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Russell Morris: Still The Real Thing

[hr]Russell Morris is a music icon in Australia. He has been entertaining audiences for nearly 50 years and is recognised as one of nation’s first singer songwriters. He’s had massive hits and worked with industry stalwarts, travelled the world and retained a passion for his profession and talent. [hr]

Morris began his career as a 17 year old in 1966 dreaming of making the big time. Hanging in the music scene, performing with his local band and talking to the right people, he soon came to the attention of music identity Ian “Molly” Meldrum. Meldrum’s foresight and tenacity helped Morris make the big time with his national Number 1 song The Real Thing, produced by Meldrum and written by Johnny Young, and also topping the charts in Chicago, Houston and New York.

Unlike others who have experienced early success, only to fall from fame, Ross has maintained a respected and steady career. He’s being inducted in the Hall of Fame and had ARIA success. Just last year, his album Sharkmouth won an ARIA award. Made up of self-penned songs about Australia’s notorious and colourful characters and legends, including the likes of gangsters Squizzy Taylor and Shark Jaws, Phar Lap, Les Darcy and infamous graffiti artist Mr. Eternity, it’s a body of work Russell is proud of.

“I’ve always wanted to do an album based on those elusive Australian characters, stories and legends,” Russell says, “My grandmother lived to the ripe old age of 93, and during her lifetime she would always regale me with stories about her youth, and what things were like ‘back then’.”

This year he returned to the charts with songs from his follow-up record Van Diemen’s Land which also tells the story of characters, including the dramatic tales of his father and colleagues who esaped a prisoner of war camp during World War II.

Russell continues to draw great crowds at his live performances. He recently travelled the breadth of the nation on the APIA Good Times tour with Joe Camelleri, Richard Clapton and Leo Sayer, and is now performing the music from his new collection. The Retiree Magazine chatted to him between gigs.

Russell-Morris-1

You started performing in 1966 and by 1969 had a national number 1 hit with The Real Thing. What was it like being at the top of the profession after such a short time? 

It was a surreal feeling after such a short time. It was kind of like riding a wild stallion and hanging on for dear life.

Which Artists do you find most inspiring? 

I have never really focused on one artist-more than anyone else. Music is so diversified-there is inspiration everywhere.

What was it like touring with Joe Camilleri, Richard Clapton and Leo Sayer as part of the Good Times Tour? 

The APIA tour was the four stooges gone wild. There was lots and lots of craziness when we were all together.

You often perform with Brian Cadd and have a long friendship with him? What is it that created that strong mateship? 

Brian and myself have been mates for ages. We have lived overseas and worked together for years. I love him as a guy, and I love his talent as a musician.

Sharkmouth has sold 80,000 copies throughout Australia and the world and you recently released Van Diemen’s Land. How do you best describe each album? 

Sharkmouth was about the back streets and suburbia –mainly. Meanwhile, Van Diemens Land is definitely the bigger, grander picture of events that shaped our lives.

It’s been reported that Sharkmouth and VanDiemen’s Land are parts of a trilogy? How will the third album sound and do you have a title and release date? 

The third album is not underway yet–soon. Direction is still to be determined.

Your songs are usually stories about people. How do you come across stories that inspire you to turn them into songs? 

The stories I write about, are the ones we have usually heard about-the ones that capture our imagination. Sometimes people will tell me an interesting story-something worth writing about.

You’ve been performing for 48 years; how have you maintained such a successful career? 

Maintaining a career is usually hard work-and an enormous amount of good luck.

What’s your most memorable moment when performing live? 

My most memorable moment was receiving the ARIA for Sharkmouth.

If you weren’t a performer, what would you be? 

Probably an archeologist.

Russel Morris’ latest album ‘Van Diemen’s Land available now
Russel Morris’ latest album
‘Van Diemen’s Land available now

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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