BRUCE MORLEY (R.I.P.)

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First published November 2012, last updated October 2013

Bruce passed away on 22nd November 2012 after a long illness.

TRIBUTES

I only met Bruce once ... at the Bay of Islands Jazz and Blues Festival in 2006.... I was able to tell him of an experience I had 40 years earlier in 1966 ..... Goes like this....
I was hitch hiking home to Hastings from rowing practice on the Clive River (between Napier and Hastings) and given a ride by a gentleman. .... In the course of conversation I told him I had started to play the drums in a band ........ He very proudly tells me his son is a top drummer in Auckland..... and if I am in Auckland I should look him up....
It took 40 years to finally catch up with Bruce and let him know that his dad thought he was top drummer..... - Pete Ludlow
The following is part of an email Bruce sent to the Prohibition Big Band back in 2010. A good thing to keep in mind from a man with a lot of experience...

Bruceís rules for local gigs:  
1) There are four basic reasons to do a gig: money, music, experience/practice, or any legit fourth reason - such as trying to get laid, or impress your mother (*)
2) It doesnít matter which reason/s youíre doing the gig for, as long as you understand inside yourself which reason/s youíre doing it for
3) Therefore:
      (a) donít do the gig for money, and complain about the music
      (b) donít do the gig for music, and complain about the money
and (c) if youíre lucky, your name will be Louis Armstrong or Miles Davis J and youíll get both money and music in equally great measure!

Cheers
signed
Uncle Brucie

(*) though probably not both at the same time

- Anton Bruell
I first met Bruce at the 2nd Jazz Festival at Tauranga in 1964 where he & his sextet performed.  Shortly after this he moved to Australia.  I caught up with him when I moved to Australia in 1969.  He wrote a drum quartet which he performed at Sydney Musicians Club around 1970 with Billy Nuku, Roger Sellers & Louis Bellson(!)  Louis Bellson was in Sydney with Tony Bennett performing at the Silver Spade Room of the Chevron Hotel.  Lost touch when he moved back to New Zealand, but caught up again thanks to the internet.  I was able to bring him the sad news of Bob Taylor's passing 4 years ago.  Sincere condolences to his family - John Pickworth
How sad. Bruce and I played together a lot both in N.Z. and Australia.  I enjoyed hearing him again with Bruce Talbot on their collaboration recording from last year.  Good memories.  My best to his family - Bruce Johnstone
Sorry to hear about Bruce Morley; toured with him on a number of shows for Phil Warren including Harry Secombe and, I think, Dick Emery but lost touch after he moved to Kohukohu - Graham Atkinson
Very sad to hear of Bruce's passing.  As well as a talented musician he was a gentleman and all round good guy.  Farewell "Morepork"  - Mal Finlayson
Thanks for letting me know about Bruce's passing.  It's a long time since I'd seen him playing but when I lived in Hamilton during the '70's he often came down from Auckland to play various gigs and he was certainly a great drummer then.  Since coming to Auckland I have read quite a few letters to the NZ Herald sent in by Bruce.  My condolences to his family - Paul Walker
Another fine NZ musician is laid to rest.  I had the great pleasure to work with Bruce in many capacities, amongst them was some major recordings with a variety of top artists, including my own gold and platinum albums over the years.  Apart from that, I booked him to tour with several acts, the most notable being Sir John Dankworth, and Dame Cleo Laine.  Bruce was a consummate reader and technician.  I booked Bruce to do one of my first major concert tours to China, where we played at some of the very best venues, plus major TV and Government events.  These were the first ever concerts by a New Zealand artist and musicians on a commercial basis.  Bruce also toured Australia with me when I played as special guest with Jade Hurley on his Victorian concert tour.  We certainly shared lots of good musical moments and luckily these memories have been captured  on photos and film, plus on recordings.  RIP Bruce - Gray Bartlett MBE
I first met Bruce when he was in ChCh I think for Godspell in the early 70ís.  A great chap with real personality and as we all know a very good drummer.  He always paid me a visit in my old Musical Specialists store in Colombo Street known for its characters and events.  Bruce always had a gag and a story.  RIP Bruce - Nev Claughton
I first met Bruce when he was the drummer for the house band at Phil Warren's Ace Of Clubs in Auckland in the late 60's (or may have been very early 70's).  He was one of music's gentlemen and we remained friends for the rest of his life.  Since I met Bruce I played many a gig with him over the years, the last one being here in Kerikeri about four years ago.  I will remember him as having a wealth of musical knowledge..a walking encyclopedia, especially when it came to jazz.  He toured with many overseas acts, too many to mention them all but I recall his tours with Spike Milligan and Johnny Dankworth / Cleo Laine being among his favourites.  Penny and I will remember him as being an intelligent, witty friend who enjoyed having a meal and a glass of wine with us on many occasions.  Condolences to Sue and the family.  R I P Bruce - Dave Gorrie 
It is always sad to lose a fellow musician.  Sadder when the musician is also a good friend.  I have known Bruce Morley for all 49 years of my music journey.  He was always supportive of younger musicians, myself included, and would offer us advice if he thought we were not quite cutting it.  When Adderley died I called Bruce.  I was in Orlando Florida he was in Auckland and I needed a band.  Without hesitation he said you need to speak with Bruce Kerr but I have the drummer you need I promise you.  Dan Morley was such a cool young cat & he played the rock things better than his Dad.  That is exactly why his father had the confidence in putting him forward for the chair.  Bruce had the paternal joy of watching his son Daniel support LMB in a packed Gluepot Corner Bar the final weekend of the pubs existence.  So glad that happened for both of them.  Bruce was from the same school as Frank & Bruce, these guys could read the fly shit on the wall, and as a consequence Bruce played for a swag of famous artists.  Early in life Bruce realised to succeed in show business you really need to be as nice a person as you can.  Consequently he was a charmer and relationships that began with an artist in the sixties would endure through to the new millennium in some cases.  Cleo Laine & John Dankworth are examples of those enduring friendships that were a part of the tapestry of Bruce's life.  We have lost a true friend, a dry sometimes pompous ass, but a man who cared about his family, his country, his fellow musicians, the planet and waking up to a new morning every day.  You certainly have been a good friend and although I have not seen you often in recent times I will miss you Bruce.  Both yourself & your son always delivered for me & I love you both for it.  Rest in peace Bruce.  Chur doy..... Larry Morris
(email me your tribute to Bruce and I'll add it in - andy@nzmusos.co.nz)

 

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