He used to play drums at 2 in the morning in clubs around Florida.
Now he plays drums at 9 a.m. in a church on Anna Maria Island.
Ed Moss traces the change in his musical career, and in his life, to the time when "Highway to Hell" led him to God.
Back in the 1970s, Moss quit college to play drums in a rock 'n' roll band. The band, Armed Force, was doing well, playing hard-
rock covers and a few originals, mostly in clubs around Florida. Occasionally they'd even open for a national band such as Black Oak Arkansas.
Then he started paying attention to the lyrics of the songs he was playing.
"'Highway to Hell,' you know that song," Moss said, referring to a classic rock staple by AC/DC. "We were saying we were on a highway to hell."
Sometime before he had acquired a Gideon Bible. He never opened it but never got rid of it either. When he started thinking about being on a highway to hell, he decided to check out what was inside the good book.
"I didn't know the first thing about the Bible," he said. "And I didn't like to read, so I started reading the shortest books in the New Testament."
When he ran out of short books he started reading the longer ones. He couldn't get enough.
"It was," he said, "as if a light had been turned on. I just wanted to devour everything that was in the Bible."
Now Moss, who never read a word of scripture until he was an adult, is the lead pastor at CrossPointe Fellowship in Holmes Beach. It's not far from his childhood home on Anna Maria Island.
And at the 9 a.m. service every Sunday, when he's not preaching, Moss sits behind a massive drum kit, playing with the church's worship band.
Three years ago, CrossPointe Fellowship had been looking for a pastor who could help bring younger people into the church. Moss was working at another church, but he liked the people at CrossPointe and took on the challenge.
"I did what I do, which is to go out and talk to people," he said. "And I came back and said that what I was hearing from younger people was 'If you want to engage us, you have some music that we can relate to, music that we can hear.'"
The music at CrossPointe Fellowship had always been traditional, with hymns and gospel sings sung to a keyboard or recorded music. But the people there loved the idea of featuring more current music.
Moss helped attract a group of musicians, led by guitarist Fuzz Meneley, to play contemporary Christian music with songs by such artists as Hillsong. Moss is one of two drummers in the band, which usually includes five or six members, depending on who can be there on any particular Sunday.
He doesn't get to take the long solos he did when he was playing Led Zeppelin and Van Halen covers, but he's a happier drummer now.
"It was all about ego, just ego," Moss said of his Armed Force days.
He's not trying to impress audiences anymore, he said. When he picks up the sticks, he's just a member of a worship band.
"Really, drums is the ultimate service instrument," Moss said. "The drummer's job is to create a pocket and to make the band sound better. A good drummer can make an average band good and a good band great."
Marty Clear, features writer/columnist, can be reached at 941-745-7919. Follow twitter.com/martinclear.