca St. James, Plumb, Sonicflood and Strange Celebrity.
But certainly, Tracy came to be better known for being the bassist Stryper of 2005 to 2009, replacing to Timothy Gaines, and recording two albums with Stryper, Reborn and Murder by Pride, 2005 and 2009 respectively.
Tracy did not come by chance to Stryper, according to his own words in an interview conducted several years ago, Stryper played a crucial role in his life to become a Christian.
This is a part of this old interview with Tracy Ferrie in May 2005 by the official site of Stryper (www.stryper.com) where he shared part of his life and testimony.
Stryper.com: Do you recall the first time you heard Stryper?
Tracy: Yes. I’d been show an album cover when I was living in Boston, and going to school at Berkley. But I don’t think I heard the music until leaving the Boston area. I was in rental van during a really bad part of my life, and I happened to be listening to a rock n’ roll station. The song “Soldiers Under Command” came on. It was like a medicine to my hurting soul, I guess you could say.
Stryper.com: From that point did you seek out a cassette of Stryper?
Tracy: Yeah, I bought “Soldiers Under Command”, and “To Hell with the Devil” on LP was just coming out at that time.
Stryper.com: And it was just off of hearing “Soldiers” on the radio?
Tracy: Yeah. And there are some dramatic events that lead up to that point, I don’t know if you want to get in to that or not.
Stryper.com: Whatever you feel like sharing.
Tracy: Alright. I was eight years old, I was playing in the neighborhood … and one of the neighbors was a very, very on-fire Christian. He would witness to the kids in the neighborhood, invite ‘em in and let ‘em play in his driveway because he had a basketball court. He would tell them about Jesus, and give them some milk and cookies to lure them in. (laughs) Then this man would really on-fire preach, like he was on television or something. One or two of us would respond, and I remember really responding to the message that Jesus was coming again. That was his message. Are you ready, and will you come back with him on a white horse? I responded to that.
I never went to church before, or was ever invited after that for many years. I kinda had a belief in God from that, but never had a relationship. It was never developed, and I never was a disciple. In fact, my parents kinda told me to stay away from the guy.
Through those years, I ended up doing all of the undesirable things that normal kids get into, and I ended up in Boston going to Berkley College of Music. I was semi-dating a girl, and went to a Ratt/Poison concert. It was sort of a two guy, two girl thing, but not necessarily a double-date. On the way back, our car was assaulted by another car. They were throwing beer bottles, and it became like a high-speed chase… with them trying to run us off the road. It went on for miles and miles, until we were almost going to run out of gas. There’s a pretty long stretch between Worchester, Mass, where the concert was, and Boston… and there was a little town in between called Framingham. We couldn’t outrun them… we had a smaller car than theirs, and they had a big four-door sedan. They were literally sitting on top of their car-door windows, hanging out, and even the driver was sitting on the car window and throwing bottles and whatever at us… smashing our windows, and that kind of thing.
So my friend (the driver) finally ended up pulling over in the most lit up area he could find, which was a little hotel, just to get off those kinds of deserted roads that late at night. We didn’t see any other cars or anybody, so we were really freaked out. As we were getting out, they attacked the driver. I was helping the two girls get into the lobby of the hotel for safety, just to get them inside. Right before I got them in I heard the driver call out for help… for me to help him. As I went back out, a couple of guys went after me. There were four altogether in their group. As I began to defend myself, I was able to knock one down and then deal with the other one. He jumped in the car, locked himself in based on what I did to the other guy. So then I came around to help the driver, and began to pull them off. The guy that got in the car got a nightstick and he hit me from behind, and I basically kinda don’t remember anything after that. So the rest of this event was from the other people in my party.
I guess what had happened during that portion, is that the four of them took me on in a half-conscious state. They held me down, stomped my face and beat it with the club. The other guy that was with me ended up taking off and running.
So I was kinda alone with the four of them, and just delirious. The next thing I remember is being rushed to the hospital in an ambulance, and they were trying to ask me questions to keep me conscious. I was trying to take air in but my mouth was full of blood. My teeth were knocked out, and my lip spilt clear through… top and bottom. It was split in two right up to my nose. I remember just trying to breathe, thinking ‘if I can just take another breath, if I can just take another breath.’ In between breaths I was thinking about my mortality and what would become of me. I sized up my life.
Stryper.com: How old were you at this point?
Tracy: This was about 1987 so I was probably 20 years old. I ended up having tens of thousands of dollars in facial surgery and then all kinds of recovery. I was carrying around a lot of negative feelings about the experience and the people involved, so I just wanted to get out. So I left, through the help of my mom. We were driving back, and it was one of those moments that you never forget. We were passing through Cleveland. Cleveland’s a great rock ‘n roll town, you get some good stations there. It was one of those Cleveland rock ‘n roll stations, and that Stryper song came on at probably five or six in the morning. We were driving through the night … and this was the beginning. It was the seed that was going to eventually take root.
I kinda consider it like a farmer going out to plow. Maybe it was not the seed, maybe it was more them breaking the ground. Doing a little groundbreaking in my heart.
I was going to stay in Indiana, where I grew up, for the summer to recover and then head out to L.A. So during that summer in Indiana, I bought a couple of Stryper records and sent them to my girlfriend, Marybeth. I was invited to go to a church by this lady who knew me from when I was younger. I was telling her about some of my New Age ideologies, that I’d picked up in the New England area and from the influence of my girlfriend. She just very politely and lovingly said, “We don’t subscribe to that way of thinking in our church. Why don’t you come and check it out? You can sit up front. I’ll be singing in the choir, and if you’re uncomfortable, you’ll know I’m there.”
She wasn’t at all condemning and trying to point out the wrong in my life. She just simply pointed the direction to where I needed to go. That’s the first time that had ever happened, other than the guy preaching at me. The Christians at school, they ended up just telling me everything that was wrong with what I listened to, or what I liked, or what I did. They never pointed to what was right, they just told me what was wrong. I definitely like to make a point of that.
So I went to the church, it was an Assemblage of God church in Elkhart, Indiana. The preacher preached and sang with joy in his heart, very convincingly. As the scripture says, “No one comes to me unless the Father first draws him.” I literally felt the Spirit of God drawing me to come forward and make a decision. To become a new creation, or re-dedicate, because I did pray a prayer when I was little… but had not seen any fruit. So I responded to the alter call, and began regularly attending church.
I had the initial high of being a new Christian in that environment. I headed out to L.A. and tried to be a Christian without proper training, and proper guidance. I was beginning to fail in my Christian walk, and having a real hard time trying to reach out and find other Christians. I didn’t really know the Bible, so I kinda resorted back to my original way of life. But knew that it was wrong. I felt some conviction, but didn’t know the specifics of what was wrong. While all that had been happening, Mary Beth, who was kinda an ex-girlfriend by that time, was listening to the Stryper music I sent her.
She was on drugs, an alcoholic, and had gone through some dark stuff. About the darkest you can get in life. But she listened to the music over and over, and she eventually knelt beside her bed and asked Jesus to do what the music was saying. She became a Christian by listening to Stryper, directly from the lyrics. No preacher, no alter call or anything like that. Just “OK, this is what these guys are saying, and I’m going to try it.” Because she was desperate. She probably wouldn’t be here today if it hadn’t been for the music of Stryper.
So she became a Christian, and came out to LA. We were living together for a time, and a very loving Christian came along. I was getting involved musically with him, and he approached me with the Word of God. He said, “I hope this doesn’t come across in any way judging, but I think that God is leading me to read scripture to you.” He read Galatians chapter 5 about those who practice such things, outbursts of anger, adultery, fornication, and the list goes on… and those that practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
I think it was the first time I remember actually coming face to face with scripture. It was a crossroads. I just was introduced to this passage in the Bible: am I going to respond to it as the authority of God, or am I going to go my way? I responded to it, and that’s when my life really began to change. I will say it was because of scripture.
After this guy had shown the scripture to me at rehearsal, Marybeth and I were driving in the car on the highway in LA. There was silence. There wasn’t any music playing, and I heard a voice in my head saying, “You’re going to marry this person, and you’re going to do it soon.” (laughs) I turned and looked at her, and she heard the same thing in her head. I didn’t even ask her. All I said was, “If we get married, or when we get married, does it matter if all family’s not here?” She said, “No, it doesn’t matter.” And that was it. We set a date like a month later, and we were married. And the guy who I was involved with music, his dad officiated the wedding.
There were just so many testimonies around that. We had no money for the wedding, no job. I was in between things, and the preacher said “I will marry you only if you agree to getting counseling.” We were like, great, so he offered his services for free. The day of the wedding I called my mom in another state and said, “Don’t be alarmed, but we’re getting married today.” She wasn’t freaked out, she asked, “Can I be a part of it in some way, and help you with the honeymoon?” So that was taken care of.
In the first chapter of Romans, it says that obedience comes through faith. So literally, from the moment of stepping out in obedience and faith… my life began to turn around, it was like everything started going right after that. Everywhere I turned, a door would open. God began providing for us and blessings flowed. He provided an apartment, a job, everything. I mean just immediately [snaps his fingers] things began to fall into place.....
Stryper.com: After you married, how did you pursue your music career?
Tracy: What happened was very significant. I put out some ads about looking for cool Christian cats or something like that. (laughs) Something real corny with a picture of a cat. Some really cool guys responded, and kinda took me under their wing. Those were the guys from Electrik. They told me about their church Sanctuary, and they invited me to it. Up until then, I had not been discipled. That was one of the major problems with my walk and relationship. I had knowledge of God, but I didn’t know what He required of me, or how to live the Christian life.
|Tracy on Electrik 1989|
So these guys brought me to church, and Sanctuary had multiple discipleship programs. My wife and I went through a year long course. It was a radical active discipleship, and we learned so many different aspects of living the Christian life. What we’re going to encounter, and how to handle different things. That changed my life, and my walk. I was equipped. There’s a scripture verse that says to be prepared to give that humble, quiet answer for the hope that you have. That is just so important to being a Christian.
So my wife and I were both discipled. I started recording for Electrik. That went on for about a year or two, something like that. I ended up being called to the East Coast, to witness to my family... which was fruitful. When I was out there I got a call from Dez Dickerson, do you know who that is?
Stryper.com: Yes, he used to play with Prince!
Tracy: He said that there’s a couple of bands he wanted me to check out. One was Whitecross. I tried out for them, but Rex Carroll didn’t think I was worthy. (laughs)
Tracy: I actually tried out twice for Whitecross, and both times I got denied.
Tracy: Then a band called Seraiah called me up. They were just the greatest guys. They were from my home state, Indiana, which really holds a soft place in my heart. So they came out with this little trailer and moved all my stuff back to Indiana. I ended up making a move because of the band. We rehearsed in Marion, Indiana up above this music store. It was a great time! We did some touring, and I did a record with them. I really thought they were one of the best bands to ever play for. The record company experience was not very, uh… (laughs)
|Tracy on Seraiah|
Stryper.com: Pleasant? (laughing)
Tracy: It wasn’t the best experience… not a positive experience, let me put it that way. I ended up leaving the group over issues of that nature, and ended up getting a call from Scott Wenzell. He didn’t feel he needed to audition me once Rex was gone (from Whitecross). Once he had parted with Rex, he and I ended up looking for a guitar player. We had auditioned and got a guy named Barry Graul, who played for DC Talk, Michael Sweet, and others. Now he is the guitar player for Mercy Me (not too shabby).
|Tracy on Whitecross 1994|
After settling into Nashville, I began to put out some resumes and pictures, stuff like that. You know, mail them to whoever and get them out. Somebody got a hold of one, and hand-delivered it to Michael Sweet’s address. I don’t know this person, I didn’t know Michael Sweet, and I wasn’t necessarily trying to get hold of him. But somebody hand-delivered it to his mailbox.
Stryper.com: You didn’t know who that was that gave it to Mike?
Tracy: No. He doesn’t either.
Stryper.com: Incredible. So your demo and your resume showed up in his mailbox?
Tracy: Right. Resume and picture. Neither of us, to this day, knows who hand delivered it to his mailbox. But I’m very grateful. He gave me a call, it was about the time he was forming his first solo tour. I was involved in the studio with Whitecross at the time, and it would not have been right for me to bail on them. Especially in the middle of a recording. I ended up doing two records with Whitecross, and in between that time, I was getting calls from Michael Sweet. I wasn’t available here, I wasn’t available there, and he went through two or maybe three bass players before I became available. I finally ended up doing the Real tour with him.
We became friends immediately. He would come to rehearse in Nashville, and at first was staying at a hotel. I said, “Look, we’ve got a really small extra bedroom with a really lousy bed (laughs), if you want to stay there.” He came over, and it was a very special time. My wife and I set him down, and shared with him the reason we were Christians today was because of the music of Stryper. Indirectly, for myself, but directly for my wife. It was very meaningful to him, because I think he had gone through some times of… I’m not sure how to put it. Maybe just being discouraged, let’s put it that way. I felt really led to say, “If you ever feel discouraged, and not being used, just look at our life. We are God’s success story through Stryper. We’re married today, we’re Christians today, and the fact that I’m getting to play for the very person who was instrumental in leading to this Christian life.” To me, only God could do something like that. It’d be like somebody at a Billy Graham crusade getting saved and getting to be their secretary or something like that. I knew some of the other bassists that played for Michael, and Michael is a stickler. (laughs) For me to endure the test of time would be a challenge. But by God’s grace, I’m still working with him.
Stryper.com: And now you’re Stryper’s bass player. How did that come about?
Tracy: During the reunion tour, they came through Nashville. I got a call from Michael, saying he would like to hook up maybe for dinner and before the show. He also said that if I would want to, I could lead them in prayer and devotions. Normally they would have Michael Guido, who I’m acquainted with and somewhat friends with in Nashville. Guido agreed to sit it out and let me lead the devotions that night, so I was in the bus with them and God put it in my heart what to say. That was another time to connect with the guys. I got to meet Timmy, who I might have met at the Stryper Expo, but just briefly. So there was another connection there.
When it was time for Timmy and the rest of the band to go their separate ways, I got the call from management. I was initially offered the shows to fill in, Orlando and whatever would be in the near future, to fill in for the interim. I’d been in some other wonderful bands: Rebecca St. James, Plumb, Guardian, and others, and had some wonderful spiritual experiences on-stage. But the whole time in Orlando, I felt God’s presence very, very heavy upon me. Even in the hotel room. And this is a testimony, not a lot of the bands I’ve played for did I get my own room. This particular show, the band members did get their own room. Sometimes it’s scary, to be alone in a room with the tv and all that stuff. But I’ve been around a lot of wise, godly people who have counseled me on stuff like that.
|Tracy & Mike 2005|
Stryper.com: Were you able to sleep at all?
Tracy: (laughs) I’d sleep a couple of hours, and cry. It was a weird kind of cry. It was like God’s heart, kind of cry. Then we did our sound check, got prepared, and I realized I’m getting to live out a dream that I’ve been working toward my entire life. Not necessarily Stryper, but just someplace where I felt like God was calling me into. The show was very moving, and I felt like there was a very powerful presence of God, at least from where I was standing.
Here is something else important about the Stryper show that I wanted to point out. With many bands I’ve been in, we’d try to get together and have devotional, or we’d pray or whatever. This time we got together before we went to the venue, and said, “Look, we’re going to get there and it’s going to be crazy. We’ll be lucky to have five minutes of praying.” So we literally spent at least two hours talking, praying, and reading scripture. For one of the first times I felt really prepared, spiritually, to go out and deal with what was going to happen. I felt God playing through me that night, as I have in other groups and situations. I was really encouraged that we took the time and we prayed. We took care of business, in a spiritual sense, before going out on stage. We bonded and we got some stuff out that God needed to get out, in talking to each other. It was wonderful! Not just the band, but also the band and the crew, which is very important because they are part of the family as well. It sounds clichéd, but you really can’t do it without them. Not do it right anyway.
So I felt the support and welcome that they provided as well. I got a very warm and positive response from Oz and Robert before, during, and after the show. Especially after the show, which was very confirming and rewarding. Which leads me to recording and developing an even deeper relationship with them.
Stryper.com: It sounds like God has been preparing you for quite some time!
Tracy: Yes. One thing I realize, having played live and recording with Stryper… is that I am indeed in a league with extraordinary gentlemen. Just getting to know them, and every opportunity there is to talk about God, and point each other in the right direction. That’s encouraging. Because a lot of times, these bands get out on the road, and they can sometimes get mischievous. You can really cause each other to stumble. That hasn’t been the case here, it’s more been the opposite.
The other thing I wanted to emphasize, I feel that my life has been a Christian success story, thanks to Stryper. I’ve been married sixteen years now, and I am in love with my wife. I’m very happy with my employment, and the relationships that come along with that.
Stryper.com: So what can you tell us about the new album? (Reborn) 2005
Tracy: The album is a collection of songs Michael had been crafting in his studio her on the east coast. At recording time, Mike asked for out input and we began the process. Rob pounded out the drum parts and I played along in the control room. After that Mike & Oz worked out the guitar lines. We then belted out some background vocals in the overdub studio and left it in the hands of our engineer to make for a successful delivery and there you have it – Reborn.
It’s a good mix of tunes, even the one or two that seem like a ballad end up kicking you in the pants. My favorite tracks are “When Did I See You Cry” and the new version of “In God We Trust”. To me, Reborn is a cross between Against The Law and Michael’s Truth record; heavy, tight, and melodious.
|Ttracy on Stryper 2005|
Stryper.com: Any final thoughts for our readers?
Tracy: Be faithful in the little things for God measures things different than we do. I would like to say thanks to those who pointed the way, especially those who locked arms and walked with me. All you saints: Please keep us covered in prayer for it is powerful and effective. And finally, know that God in Christ Jesus truly has your best interest in mind. You have his word on it! (see Psalms 37:4)