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 favoured “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. Morris was re-discovered in New York by Max Romeo who sought out the ska legend to perform at his show. 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.