It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Charlie Ruh, long-time member of Sons of Thunder and light-show master, who died on May 1, 2016 after a long illness. Please read below for some history of Charlie's vital involvement with SOT.

Lights by Charlie Ruh

For about four years, Sons of Thunder enjoyed the tremendous benefit of a light show at most of their performances, presented by Charlie Ruh. Charlie hailed from Philadelphia , where he had been active in Christian Endeavor and a leader in that ministry. SOT met Charlie in June 1969, when the band performed for a coffee house held in New York , in connection with Billy Graham’s Madison Square Garden crusade. Charlie had also been hired to perform at this coffee house, and a fast friendship developed between him and Sons of Thunder. Over the next six months, Charlie performed several times with SOT. Then in the winter of 1970 he moved to the Washington , D.C. area and became a permanent part of Sons of Thunder, presenting a light show at most of their concerts from then on. Charlie remained with the band until they ceased operation in December 1974, and even directed their operation for the final six months.

While light shows were popular in this era and many rock bands featured them, Sons of Thunder were probably the first Christian band to do so. Charlie’s light show took place on a huge rear-projection screen set up behind the band, whenever space and lighting conditions allowed it. On this screen Charlie projected images, words, and effects (imagine a petri dish being swished in front of a projector’s beam) that enhanced the music and reinforced the lyrics of the songs. Far from a slide show, it was a highly creative and professional presentation that that had a mesmerizing life of its own, and added a compelling further dimension to SOT’s performances. At least once in a typical concert, SOT would perform an instrumental, allowing Charlie’s light show to be the prime focus.

Here are some photos of Charlie and his remarkable light show. Wish we had more, but hope you enjoy these we have.


Charlie Ruh

His gear (some of it)

If there was any way to do it when Sot performed, Charlie would
find a place to set a screen where the audience could see it -- here's
his improvised arrangement at a shopping mall performance
in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Our earliest photo of Charlie's lights -- at Joan Hettenhouser's final concert with SOT in March 1970


June 1970 at Salisbury Civic Center, Salisbury, Maryland (next 3)


And some more; not sure where from . . .


Sons of Thunder
P.O. Box 448
Damascus, Maryland 20872


Celebrating America's Pioneer Christian Rock Band