Sammy Dead gets new life

Sammy Dead gets new life

By Howard Campbell
Observer senior writer

Monday, February 24, 2020

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When Sammy Dead was released in 1964 Jamaica was approaching its second year of independence. It made Eric “Monty” Morris, the man who sang it, a star.

Last November, Morris recorded a version of the ska standard with deejay Mr Davis. They decided to do a collaboration after meeting months earlier at Morris' birthday party in Miramar, South Florida.

It is a big deal for Mr Davis, who remembers listening to the original as a boy in Jamaica. On Tuesday, when Morris is presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Jamaica Reggae Industry Association (JaRIA), he plans to attend the ceremony at Little Theatre in Kingston.

“This is a part of the vison I had for him, to receive this award after re-releasing Sammy Dead back in November. I believe this icon paved the way and needs the recognition he deserves,” said Mr Davis in an interview with the Jamaica Observer.

Both men live in South Florida. Morris, 77, still performs while Mr Davis, who works as a hairstylist for celebrities including Roberta Flack, Orlando Jones and Sean Kingston, made his recording debut two years ago with Tattoo.

Their version of Sammy Dead is co-produced by Chris Martin, Chadrick Johnson and David Anglin. Morris reprises his folksy delivery, accompanied by Mr Davis' rapid-fire toast.

Mr Davis, who is in his late 30s, recalls the song being played in his home when he was a boy in St Mary. After meeting Morris last year, he instantly pitched the idea of a Sammy Dead redux.

“Whenever I stop to think about how we met and where we met, I know for a fact this was ordained. Everything happened so organically,” he said.

Produced by Bryon Lee for Kentone Records, Sammy Dead was among a handful of hit songs Morris cut for Lee, others being Wings of A Dove and Oil in my Lamp.

Though he had a hit with Say What You're Saying, Morris' career waned in the rocksteady era of the mid and late 1960s. He moved to the United States in the 1970s and performed sporadically.

Sammy Dead was Mr Davis' second release for 2019, following Party Up. His latest songs, which include Wi Unruly and Millionaire, are scheduled for release in March.


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