RUSSELL MORRIS – PART 1- 1967- 1981

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Hush (J South) 1967 and Hide and Seek (M van Wyk/D Trevor) – Somebody’s Image 1968

Russell Morris (1948) was born and raised in the working-class suburb of Richmond (Melb) and attended Richmond Primary and Richmond Technical Schools, his father Norman was a WW2 veteran who had been imprisoned by the Japanese and endured the infamous death march from Sandakan to Ranau in Borneo. During the march over two thousand allied troop died of starvation, cruelty, or were murdered at the hands of their captors, and although Norman Morris survived and returned home, he sadly passed away in 1950, when Russell was just two years old. Below Norman Morris

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Russell was raised as a Legacy child by his mother and grandmother, and was inspired by his mother’s collection of Johnny Ray records. His best friend was Max Parker who wagged school with Russel to attend local rock shows, and although he enrolled at Swinburne Technical College to study commerce, he was more interested in rock and roll than debits and credits, and formed his first band, Somebody’s Image in 1966. Below L-R – Russel Morris, Somebody’s Image, The Groop.

The shy, gangly, gap-toothed, sandy-haired 17-year-old was a fan of local band the Groop, local purveyors of the British beat-style music of the Rolling Stones, The Who, Manfred Mann, The Kinks, and The Small Faces, and two of its members, lead singer Ronnie Charles and particularly keyboardist Brian Cadd, were early mentors of the young Russell. After recruiting Les Gough (bass), Eric Cairns (drums), Phil Raphael (guitar), and Kevin Thomas (guitar), Somebody’s Image began appearing as support band at the Groop’s gigs, with Cadd and Charles occasionally joining them on stage, the band’s formation marked the first tentative steps that Russell Morris would take towards a career in music.Below L-R – Go-Set cover featuring RM, Ian Meldrum, Record artwork.

Ian “Molly” Meldrum was the Groop’s roadie before he became a reporter for the weekly pop magazine Go-Set, soon he would ditch his university studies and take up music journalism, ensuring that those groups he particularly liked such as the Groop and the fledgling Somebody’s Image, received favorable coverage in the pages of Go-Set magazine. The band began to develop a strong following around the many Melbourne discos at the time – Thumpin’ Tum, Catcher, Mad Hatter, Berties, Sebastians. Ian Meldrum liked the band and saw the potential of their lead singer with the makings of a seductive vibrato and impressive voice, behind the slightly nasal tones of the young man, Meldrum quickly moved to became the band’s manager, potential record producer, and marketing guru.

Somebody’s Image began their recording career with the single Heat Wave, released on In Records, the pop subsidiary of prominent Melbourne indie label W&G. The Ian Meldrum-produced single was a reasonably convincing cover of the Holland-Dozier-Holland classic originally recorded by Martha and the Vandellas, but it failed to chart, by 1967 Meldrum had assisted the band to secure a contract with EMI Records and in that year, they released their debut top 40 single, a cover of Joe South’s Hush, for a #15 hit. Below – Joe South

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South was quite a prolific tunesmith in the late 60’s and early 70’s writing hits for Billy Joe Royal (Down In the Boondocks), Lyn Anderson (I Never Promised You A) Rose Garden), and himself (Games People Play, Walk A Mile In My Shoes, and Don’t It Make You Want To Go Home), and he was also a talented session muso performing on Bob Dylan’s Blonde On Blonde, and Simon and Garfunkel’s The Sounds of Silence albums. This song had been covered by many artists including Deep Purple, Johnny Hallyday, Blue Suede, and Billy Joe Royal, but the consensus was that the Somebody’s Image version, with its distinctive guitar riffs, and Morris’s authoritative lead vocals, was the best. A lesser known fact about this recording by Somebody’s Image is that they never had a written lyric sheet for the song and copied down what they thought they heard from a record, so the line “ There’s a little girl that’s on my mind/ no doubt about it she looks so fine” was actually recorded thus “There’s a little girl that’s on my mind/We’ve got your body, she looks so fine…” oops!

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They followed up in 1968 with a local composition by Marty Van Wyke (The Throb) and Doug Trevor (The Cherokees), titled Hide and Seek, a flowery, inventive, slice of beguiling pop with nursery-rhyme-simple lyrics, and a catchy refrain, produced by David McKay, it charted #28 and deserved to do better. But this would be the last release by Morris as a member of the band as he responded to the encouragement  of Ian Meldrum to strike out on his own for a solo career.

Russell performs the Somebody’s Image song without the band.

Russell left Somebody’s Image in September ’68, and they recruited new singer/guitarist Brian Holloway (ex-The Dream), with continued support from Ronnie Charles and other Groop friends. It was also the end of the band’s association with Meldrum who by this time was focussed on his plans to groom Russell Morris as a solo megastar, and by late 1969 Somebody’s Image had disbanded. In that year Meldrum and Morris would collaborate on the recording of a Johnny Young song that would become a timeless pop classic, and the biggest-selling local record of the year, just behind the Beatles and the Rolling Stones – that song was The Real Thing.

Welcome to 4TR for 2023, new blogs re-commence today with our first guest star for the year – Russell Morris- we explore his early hits 1967-81 in Part 1, and his late-career best-selling albums 2012 – 2019 in Part 2, your continued support and feedback of 4 The Record is much appreciated.


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