18 Jan 2023

New Zealand singer songwriter Larry Morris has died

3:48 pm on 18 January 2023
Larry Morris

Larry Morris who led hit-making band Larry's Rebels in the 1960s has died. Photo: Grant Gillanders (Frenzy Music Productions)

New Zealand singer and songwriter Larry Morris, who fronted the hit-making band Larry's Rebels in the 1960s, has died.

Larry's Rebels was a garage rock group from Ponsonby, formed in 1964.

Their best-known song "Let's Think Of Something" won a 1967 Apra Silver Scroll award, and they had several hit singles in both New Zealand and Australia.

Larry's Rebels released seven Top 20 records and toured with high-profile international acts before Morris quit the band in 1969.

One Larry's Rebels concert at Western Springs in Auckland attracted 18,000 fans.

RNZ interviews with Larry Morris

In 2017, Morris told Trevor Reekie on The Mixtape that it was a wonderful band.

"The thing with bands, not all the time, but a lot of the time there is a magic that comes with that line-up of people, I believe the Rolling Stones definitely had that, Hello Sailor definitely had that same thing.

"When you take the individuals away they're not so good on their own, but when you put them together there is a magic."

Larry's Rebels "had that chemistry in spades" and Morris said his greatest regret was leaving the band to go solo which was a very bad career move.

Morris put the band's first number one hit down to a deal he made with Radio Hauraki's founder David Gates, at a point when Hauraki was still a pirate station operating offshore from the ship Tiri.

Gates told him they needed to feed the workers on board the Tiri and asked Morris if Larry's Rebels could do a concert at Albert Park where attendees would bring a can of food as the only entry fee.

In return Gates promised Morris that Radio Hauraki would become a legal station which would deliver Larry's Rebels its first local number one hit.

The concert went ahead attracting about 2500 people and truckloads of food was received, Morris said.

"Hauraki got their licence, this is subsequently within a year, they got their licence, they started broadcasting from downtown and we got our first number one - 'It's not true', Pete Townsend's song," Morris said.

"In those days and because they were a new station, it had nothing to do with record sales, it had to do with the deal that he was good enough to do with me on a handshake and he stuck with that."

Larry's Rebels covered many overseas recordings and the band would listen to hundreds of overseas singles to work out which songs to do, Morris said.

Larry's Rebels toured with renowned international acts such as The Animals, The Yardbirds, Tom Jones, Dave Dee and The Walker Brothers.

Morris said getting along with everyone was a key to being able to tour with international acts.

The band toured with The Easybeats in April 1967, which was great, Morris said.

"We went on tour throughout Australia with them and they'd come home very successful with 'Friday on my mind' first number one internationally for any Australian act.

"So we were hanging onto their coat tails so to speak and we couldn't really go wrong, it was just chock a block everywhere we played."

Larry's Rebels were a great live band which delivered, Morris said.

Even after he left the band Morris said he remained in the music industry.

"In my heart, I've always been a musician and that's what I will remain," Morris said in December 2007.

In 2017 when he was almost 70, Morris said his love for performing continued.

"I've been doing it 52 years now and the love for it is just the same as it was when I was with Larry's Rebels as a 16-year-old, I just really love getting out there and entertaining people and singing my arse off."

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