Chris Morley

Chris died in Manchester on April 24th after a full and a very musical life.

Chris Morley
Taken at a Red Herrings Gig at Morston, North Norfolk in 2008 – credit A Helsdon

Whether it was sawing a lorry in half to make a bigger campervan, spotting an antique going for less that its value, acting as Tour manager or, most of all, making wonderful music alone or with others, Chris did it all with style and enthusiasm!

Rod Stradling had recently said that as the leader of the East Suffolk Country Band, he gave outsiders access to the traditional music and song of east Suffolk.

Alongside Suzie and Bobby Hanna, he and Karen made up Red Herrings and played many years and many places and gave many audiences an evening to remember.  The precision of his melodeon playing never got in the way of the spirit of whatever kind of music he was playing and as a ceilidh band Red Herrings were a Caller’s delight in the way they lifted the dancers’ feet all evening.

Chris was a trained chef who had worked in a top London kitchen and you were always well fed if lucky enough to be invited to eat with him.  He took great pride in producing beautiful meals right up to the time the tumour and the treatments robbed him of his sight. 

Another non-musical delight was his and Karen’s allotment in first Norwich and then Glossop.  Here, like everything else in his life, all was ordered, well-tended and produced excellent results that he was delighted to share.

He was diagnosed as having a brain tumour late last year and, typical of the man, decided to fight it rather than give in.  Chris fought long and hard against his failing health and the effects of radiation therapy but was unable to repeat his remarkable recovery from throat cancer of a few years ago.  He spent his last few weeks in a Hospice in Manchester, visited every day by Karen despite traffic then Lockdown.

Fiddle and melodeon, mandolin and voice, saucepan and spade, Chris Morley wielded them all with tremendous skill but his playing, singing, growing and cooking days are finished; Service is ended and we are all the richer, however we remember him.

Alan Helsdon was a friend of Chris’s and the obituary above has been written by him. It appears also on the Mustrad website and we are grateful that he has also shared it with EATMT. Alan called for 65 of Red Herrings’ Ceilidhs between 2001 and 2014.

Rod Stradling, in his online Mustrad (Musical Traditions) magazine writes about the King’s Head Folk Club in Islington 1968-1970 (Article MT273) where Chris and often the East Suffolk Country Band was resident. He credits Chris for having properly introduced the residents there to Phoebe Smith who was a guest at the folk club in January 1969.

EATMT would like to put together an article about the East Suffolk Country Band. If any of our dear readers would like to contribute to this article, we’d love to hear from you (info@eatmt.org.uk).