Photo: Beth Kingston
Morris 'Blacka' Morwell founded The Morwells with Eric 'Bingy Bunny' Lamont in 1973. Both had grown up in the Ghost Town area of Trenchtown and had been friends since schooldays.
Bingy Bunny had already made records with Bongo Herman for Derrick Harriott gaining considerable success with 'Know For I' released in the UK on Songbird in the early seventies. Bingy then joined Blacka and his brother Icewater to form The Morwells.
They released their first record 'Peanut Vendor' (also known as 'Prophecy' by Little Roy) which was successful enough for them to continue.
'You Got To Be Holy' and 'Mafia Boss' followed in 1974, two really good roots tunes. A connection with the West London based Sir Jessus record label and sound gave them a very big seller in the UK in 1975 with the wonderful 'Bit By Bit'.
It was followed in the UK (in 75) by a recut of The Melodians 'Swing And Dine'. Produced in the same relaxed style of 'Bit By Bit'. Their first album was then released in Jamaica. 'Presenting' a great set with sleevenotes by Gregory Isaacs. A dub set called 'Dub Me' came out around the same time.
More hits followed in Jamaica including 'Proverbs' and 'Run Baldhead Run' both released in 1976. Eventually in 1978 came the release of the their first UK album 'Crab Race' on Burning Sounds. Included were all the big hits like 'Bit By Bit' plus another cut of 'Peanut Vendor'.
Clement Bushay - Bushays label released the group next set 'Cool Runnings' in 1979. This album featured the band in a more late rockers early dance hall style.
1979 also saw the group release its biggest hit since 'Bit By Bit' the excellent 'Kingston 12 Toughie' issued on Trojan in the UK on a 12".
The album of the same name was released a year later on Carib Gems.
In 1981 the Nighthawk label released 'The Best Of The Morwells' featuring mainly a selection of late seventies works from the group. Including 'We Want To Go Back Home', 'They Hold Us Down' 'Educate Your Mind' and 'Young Lover'.
The Morwells were part of the small band/vocal group tradition of Jamaican that includes the likes of The Gladiators. More often than not they were backed up the by best in the music, but were always involved somewhere in the music on their own productions and others. Blacka was at one time an arranger for Joe Gibbs claiming to have brought Culture into the business.
In recent years only a small part of The Morwells music as been available with the best example being the excellent dub set 'Dub Me' released by Blood & Fire in 1997.
Bingy's work with The Roots Radics drew him away from The Morwells. When Bingy died. It was a major loss to the music, and now the comes the passing of Blacka, who died in New York of cancer died at 10:35 a.m., Thursday, October 12. He passed in Methodist Hospital, Park Slope, Brooklyn, with Karen (common-law wife) and brother Roland at his side. Cause of death was adenocarcinoma and subsequent heart attack. (Info: Source Jammin Reggae Archives - www.niceup.com)
Sincere condolences are sent by Small Axe to the family and friends of Blacka Morwell.