Eric “Monty” Morris was born in Kingston, and grew up at Orange Street and in Trench Town, attending Alvernia Primary School. His meeting and close association with Derrick Morgan, four years his senior, was extremely crucial to his future career. When their focus shifted to music seriously, entering a talent competition occurred to them. This led them to the very popular Vere Johns Opportunity Hour talent competition, at the Palace, Ambassador and Majestic theatres in Kingston during the late 1950s.
Morris didn’t win, but the exposure provided the springboard from which he launched his career and precipitated his first set of hit recordings.
His next move, to producer Prince Buster, was another important step. Again taken there by Morgan, who was fulfilling a request by Buster for help in setting up his business, Morris seized the opportunity to record the 1961 nursery rhyme based song, Humpty Dumpty. Backed by the Drumbago All Stars, the slowed-down, ska-tempo song rode the higher echelons of the Jamaican charts for that year and set in motion a ska craze that took deep root in Jamaica’s music history.
His follow-up, Money Can’t Buy Life, with emphasis on the offbeat, was equally impressive and somewhat changed the whole nature of Jamaican music up to this point.
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 neighbour 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. Ten years later Morris’ son Rohan (Sixy) introduced Monty to the singer/producer Sadiki who became his manager. Together they have created The Living Legends Collection, Morris’ first ever full length album, bearing recuts of his hits.
His “Enna Bella” was used in the soundtrack of the 2003 Jim Jarmusch film Coffee and Cigarettes. His music has been included on many ska and reggae compilations.
Since then “Monty” took a small hiatus from the business to focus on his family life.
2014 saw Eric “Monty” Morris in Germany igniting his fans with his electrifying performance. 2015 has been a tremendous year for Eric “Monty” Morris who toured the USA and was well received by his audiences. “Monty” is looking forward to touring Europe and the rest of the world.