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Norman Greenbaum Net Worth $1 Million

What is Norman Greenbaum’s net worth?

Norman Greenbaum is an American guitarist and singer-songwriter who has a net worth of $1 million. He rose to fame in the 1960s with his hit – “Spirit In the Sky.”

He was born on November 20, 1942, in Malden, Massachusetts, USA.

Greenbaum was raised in a traditional Jewish household in Malden.

In 1960, he graduated from Malden High School.

Norman first started to perform in high school with various bands.

He went to Boston University for two years. During that time, he performed at local coffeehouses. In 1965, he dropped out of college and moved to LA.

In 1966, Greenbaum formed his first group, called – ”Dr. West’s Medicine Show and Junk Band.”

In the same year, the band recorded the novelty hit, titled – “The Eggplant That Ate Chicago.”

Spirit in the Sky

norman greenbaum royalties

Photo of Norman Greenbaum Photo by Michael Ochs – @Getty

In 1969, Greenbaum released his hit, named – “Spirit in the Sky.” The song gained the #333 spot in Rolling Stone Magazine’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

In 1970, the song was also a chart-topper in Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom. Also, it spent 15 weeks on Billboard’s Hot 100 pop chart.

The song verse starts as follows:

”When I die and
They lay me to rest
Gonna go to the
Place that’s the best.”

To write the song, Norman was influenced by folk revival music. But, the original inspiration for “Spirit in the Sky” was a song about a preacher by country singer Porter Wagoner. 

He said in an interview:

”The song itself was simple, when you’re writing a song you keep it simple of course. It wasn’t like a Christian song of praise it was just a simple song.”

In September 2011, he told Mojo magazine that “Spirit in the Sky” is “timeless.”

Norman Greenbaum Net Worth

Image source – © Guliver / Getty Images

“Most everyone else sees it that way.”

Norman continued:

”It appeals to one’s inner self and the need for redemption, plus, heck, who wants to go to hell?”

“Spirit in the Sky” has been often used in movies, TV shows, and commercials, including:

  • Sandlot 2;
  • Maid To Order;
  • The Longest Yard;
  • Apollo 13;
  • Handgun;
  • Ocean’s 11;
  • The War;
  • Saving Grace;
  • Secret Life Of Girls;
  • Angel Baby;
  • Sunshine Cleaning;
  • Wolves of Kromer;
  • Gideon’s Crossing;
  • This Is The End;
  • Beverly Hills 90210;
  • Simple Plan;
  • December Boys;
  • Remember The Titans;
  • Evan Almighty;
  • American Express;
  • Breakfast With Hunter;
  • Miami Blues;
  • Flight Of The Phoenix;
  • Wayne’s World 2;
  • My Big Fat Moonie Wedding;
  • Universal Soldier;
  • Montgolfier Of Death;
  • My Name Is Joe.

Most recently, the song was used in Disney’s 2014 box-office smash “Guardians of the Galaxy.”

Norman declared:

”I watched the trailer of Guardians of the Galaxy the other day and last night and it gave me the shivers all over again.”

In 1970, he released another hit, titled – “Canned Ham.” It reached number 46 on the Billboard pop chart.

In 2015, after a crash that killed a motorcycle driver (Ihab Usama Halaweh), Norman was in critical condition. He was a passenger in a Subaru when its driver turned left and crossed into the motorcycle’s path. The driver of the motorcycle was killed in the incident.

The California Highway Patrol said that Norman was transported to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital. 

According to a statement from his family:

”The doctors and nurses at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital are doing everything possible.”

His family added:

“Please keep Norman in your thoughts and prayers.” 


Norman Greenbaum was married to Victoria Sue Bodnar. Their marriage spanned four years, from 1969 to 1973, and ended in divorce. At the time of writing, it is believed that Norman Greenbaum is currently single and not dating anyone.

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what is the net worth of Norman Greenbaum


”My heavy industrial fuzz box riff was developed over a period of time, as I experimented along the way, finally, at last getting it down. I did not slit the speakers as many have thought over the years.”

”Spirit In The Sky was recorded in San Francisco. I was a solo artist, so we put together a backing band and singers and recorded at 960 Bush, Coast Recorders.”

“I still get strange letters from heavy Christians that find it appalling that I said, ‘Never been a sinner, I never sinned,’ and I’m truthful in writing back. I say, ‘You know, I flubbed that part. So what are you going to do?’”

“I’m just some Jewish musician who really dug gospel music. I decided there was a larger Jesus gospel market out there than a Jehovah one.”

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Norman Greenbaum, Jack Carrington, and Evan Engber perform live on stage, April 1967 – @Getty

His initial interest in music was sparked by folk music and southern blues music which was very popular in the late 1950s.

Norman also drew songwriting inspiration from Dolly Parton, a flamboyant country singer who composed the hit song “I Will Always Love You,” which Whitney Houston would later cover.

After releasing more #1 hits than any other country singer in the United States history, Parton received the nickname – ”The Queen of Country Music.” According to the statistics, Dolly released 26 #1 Billboard hits, including “9 to 5,” “Coat of Many Colors,” and “Jolene.” 

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Net Worth & Royalties 2024

So, how much is Norman Greenbaum worth? Greenbaum earned most of his money from selling his hit single ”Spirit in the Sky.” For example, from 1969 to 1970, the single was sold in more than two million copies. Therefore, singer-songwriter Norman Greenbaum has an estimated net worth of $1 million.

In addition, the single has been featured in over 100 movies, commercials, and TV shows. Every time “Spirit in the Sky” features in a major movie or advertisement, Greenbaum reportedly receives a check for $10,000 or more.

Norman said he wrote the words for ”Spirit in the Sky” in 15 minutes. He also said:

“Because of ‘Spirit in the Sky,’ I don’t have to work. So in that sense, it’s a comfortable living.”

Moreover, Norman released other songs and had several concerts.

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Rob M

Sunday 3rd of April 2022

I saw a performance by Norman. and a group of musicians on You Tube. Doesn’t he play guitar anymore?

I’d like to know what guitar he used on “Spirit” if he did play on the track.

William Landrath

Tuesday 19th of October 2021

Wisconsin early 70s, while in High School and riding a school bus home (one sunny afternoon), Low and behold... our bus driver's AM/FM radio was blasting...Spirit In The Sky! What a very cool guitar song to listen to at the time!

Spirit in The Sky immediately had my attention! While listening to it (and in my mind's eye, having some musical interests already), I had imagined seeing myself being able to be playing this very cool song myself,one day and...

while listening to it,(strangely speaking...), ended up also thinking about this Jesus mentioned in the lyrics! It had me mesmerized on my trip - all the way home!

A few years later...little was I understanding of, a youth type spiritual (Gospel) revival going on in the country, (that started way out in California in the later 60s-early 70s) which, apparently speaking,...made it all the way to Wisconsin one day..., I'll tell you what I mean...

Today,while looking back,at age 66, thinking about this very cool (special) song,... I'm realizing and convinced, it spiritually had a seed planting affect upon my very soul at the time...How so?

1975 rolled around, and one evening in August,while working at a local factory,and, moment's before deciding suicide with my Harley parked outside,... something very humbling happened to me!

A High school friend working there that evening (not at all knowing I desired suicide that very moment),decided to share his Faith in Jesus with me and (without realizing it) led me to a saving Faith in Jesus Christ, The Lord my God, My life was changed!

Rather than (as previously done in my past)- attempting a few chases with Police cars for excitement now and then... my heart's change ended up serving in Law Enforcement as an Officer and a Deputy for a few years! Surly, God has a sense of humor if you ask me!...

Jesus The Christ (whom the Bible tells us is God incarnate), has changed my existence and future, Thanks for reading my post! And thanks Norman Greenbaum for your... Spirit in The Sky!

Curtis Hanks

Sunday 21st of November 2021

As a retired (33 years in 3 states & the Trust Territory of the Pacific) police officer and a child of King; I appreciate your testimony & praying The Spirit in Sky, i.e. Holy Spirit is filling your life!


Tuesday 17th of August 2021

My sis-in-law choose this song for her memorial mass held yesterday. Always liked it, more so now. Thanks.

Jeaneene Nooney

Saturday 22nd of May 2021

Great song! I always turn it up. The line "I never been a sinner, I never sinned" could fit with the gospel simply by changing the pronoun "I" to "He". Jesus would automatically fill the void, (like he does anyway). I hope (and pray) that Norman appropriates the grace that Jesus brought to the world!


Sunday 24th of January 2021

I don't recal him touring in the late60's or 70's. Does anyone know if he did and how is he faring these days?