He was a jazz
saxophonist born Richard Edwin Morrissey in Horley,
Surrey, England, who began by teaching himself the clarinet and performing in his high school
band when he was sixteen.
He went on to
become a member of the Original Climax Jazz Band before moving on to the
Gus Galbraith Septet where he was introduced to the work of Charlie Parker
by the band’s saxophonist.
This was when he began to concentrate on the tenor saxophone and in
1960 managed to land himself a regular spot at the Marquee Club in London.
In 1961 he
recorded his debut album It’s
Morrissey, Man! on the Fontana label and the next year he went to India where he performed with the Ashley Kozak Quartet in Calcutta.
The work was intensive in that they performed sessions that lasted 2
hours each, three times a day, seven days a week.
On his return
to the UK he established the Dick Morrissey Quartet with the pianist he
worked with in India, Harry South. They were joined by two previous
members of The Jazz Couriers.
They went on to perform gigs at Ronnie Scott’s and The
Bull’s Head in Barnes, London and recorded Have You Hear? In 1963, Storm
Warning! in 1965 and Here and Now and Sounding Good! in
1966. At the same time he
was a guest musician on What the
Dickens! By Johnny Dankworth & his
Orchestra and performed with bands such as Ted Heath’s Big Band, the
Harry South Big Band and The Six Sounds which evolved into the Ian Hamer Sextet.
Another band he appeared with for their one and only public event
was The Animal’s Big Band in 1965.
In 1966 and
1967 he was the second place winner in the Melody Maker Jazz Poll and he
started to become very sought after to tour and/or record with many British
and American artists over the rest of the 1960s and the first few years of
the 1970s. Also in 1966 he made
his final appearance as a solo artist at the National Jazz Festival in Windsor.
the jazz-rock band if in
1969 with the guitarist Terry Smith.
They appeared at the National Jazz Festival in 1972 and went their
own ways in 1975. Following
their split he toured with Alexis Korner in Germany and then recorded with the Average White
Band as well as going on a tour of the US with them.
acquainted with the guitarist Jim Mullen and they formed the duo
Morrissey-Mullen. Their debut
album Up! was
recorded in New York in 1976 and after returning to the UK they added several new members to become
a highly recognised jazz fusion band. Over their 16 year career they
released seven albums and Morrissey and Mullen worked in collaboration on
their respective solo recordings.
He also performed with several of his musician friends in Ian
Stewart’s band Rocket 88 in the late 1970s. Morrissey-Mullen decided to disband
their band in 1985 although carried on occasionally working together on
In 1983 he
released After Dark, in 1986 it
was his Soliloquy, in 1988 Resurrection Ritual appeared on the
shelves and in 1989 the live album Love
Dance came out
course of his career he worked with numerous top artists with just a few of
them including Brian Auger, Michael Brecker,
Randy Brecker, Duncan Browne, Jack Bruce, Roy
Budd, Hoagy Carmichael, Ian Carr, Billy Cobham,
Jim Diamond, Steve Gadd, Michael Garrick, Tubby Hayes, J.J. Jackson, Peter King, Herbie Mann, Zoot Money,
David “Fathead” Newman, Gary Numan,
Orange Juice, Spike Robinson, Demis Roussos,
David Sanborn, Boz Scaggs,
Shakatak, Sniff ‘n’ the Tears, Soft
Machine, Dusty Springfield, Sonny Stitt, Richard
Tee and Charlie Watts and many others.
As you can
imagine, his album output with other artists and groups was huge and a
select few of them are Song of Seven
by Jon Anderson, AWB by the
Average White Band, Face to Face
by Barclay James Harvest, Groove
Approved by Paul Carrack, Sound
Venture by Georgie Fame, Peter Gabriel (3) by Peter Gabriel, 3 Hearts in the Happy Ending Machine by Daryl Hall, Work of Heart by Roy Harper, Double Diamond by if, Friends of Mr. Cairo by Jon & Vangelis, Give My Regards to Broad Street by
Paul McCartney, Night-Birds by Shakatak and Confessions
of a Pop Group by Style Council.
years he was hampered by suffering from different cancers but he insisted
on maintaining his performances.
He played to packed houses at The Alma pub in Deal, Kent and gave his final performance as a
member of the Morrissey-Mullen Band at Deal’s Astor Theatre.
He passed away in November 2000 when he was 60 years old
leaving a legacy of being one of Britain’s
finest jazz improvisers.
Peter Gabriel Recordings
Games Without Frontiers (Peter
(Charisma CB 354)(UK45)