Sunday, July 8, 2012

Dad, I wish I could see you and your brothers playing together again

 

A couple weeks ago on Father’s Day, my cousin Amy posted this picture on Facebook.  My jaw literally dropped when I saw it.  How is it that I never saw this photo before?  The oldest kid on the right is my dad!

Summer 1950, from left to right:  Uncle Mike, Uncle Shane & that tall one is my Dad

 

I was just surprised and happy to see this old photo of the “original” Morris Brothers on the family farm. 

I’ve written on here before about my dad’s musical career, but it actually began in the mid 1960s when he and his brothers formed a popular group, “The Morris Brothers Band”.  (Catchy name, eh?  Well, it worked for them!)  They had a country rock sound, and until 1971 or so, played on weekends at different clubs, lounges and public events, were an annual fixture at the Greene County Fair & even recorded a couple of their earlier songs.   (They sort of went their own way at the start of the ‘70s, when my dad pursued a more “solo” career; but my Uncle Mike started ‘The Country Rockers’, and Dad headlined with his group.)

Uncle Mike, Uncle Shane, Dad - The Morris Bros Band

Uncle Mike on guitar, Uncle Shane on drums & my dad who sang lead & played piano; gosh I don’t know who that second guitar is!

Here’s the 45 they released in the mid-60s, “Cruel World” and a pretty frantic sounding “Rockin’ Country Fever” on the flip-side.  (I’ve included links to both songs here, but I have to warn you, the audio is pretty scratchy; I think their music got a little more “polished” later on.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click on either record to listen to the Morris Bros songs or my Dad’s singles “Up My Street” & “In the Springtime”

I think what’s really interesting is that “Country Fever” on the B side became a sort of “rockabilly cult favorite” & it’s still sold today—a copy of the 45 sold on Ebay a few months ago for $152.00!  (Click here to see it.)  Also, I recently came across the song on these 2 compilation CDs.  (Click on either album to visit the website it’s sold from and the list of tracks per album.)

Rockabilly Vol.5    

Truth be told, my memories of the Morris Brothers are pretty hazy;  just some vague recollections of my uncles coming to our house on Franklin Street on Saturday mornings and rehearsing, and Mom always pointing out the band’s billing for the upcoming weekend in the Friday paper. I remember on my sixth birthday, my parents took me along to one of the Morris Brothers shows at the local Moose, and midway thru I was invited to come up on stage and belt out a godawful song I’d been rehearsing all week just for the occasion, “Who Fell Down the Well”.   (After I finished singing, Uncle Mike said “well, he’s got lungs” which cracked Dad up good!)

But I can still remember all those faces in the audience, and wondering how my Dad and his brothers could stand up there & do what they did—but when I finished singing & heard that applause, it all made a lot more sense.

15 comments:

  1. Wow Doug!! First of all this is a fantastic tribute to your Dad and uncles. Secondly, were they ever talented—I listened to both songs. My mum and dad would love this music. I'm going to let them listen to it. This is truly wonderful music and your dad had an amazing vocal range. It must have been so exciting for you as a kid to have a dad who was in a band! And to get the chance to go up on stage with them. Sweet, sweet memories here Doug. Those are some great links you posted too. Thanks so much for sharing. :)

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  2. Wow Chelly, thanks so much for the wonderful feedback! It's funny but growing up, my dad and his brothers playing music was just something us kids took for granted, but the older I get the more I can appreciate what they did.

    My dad recorded a couple more songs a few years later (produced by a bigger recording label) that were much more polished, I was planning to share them in another blog soon. Thanks again for the very kind words Chelly! :)

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  3. Awesome post, Doug! I'd have that poster framed, and on my wall if I were you!

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  4. Thanks David, that means a lot to hear you say that!

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  5. This is a wonderful retro themed post, Doug, and I was impressed with the songs and the fact that they made it onto a couple of albums. Your dad was a handsome guy but I couldn't help but notice your uncle Mike and his sideburns...what a hottie!

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  6. Thanks very much Pam, I was hoping you'd see it! Haha, I know you so well, I thought you'd like that early photo of my Uncle Mike, he was tall & lanky and looks your type :) He's a cool dude!

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  7. Looking forward to hearing more of your dad's tunes! I was reading one of your earlier posts last night about your parents. Your mom and dad seemed so lovely and what a handsome couple they were—they had that film star vibe. And I agree with Pam, Uncle Mike - hubba hubba. :P

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  8. Haha--Chelly, I'll let my Uncle Mike know he got a couple new admirers today! And your words about my parents were very sweet, thank you--not a day goes by that I don't miss them. :)

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  9. LOL - I think Mike was the original "Magic Mike."

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  10. What an awesome story and history!!! I love rockabilly and those songs are right up my alley!

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  11. Thanks very much Darrin, I'm honored sir!

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  12. You're welcome Courtney, I'm glad you liked it :)

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