Howard Morrison: Howie the Maori/Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town (1982)

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Howard Morrison: Howie the Maori/Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town (1982)

The late Sir Howard Morrison was a complex character. He was a master of self-placement in the public domain (at Michael Jackson's side when the singer visited) and although some skewered him for snuggling up to politicians and dignitaries, he was also a populist and popular figure, and someone who throughout his life quietly -- and sometimes overtly -- advanced various Maori causes.

He often used his fame for others as much as himself. 

The famous Howard Morrison Quartet in the Fifties and Sixties released many songs in te reo -- many more than some might care to acknowledge -- and he wasn't above political jibes in his solo career either, as in this piece.

Those who know the background would note that Mori the Hori had been a Quartet song but here Howard rejigs it to suit his own purposes. But during the course of the medley he takes pokes at politicians (see here also, from two decades previous) and the All Blacks' weak pronunciation in the haka.

I interviewed Morrison only a couple of times (on the phone) and he had a rare ability to simultaneously sound condescending and familiar, arrogant but personable, authoritative and cautious, puffed-up and humble. I liked him. He was Uncle Howie and Sir Howard at the same time.

On his death there was a reconsideration of his broad legacy as an entertainer who brought cultures together while never resiling from his Maori heritage. His role as a socio-political figure is yet to be analysed.

Meantime though, here -- from a concert in Founders Theatre in Hamilton in mid '82 -- is Howard being another version of himself. And entertaining.

For more oddities, one-offs or songs with an interesting backstory use the RSS feed for daily updates, and check the massive back-catalogue at From the Vaults.

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