MONTY MORRIS

Elder statesman of ska, Eric "Monty" Morris, was born in St Andrew Jamaica on July 20th 1944. The young Monty loved music and could often be found at the sound system dances of the 1950s when US style R&B was the order of the day.

Like many fellow legends of the period, such as Alton Ellis and Eric's friend and neighbor Derrick Morgan, he was a contestant on Vere Johns' Opportunity Hour talent show, and began a recording career in 1959. He voiced for Duke Reid, Prince Buster, Byron Lee and Clancy Eccles, repeatedly topping the Jamaican charts.

In 1964, riding on the success of singles Sammy Dead Oh and Oil In My Lamp, he joined an excursion to the New York World's Fair, organized by Edward Seaga, to sing with Byron Lee and the Dragonaires. Sadly, ska failed to capture the imagination of the American public until after the movement had ended, while the "Wild West" mentality of the Jamaican music business, coupled with the singer's soft temperament, left him short of the financial rewards gained by some of his peers, so in 1970 he retired to the United States.

Yet his memory burned strong the minds of the US Caribbean community and he was eventually tempted back to record for the Washington DC Kibwe label in 1988. 1999 even saw a triumphant return to Jamaica after 3 decades for the concert series Heineken Star Time.