May 2024

Walking In Light – R.I.P Ian Morris

Ian Morris is found dead in Napier, 05/10/2010

Morris, who was 53, was found dead in Napier on Thursday. He is survived by his wife Kim, daughters Julia and Maude and stepson James.

Th Dudes

L to R - Lez White, Bruce Hambling, Peter Urlich, Ian Morris, Dave Dobbyn

One Saturday in 1976 my mates and I all bundled ourselves into our heap of crap cars and drove from Mangere, South Auckland into the big smoke and watched the Battle of the Bands final. A band we’d never heard of won it. They were called Th’ Dudes. Their prize was a gold Shure Microphone.

They deserved the win. They had a rock star singer/front man in Peter Urlich, an awesomely tight bass and drum combo in Bruce Hambling and Peter Coleman (later replaced by Lez White). There was shy guitar player in the wings called Dave Dobbyn, and Ian Morris, out the front and slinging the guitar as if ready to take on anyone with it.

A little while later I played in a band called Siren and the bass player, Dave Arrowsmith, and I strove to be as good a rhythm section as Hambling and White, we might even have made it on occasion.  My favorite Siren gig was at The Island of Real one night with The Snipes. Th’ Dudes were there to and watched us as we tried to steal their home crowd.

That summer there was a rock concert in South Auckland, at Manurewa down by where the Cosmopolitan Club is now. Hello Sailor headlined. I noticed the guy on the mixing desk was Ian Morris from Th’ Dudes.

Morris was working for Stebbings at this time and his studio career was about to explode.

Morris went on to entrench himself as the gun producer, turning up with credit after credit on some amazing albums.

Back in the late 70’s it was sheer fantasy to think anyone could make a living out of music and there is a reason why it’s possible to do it now. One of those reasons is Th’ Dudes and Ian Morris. They brought a level of professionalism to the scene that was unheard of.

I’ll never forget them refusing to play a concert (I think they were the headline act as well) because the PA was sub-standard.

Promoters were on notice to upgrade or be bypassed. They all upgraded. Better PA’s like the huge Cerwin Vega and JBL rigs  became the norm rather than the exception and Jansen PA80’s were sent back to the practice rooms.

When digital recording was in it’s infancy a clip on the TV music shows appeared. It was Ian Morris as Tex Pistol playing The Game Of Love. It went to Number 1. Morris had nailed digital recording, as he had nailed analog recording, with ease and set a skill level for others to match.

Ian’s production and performance career continued to grow in stature and his name adorns a number of classic Kiwi tracks and albums.

The New Zealand music scene would be so different were it not for the likes of Ian Morris. His talent in my opinion bordered on genius and was obvious from the very start.

It is a huge, huge loss to us that he is gone and his presence will be missed far and wide.

My sympathies go out to all his close friends, and his family. Words cannot make you feel any better, but can let you know that others share your loss.

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