A Tribute to Tommy Morgan (1932 – 2022)

I met Tommy Morgan when I travelled to Denver in 2001 for my first visit to a SPAH convention. My friend Douglas Tate had just become President of SPAH and I was the new Chairman of Harmonica UK (then the NHL). Two proud Yorkshiremen guiding two great organisations.

Douglas and Tommy were friends as was evident from their workshops and concerts. I stayed in email contact with Tommy up to the end, finally through Tommy’s great friend Jon Kip.

Tommy’s long history and musical activities have been well chronicled in the obituaries listed below. He took up chromatic harmonica at school and was fortunate to have lessons from Jerry Adler, who later got him his first recording session. After spells with the U.S. Air Force band and tours on his own throughout the 1950s Tommy built up his musical skills from arrangers like Sammy Nestico and a Masters Degree from UCLA. He also added the chord and bass harmonicas to his armoury. Tommy’s site reading improved and he began to set up his own recording sessions.

The 1960s was the beginning of the Golden Age of film and TV themes and producers were looking for harmonica players. Tommy had the skills and would tackle anything. He became the “go-to” man for recording sessions, something he did for decades. Tommy said he had done over 900 film scores and 7000 recording sessions.

By the end of the 1990s work was slowing down and he had more time for his family and flying activities – he flew a glider for over 40 years. Tommy got more involved with the music in his local church. This was when he started recording his CDs, Songs of Faith, Christmas and Classics Lite Volume 1 and 2.

In 2000 another career door opened. Tommy agreed to become the chromatic player for a Trio, the Harmonica Aces,  with Danny Wilson (bass harmonica) and Michael Burton (chord harmonica) for a couple of cruises. It went well and it opened up the door for Tommy to establish himself as a top act on the Cruise Circuit.

Tommy maintained his links with John Barry and he recorded the album “John Barry and the Beyondness of Things” with him at Abbey Road Studios in London.

Tommy’s career came to an end in 2013 following a severe stroke. After a lot of intensive physiotherapy and support he regained his mobility and speech. His skill on the harmonica never returned but his reputation will stay forever. He wanted to write a biography and with help of voice recognition programs he made it – just in time.

He called it “You Made How Much For Doing What?

Here are some more resources about Tommy Morgan

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