Greenbaum is best known for his song “Spirit in the Sky”. The song, with its combination of ‘heavy’ guitar, hand-clapping, and spiritual lyrics, was released by Reprise Records in 1969. It sold two million copies in 1969 and 1970, and received a gold disc from the RIAA. It has subsequently been used in many films, advertisements, and television shows
Although “Spirit in the Sky” has a clear Christian theme, Greenbaum was and remains an observant Jew. Greenbaum says he was inspired to write the song after watching country singers singing a song on television. In an interview Greenbaum stated that western movies were the real inspiration for “Spirit in the Sky”
“Spirit in the Sky” is a song written and originally recorded by Norman Greenbaum and released in late 1969. The single became a gold record, selling two million copies from 1969 to 1970, and reached number three on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart (April 18, 1970), where it lasted for 15 weeks in the Top 100, and #1 on WCFL on March 16, 1970 and on WLS on March 23, 1970, just before Easter. Billboard ranked the record the No. 22 song of 1970. It also climbed to number one on the UK, Australian and Canadian charts in 1970. Rolling Stone ranked “Spirit in the Sky” No. 333 on its list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. The song was featured on the 1969 album of the same name. Cover versions by Doctor and the Medics and Gareth Gates have also made the number 1 spot in the UK.