Richard Edwin Morrissey was born May 9, 1940 in Horley, England. Better known to the world as Dick Morrissey, he was self-taught and started playing clarinet in his school band, The Delta City Jazzmen, at the age of sixteen with fellow pupils Robin Mayhew, Eric Archer, Steve Pennells, Glyn Greenfield and young brother Chris on tea-chest bass. He then joined the Original Climax Jazz Band. This stint he followed with becoming a member of the Gus Galbraith Septet and was introduced to Charlie Parker by alto-sax player Peter King. This prompted him to begin specializing on tenor saxophone.
Making his name as a hard bop player, Dick appeared regularly at the Marquee Club in 1960 and recorded his first solo album for Fantana Records It’s Morrissey, Man! the next year at the age of 21. It featured pianist Stan Jones, drummer Colin Barnes, and The Jazz Couriers founding member bassist Malcolm Cecil.
Spending most of 1962 in Calcutta, India as part of the Ashley Kozak Quartet, he played three 2-hour sessions seven days a week. Returning to the UK Dick formed a quartet with Harry Smith, Phil Bates, Bill Eyden, Jackie Dougan or Phil Seamen. They recorded three albums between 1963 and 1966,played regular gigs at The Bull’s Head and Ronnie Scott’s, and played with Ian Hamer, South and
During this time he also played extensively in bands led by Ian Hamer and Harry South, The Six Sounds, performed briefly with Ted Heath’s Big Band, John Dankworth and his Orchestra, was a part of Eric Burdon and The Animals Big Band with Stan Robinson, Al Gay, Paul Carroll, Ian Carr, Kenny Wheeler and Greg Brown.
He would go on to tour and/or record with visiting musicians Brother Jack McDuff, Jimmy Witherspoon, J. J. Jackson, Sonny Stitt and Ernest Ranglin. He would win many Melody Maker Jazz Polls, toured and recorded with Average White Band, team up with guitarist Jim Mullen of Brian Auger’s Oblivion Express and released seven albums of their 16-year association.
Throughout his career as a leader of his own combos, Morrissey he was an in-demand musician playing with Tubby hayes, Bill LeSage, Roy Budd, Charlie Watts, Georgie Fame, Anie Ross, Dusty Springfield, Paul McCartney, Freddie Mack, Orange Juice, Herbie Mann, Shakatak, Peter Gabriel, David Fathead Newman, Boz Scaggs, Johnny Griffin, David Sanborn, Steve Gadd, Richard Tee, Billy Cobham, The Brecker Brothers, Sonny Fortune, Teddy Edwards and the list of players goes on and on. He is known for playing the haunting saxophone solo on the Vangelis composition Love Theme for the 1982 film Blade Runner.
Tenor saxophonist Dick Morrissey, who also played soprano saxophone and flute, passed away on November 8, 2000, aged 60, in Kent, England after many years battling various forms of cancer.