What to say about Ian?
One of my oldest and best mates, Peter Urlich, who is of course absolutely shattered by the news, and was so close to Ian, has said it so much better than I ever could or have the right to say:
At this moment I’m waiting to wake from a terrible dream. I have just lost my oldest and dearest friend, Ian Morris. The cruel fact is that only in these moments, do you truly realise how important a mate like that is. If I were a house, one side of me has just collapsed. Ian was one of the foundations of me. He possessed a talent that I was in awe of; he had a staggering intelligence that had few equals; his mind was scalpel sharp but his heart was soft; and we shared a sense of humour that I thought we would trade until we were wizened old men. (I recognise these attributes also in David Joseph Dobbyn). The two of them found each other in Form 1, Sacred Heart College, 1968 — a pair of slightly nervous freshmen, who only had music to fight off the bullys. And I found them at the same time.. Thank God! I cannot begin to accurately describe what those two men mean to me. And now one of them has gone.
Ian, I loved the way you played guitar, I loved the way you played with my boys Joe and Stan: I loved your immaculate taste in music.
I cherished that we were so in tune that we didn’t need words.Thank you for all of your wisdom. I can’t remember when you were actually wrong. Thank you for your the fact that you would have forgiven me anything. That goes for me too. And thank you so much for choosing me to be your lead singer..
Ian was a mate. I think he was a mate to many. I knew him fairly well but we were not close, unlike Peter. We talked often online, mostly of music and people we knew. He was funny and very witty. And opinionated.
It was a friendship that went back to the mid seventies, to the years before Th’Dudes when he, Peter & Dave were playing around, trying to form bands and just play and make music.
Which is, despite others having better words, why I’ve written this. For all the eulogies of Ian as a songwriter and member of an iconic New Zealand rock’n’roll institution, perhaps his greatest musical contribution has been overlooked, that as perhaps the most important recording engineer and producer of his generation.
The number of records that carry the name ‘Ian Morris’ in the credits just staggers (and the list at that link is hugely incomplete) and defined a whole decade. From Hello Sailor’s first two albums, Graham Brazier solo, DD Smash, Greg Johnson, The Warratahs, Pop Mechanix, Dave Dobbyn, Naked Spots Dance and much much more.
Ian was perhaps New Zealand’s first proper ‘producer’ as we know it now, producing a record rather than being, as most were before, an executive engineer (and to be fair, there were many very good executive engineers) and inspired many others.
An Ian Morris production was noticeably and identifiably an “Ian Morris” record. They had a sound and it was a sound that worked. For me, he produced the only album by The Screaming Meemees. The sessions were uproarious — rather out of control and bourbon soaked. It was at these that he met Kim, his wife.
I talked to him several times over the years about remixing these, as recently as a few months ago — it was his idea, as he felt the album was unfinished and didn’t want to leave it that way, although I guess that’s the way it will now stay.
However, when we remastered Paradise for digital release late last year, the remasterer, Alan Jansson, no studio slouch himself, was blown away by the audio depth and quality of the recording (also a tribute to the original engineer, Steve Kennedy) of the original which still sounds as vaguely ahead of its time as it did when released.
So thanks Ian, and bye. I liked you hugely. I respected you as much. Cheers.