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Bryan Morrison: Highs and lows of a rock ’n’ roll svengali

by ace

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Music mogul Bryan Morrison was a friend, and often an enemy, with the biggest names in the song. (Image: Paul Huf / MAI)

Morrison suffered devastating injuries when he was thrown from his horse during a match on the grounds of the Royal County of Berkshire Polo Club – the prestigious Windsor club he founded and whose first member was his close friend, the Prince of Wales. The businessman never regained consciousness, although he made a final appearance in the gossip columns when it appeared that his wife and lover took turns keeping watch by the bed. When he finally died, the obituaries noticed a well-lived life crowned by a $ 90 million fortune and an involvement in the careers of rock and pop legends, including Pink Floyd, Sir Elton John and George Michael, whose classic Careless Whisper music. Morrison saw when his writer was an 18-year-old stranger.

But a long-lost autobiography, filed in the early 1990s and now resurrected by his son Jamie, former England polo captain, tells the tumultuous story of a man riding a roller coaster from ruin to riches and back, a mustache. to become one of the great quasi men of British music.

Throughout the rock boom years of the sixties and seventies, future big stars like Floyd, Sir Elton, Marc Bolan and Rod Stewart repeatedly slipped between Morrison's fingers before real money arrived.

But Morrison has always been the bon viveur. Those same fingers were invariably found holding one of his trademark cigars.

Pink Floyd's 1975 song Have A Cigar, a sarcastic attack on the greed and insincerity of the music business, may or may not have been inspired by his former manager, but provides the title for his posthumous memories.

bryan morrison

Happy Days… Morrison enjoyed a fruitful union with Michael and Ridgeley (Image: Ruth Killick)

As an ambitious young agent who booked bands for music clubs in the 1960s, Morrison saw the Cambridge psychedelic band as amateur amateurs.

He traveled with them in the US in 1968, where he declined an invitation to dinner with Elvis Presley in favor of a date with "a beautiful long-haired blonde with powerful blue eyes."

That was it, he wrote in Have A Cigar! "Undoubtedly the worst decision I ever made." There was strong competition for this compliment in those years, including the time in 1967, when Rod Stewart asked the fast-rising businessman to manage it, and a very busy Morrison regretfully declined.

A little later, the future Sir Elton also wanted Morrison to face him when he was still fighting Reg Dwight, only to accept a deal from a rival who promised to win anything Morrison would offer for £ 10,000.

Elton sold one in 50 records worldwide in the 1970s.

Glam-rock idol Marc Bolan was another client from 1968 to 1971, before the manager tired of the little star's exaggerated ego, delivering his warning shortly before Bolan became stratospheric.

"He demanded that I show him the same obsequious loyalty that the rest of his friends gave him," Morrison recalled.

The pair had a spontaneous reunion just five days before Bolan's death from a car crash in September 1977, when the singer entered his lap at a party on King's Road, Chelsea, and apologized.

Morrison's move to Pink Floyd ended on a bitter note in 1969 when, having secured the band a triumphant sold-out concert at the Royal Albert Hall, he was brutally fired in the hall immediately after by abrasive bassist Roger Waters.

krays

TOUGH .. Morrison had a brush with the Krays (Image: Getty)

An attempt to guide Floyd founder Syd Barrett's solo career, damaged by drugs, ended when, after a royalty fight, Syd bit Morrison's finger, only letting go of his fist when Morrison punched him in the face, causing him to punch him. for Barrett to fit in. floor.

He wrote to Syd the next day, canceling the contract but retaining the rights to some of his songs. And Pink Floyd was involved in yet another disastrous stroke of luck for Morrison.

As an editor, collecting royalties for composers in exchange for some of the revenue, he struck a deal with Floyd singer David Gilmour.

But as the group prepared to release a new album in 1972, their manager phoned to ask if they could buy Morrison's right to the last song Gilmour should, which should appear on the album.

After refusing several times, Morrison finally named what he believed to be an outrageously high price. Their management agreed, just to make the new album, Dark Side Of The Moon, the fourth largest ever, recording 900 weeks in the United States and selling 45 million copies worldwide.

bryan morrison

Morrison had a convicted beginning with Pink Floyd (Image: MICHAEL OCHS ARCHIVES)

If Morrison had hung on the stake he sold back to the band, he would have reaped millions.

For all his successes, almost imperceptible attempts followed Morrison around. In the late 1960s, he helped bring together the convinced Bee Gees, convincing brothers Barry and Robin Gibb to start writing again.

After putting them in the path of the eventual glory of Saturday Night Fever, he was quickly cut adrift.

In 1978, a deal with Dublin U2 candidates was practically signed until Morrison had lunch with band manager Paul McGuinness and got into a policy discussion. Another almost miss.

Born in a small apartment in Hackney in 1942, Morrison entered the music business in the mid-1960s in London, brimming with talents and aggressive opportunists.

One of the earliest acquaintances was a young Nicholas van Hoogstraten, who would soon become notorious as a cruel owner of millionaire slums.

Van Hoogstraten's main tip for Morrison was to invest in stamps. Surprised to learn that the Penny Blacks were not necessarily valuable, Morrison bought two van Hoogstraten cockroaches and framed them in his office to demonstrate his alleged financial influence.

A week or two later, he arrived at work to find a hole in the brick wall and the practically useless stamps stolen.

During the same period, through an intermediary, Morrison found himself in business with some anonymous "businessmen" who were signing exclusive rights to new music venues at a surprising rate and wanted to work with Morrison's company.

After a few months, he met his new partners and found that they were twins named Ron and Reg.

The Krays left an immediate mark on the young businessman, finding him in a club in Essex and politely saying goodbye to go upstairs and "talk to the manager", who was quickly thrown into the shouts and wounded.

"Another exclusive reserve, Brysey," one of the bandits announced, smiling.

Morrison made excuses and managed to dissolve the partnership the next day.

He went bankrupt in 1979 after a disastrous attempt to build a global brand by the name of fleeting and successful fashion designer Bill Gibb.

He was forced to sell his beautiful 16th century mansion in Surrey and his apartment in Chelsea, moving to a small borrowed place in Barnet, north London, with his young family. But in the 1980s, he recovered by signing deals with rising stars, including George Michael and Paul Weller of The Jam.

George was only 18, but Morrison remembers him as a polite but surprisingly motivated young man.

He later reflected that if he had not signed the Wham! – Andrew Ridgeley is the other half of the duo – it would have been as short-sighted as Decca's famous decision to turn down the Beatles.

The band even made a fan of Queen, Morrison recalled. Knowing the boys in an official capacity, she revealed that she knew all their successes.

True to form, Morrison's relationship with George didn't last. The duo fought the singer's dispute in 1992 with their record label, Sony, and did not speak again, although George's early songs continued to fill Morrison's coffers.

bryan morrison

After opening his own polo club, Morrison rubbed his shoulders with royalty, including Prince Philip (Image: Ruth Killick)

"I don't know much about George's life today," Morrison reflected in his memoirs, written long before the star's death. "It certainly helped to enrich mine."

Weller, on the other hand, Morrison found immensely talented but arrogant.

At a crucial show in California, the angry star fired a crowd of influential American reporters behind the scenes: "I have more important things to do."

In the 1970s, Morrison developed a love for the pole, through which he was introduced into the social orbit of sultans, kings, princes, and tycoons.

He used to play with Prince Charles, who observed Morrison's cigar smoking habit and later presented him with a box – an unwanted gift from Cuban leader Fidel Castro.

The music manager once collided with the prince on the polo field, tossing Charles to the ground where he lay motionless for 30 seconds before finally opening his eyes unharmed.

"I thought you killed the future king of England very well!" Announced referee Major Ronald Ferguson, father of Prince Andrew's ex-wife Sarah.

The incident frighteningly anticipated Morrison's own demise.

On July 16, 2006, he was playing friendly when his horse tripped and was thrown to the ground. Two years later, in September 2008, he died after contracting a virus in a nursing home.

• Have a cigar! by Bryan Morrison (Quiller Publishing Ltd, £ 20.00). For free UK delivery, call Express Bookshop at 01872 562310 or send a Check / Mailbox to Express Bookshop: Morrison Offer, PO Box 200, Falmouth TR11 4WJ or visit expressbookshop.co.uk

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