Forever associated with the 1960s psychedelic classic The Real Thing, Russell Morris’s career stretches back over 50 years. Variously described as both legend and icon, he was inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame in 2008.
Morris makes a very welcome return to Bendigo on Friday, February, 10.
Released in 1969, The Real Thing is very much of its time, but unusual for its time for coming in at a very radio-unfriendly seven minutes. The public weren’t concerned though – it ended up the biggest-selling Australian single of 1969, and a number one in several US cities including New York. The Real Thing is a much-loved, oft-played, enduring Aussie classic.
Morris hasn’t rested on his laurels though. In recent years he’s visited and revisited Australian history and themes in his songs. His 2012 album Sharkmouth was the first in a musical trilogy retelling and re-imagining Australian stories – some well-known (Phar Lap, the great depression), some less so.
Sharkmouth won an ARIA for best blues and roots album in 2013. Morris followed it with Van Diemen’s Land, which explored more iconic Australian characters and stories such as the Eureka Stockade, Breaker Morant, and Sandakan.
“Van Diemen’s Land … an amazing experience to make,” Morris said of the second album in the trilogy. “With the success of Sharkmouth, it really let me off my leash so to speak. It showed me that people want music that tells them a story and moves them.”
The trilogy was completed in 2015 with Red Dirt – Red Heart, which debuted at number 6 on the national ARIA charts. It tells a colourful story of the Australian interior – from early indigenous times to bushrangers, to the Nullabor.
The trilogy was a labour of love for Morris. “I spent over a year researching these great Australian stories. These albums are about looking back at the characters that deserve to be remembered and then doing that in the best way I know how – through song. It’s about leaving a legacy. In 50 years’ time, someone can put these records on and learn something about the spirit of our great country, in the same way we do when we read The Man From Snowy River.”
Russell Morris has worked with rock and pop royalty over the years, including The Bee Gees, The Beach Boys, Cher and Linda Ronstadt as well as local icons like Joe Camilleri, Ross Hannaford, Troy Cassar-Daley, Renee Geyer, and Vika and Linda Bull.
Factoring in collaborations and compilations, Morris has released over 20 albums in a distinguished career.
Russell Morris plays Bendigo’s Capital Theatre on Friday, February, 10. Support comes from the evergreen Chris Wilson.