Rasta Dandy: Denroy Morgan (above) was arrested for marijuana posessions on Sept. 13 and is now out on bail. His son Roy “Gramps” Morgan says the media is fabricating the story of his father’s arrest.
Veteran Jamaican singer Denroy Morgan, best known for the 1981 reggae-disco hit “I’ll Do Anything For You” and the father of the sibling reggae group Morgan Heritage was arrested on Wednesday, September 13, charged with possession of marijuana.
According to numerous media reports said to have come from police records, Morgan, 66, was seen leaving a Bronx New York house carrying a shrink-wrapped brick of compressed marijuana. Police followed Morgan’s car and pulled him over after he ran a stop sign. The stench of marijuana permeated the vehicle’s interior and after some questioning, two bags of the herb weighing 25 lbs were discovered in the car’s trunk. When police returned to the Bronx house that Morgan had left earlier, they allegedly found 310 lbs of marijuana with an estimated street value between $140,000 and $351,000. Wayne Sway, 46, was also arrested following the search.
On Friday, September 16, Morgan was released on $8,000 bail.
Roy “Gramps” Morgan, the eldest son in Morgan Heritage, has dismissed the widely circulated version of events leading to his father’s arrest as “baloney.” He declined to offer specific details, due to the pending court case, the date of which has not been set.
“That is not what really happened, but that is what the media does; they fabricate stories, because they have to sell papers,” said Gramps, via telephone. “Rastafarians use ’nuff ganja, that is a reality, it is part of our holy sacrament.”
Gramps’ 2009 single “Therapy” featuring India.Arie reached no.22 on the Adult Contemporary chart.
Still in rotation on classic R&B stations Denroy Morgan’s “I’ll Do Anything For You” peaked at no.7 on the Dance chart, No. 9 on the R&B chart some thirty years ago; Ostensibly a pledge of romantic devotion, the song actually affirms Morgan’s commitment to Jah and the Rastafarian faith (video above) Due to the song’s immense popularity, Morgan became the first Jamaican artist signed to RCA Records and he released the “Make My Day” album for the label in 1984. “
Rocking Steady: Denroy Morgan’s early years.
Born in Clarendon, Jamaica, Morgan migrated to New York City in the late 60s. His initial success arrived with the Black Eagles, said to be Brooklyn’s first reggae band. A father of 30 children whom he raised in the Rastafarian way of life, the family was based in Springfield, Massachusetts where the children attended school. Each weekend the Morgan children commuted to Brooklyn with their father to further their musical instruction; recognizing his children’s innate talents, Morgan put aside his career aspirations to nurture their vocal and instrumental development.
At a 1992 press conference in Montego Bay, Jamaica, in association with the now defunct Reggae Sunsplash music festival, Morgan introduced eight of his teenaged children as the reggae group Morgan Heritage. Immediately following their Sunsplash set, Morgan Heritage was signed to MCA Records; their debut album “Miracle” was released in 1994 but the group was dissatisfied with MCA’s lack of support and severed ties with the label. Three Morgan siblings dropped out and Morgan Heritage reemerged in a tighter configuration featuring Roy “Gramps” Morgan on keyboards and vocals; Memmalatel “Mr Mojo” Morgan on percussion and vocals; Nakhamyah “Lukes” Morgan on guitar; Una Morgan, the group’s sole female member, on keyboards and vocals, and Peetah singing lead.
Denroy Morgan repatriated to Jamaica in 1995, settling in the rural parish of St. Thomas and Morgan Heritage followed him back to the island. There they built their reputation as a formidable contemporary roots reggae ensemble with their late ’90s releases for VP Records, most notably “Don’t Haffi Dread”, produced by veteran Bobby Digital. Along with their father, Morgan Heritage was featured in a 1999 Fathers Day segment on the CBS TV’s longstanding news program Sunday Morning. Although the group’s members are now pursuing solo projects, Morgan Heritage nonetheless remains one of reggae’s busiest touring outfits.
Currently, Denroy is steering the very promising career of his 25 year old son, Atlantic/Elektra recording artist Laza (b. Otiyah) Morgan, a sing-jay formerly with Morgan sibling vocal trio LMS. Laza’s duet with British singer (former X Factor contestant) Alexandra Burke topped the UK Singles chart in September 2010. His current pop-dancehall hit “One By One” (written by Peetah Morgan) featuring Mavado has topped several Jamaican charts and is in the early stages of its US radio campaign, says Gramps, who is co-managing his younger brother. Laza’s debut solo album is due in the first quarter of 2012.
On July 19 Denroy Morgan performed in Jamaica for the first time since the late-90s at the popular Kingston venue Studio 38. The occasion was the launch of his most recent album “Link Up To Ethiopia” released on Asaph Records with distribution through VP. Laza Morgan was the special guest, which his father said symbolized the passing of the Morgan musical torch from one generation to another. That night Denroy remarked on the potential crossover appeal of “One By One”. “That song will do for Laza what “I’ll Do Anything For You” did for me so many years ago.”