Eric “Monty” Morris is a Ska legend. He is considered to be one of the Godfathers of Ska. Morris was the original vocalist for The Skatalites.
Eric “Monty” Morris is recognized in Jamaica, alongside Laurel Aitken and Derrick Morgan as a primal ska performer. In 1961 he recorded a medley of nursery rhymes as “Humpty Dumpty” providing the vocals to Arkland Drumbago Parks All Star Band’s shuffling beat. The song proved a phenomenal success and is regarded as pivotal in the progress of Jamaican music, introducing the emphasis on the half beat in comparison to earlier local recordings which simply mirrored American R&B.
Morris recorded an abundance of hits throughout the first half of the 60s, most notably “What A Man Doeth”, “Sammy Dead”, “Money Can’t Buy Life”, “Into My Garden”, “Enna Bella” and “Oil In The Lamp” (A Little More Oil In My Lamp). At the beginning of the Jamaican music industry many singers received a single fee for their performance in the studio. This motivated singers to record for anyone who would pay. Morris was no exception, and he recorded several tracks including “Seek And You Will Find”, “Home Sweet Home” and “River Come Down” for Vincent Edwards. The singer also found success with Leslie Kong who released the favored “Solomon A Gundy” alongside “Strongman Sampson” (Sampson Was The Strongest Man), while sessions with Neremiah Reid resulted in “Words Of Wisdom”, “Supper In The Gutter” and “Words Of My Mouth”. In the latter half of the 60s several commentators considered that while Morris was an esteemed ska singer he would not adapt to the new sound of rocksteady. Adding the “Monty” tag to his name the singer proved the critics were mistaken with the sublime, “Say I’m Back” and the defiant “Last Laugh”. By 1970 Morris had left Jamaica, and did not return until 1998 when he was invited to appear at the monthly Heineken Startime Show Series held in Halfway Tree. The singer had not performed live for over 15 years. Critics were in agreement that his appearance was the highlight of the event!
Raring and ready to go is the best way to describe Eric “Monty” Morris’s current state of mind. In 2008 at The Dub Club in Los Angeles, backed by the The Allentons, Morris dazzled the audience with his infectious ska grooves and strong stage presence. He returned to Los Angeles again in 2009 for another performance with The Allentons at the Sugacane Lounge.
With the completion of his first solo album after over 50 years in the industry, Morris is raring and ready. The new album, part of a series called “The Living Legends Collection” (Buckley Records), offers up brand new recordings of classic Morris hits such as “Penny Reel”, “Sammy Dead”, “Strongman Sampson”, “Oil in My Lamp”, plus seven other classic Morris songs. The first single from the project, “Into This Beautiful Garden (2011 Version),” features singer/Producer and songwriter Sadiki and was released on March 1st in digital format. The full-length album was released on March 29th, 2011. Following the release of his first album, Eric Monty Morris made his first trip to Europe. Backed by the Saloon Soldiers, Morris performed to a capacity crowd at the prestigious McCormack’s Ballroom in Leipzig, Germany. California and other US dates have since followed in 2012