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Bill Morrissey, RIP

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Don't know if you guys caught the news but Bill Morrissey, an American folksinger who I considered to be simply the best damn songwriter out there, died on July 23rd. I mention it here because throughout his career, he was an Epiphone Texan guy. In fact, he's the reason I went out and bought the IB'64 Texan.

 

It appears he died of heart disease in some motel in Georgia. In the past few years, he's battled bi-polar disorder and "the booze," as he referred to it. But he'd beaten it and the audience reviews of his recent shows were glowing. It seemed odd to hear he had died in his sleep of heart disease. Then again, that's something a character in one of his songs might do.

 

He was profiled in "Acoustic Guitar" magazine back in '96, and in their "Gearbox" section, they wrote:

 

Bill Morrissey has always been "a sucker for Epiphones." On stage he plays a 1968 Texan sunburst model. "I like how small the neck is," he says. "It's just easy for me to play." A couple of years ago, while on tour with his friend Greg Brown, Morrissey came across a 1963 Texan, factory sealed. It stays at his home, with his Guild 35, his first "real" guitar.

 

I actually got to play his '68 Texan once, in the green room of the Cedar Cultural Center in Minneapolis after a show. I went back there to get him to sign a copy of his just-published novel, "Edson," and he was back there alone and welcomed me in and we got to talking about guitars (at the time, I owned a '66 J-45) and he handed me his Texan and I'll have to say it sounded great and I loved the longer scale-length. We had a nice chat.

 

He also told me the story about buying the '63 Texan. Said he and Brown were in Montana or Wyoming or somewhere out west and some old lady had the guitar and was willing to sell it cheap so he snapped it up. And the AC bit about his Guild never leaving home wasn't entirely accurate; I saw him play three times and twice, he had the Guild. He'd switch between it and the Texan.

 

If you're into literate music and like some humor thrown in every now and then, check out his albums. He helped bring this player to the Epiphone fold and he inspired me to get serious about my own song writing. I'm a finalist in the Big Top Chautauqua Songwriter of the Year competition next month up in Washburn, Wisc., and I'm going to have to try channeling a bit of Bill Morrissey when I perform.

 

We'll miss him.

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Don't know if you guys caught the news but Bill Morrissey, an American folksinger who I considered to be simply the best damn songwriter out there, died on July 23rd. I mention it here because throughout his career, he was an Epiphone Texan guy. In fact, he's the reason I went out and bought the IB'64 Texan.

 

It appears he died of heart disease in some motel in Georgia. In the past few years, he's battled bi-polar disorder and "the booze," as he referred to it. But he'd beaten it and the audience reviews of his recent shows were glowing. It seemed odd to hear he had died in his sleep of heart disease. Then again, that's something a character in one of his songs might do.

 

He was profiled in "Acoustic Guitar" magazine back in '96, and in their "Gearbox" section, they wrote:

 

Bill Morrissey has always been "a sucker for Epiphones." On stage he plays a 1968 Texan sunburst model. "I like how small the neck is," he says. "It's just easy for me to play." A couple of years ago, while on tour with his friend Greg Brown, Morrissey came across a 1963 Texan, factory sealed. It stays at his home, with his Guild 35, his first "real" guitar.

 

I actually got to play his '68 Texan once, in the green room of the Cedar Cultural Center in Minneapolis after a show. I went back there to get him to sign a copy of his just-published novel, "Edson," and he was back there alone and welcomed me in and we got to talking about guitars (at the time, I owned a '66 J-45) and he handed me his Texan and I'll have to say it sounded great and I loved the longer scale-length. We had a nice chat.

 

He also told me the story about buying the '63 Texan. Said he and Brown were in Montana or Wyoming or somewhere out west and some old lady had the guitar and was willing to sell it cheap so he snapped it up. And the AC bit about his Guild never leaving home wasn't entirely accurate; I saw him play three times and twice, he had the Guild. He'd switch between it and the Texan.

 

If you're into literate music and like some humor thrown in every now and then, check out his albums. He helped bring this player to the Epiphone fold and he inspired me to get serious about my own song writing. I'm a finalist in the Big Top Chautauqua Songwriter of the Year competition next month up in Washburn, Wisc., and I'm going to have to try channeling a bit of Bill Morrissey when I perform.

 

We'll miss him.

 

 

I admit that I've never heard of him until now. I'll try to check out some of his recordings. Sorry to hear of his passing.

 

Red 333

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hello, thanks for this post. Bill was a very good friend. I discovered his music back in 1996 and presented him three times in Paris in my Acoustic in Paris series (http://www.mysongwriters.com/Archives.htm). It took me 15 years to havehis novel "Edson" published in France but I did it and the book was published in January 2010. Any country or language would have made his day, but I think Bill was particularly happy that it was in France!

 

I have posted some of the videos I shot in Brussels when Bill played there after Paris. There are only some clips of Bill on YT, and except for offical recordings with slideshows, most are terrible, as Bill was not always in a great shape... So I'm happy to post those. Sorry we can't see the guitars as I zoomed in a bit too much on his face. At least the image is stable and he's cleans shaven ;-)

 

http://youtu.be/F7V601P0rVw

 

Talking about guitars, I'll be the proud owner of his second Epiphone Texan in November when I fly from Paris to Boston to pick it up at the Memorial show his friends are putting up at the Somerville Theater. His friends, that's Peter Case, John Gorka, Mark Erelli, Shawn Colvin, Peter Keane, Cormac McCarthy (not the writer...), David Johansen and Patty Larkin. Should be quite a night!

 

I knew there was a difference between the two Texan guitars but I did not exactly which ones. And effectively, he always had his Guild and his main texan with him on the road.

 

Except here in Paris in 2006 when he only brought his Guild and used my Taylor 415 for Open D songs.

 

Bill%2005.jpg

Bill%2007.jpg

 

More pictures at http://www.mysongwriters.com/Lynn&Bill_02Fev06.htm and http://www.mysongwriters.com/BillMorrisseyEurope05/BM_Paris-Bruxelles05.htm

 

Voila, I'll be back with details when I have the new babe.

 

Herve, parispAl

http://facebook.com/herve.oudet

Epiphone 6732e

Martin J40

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Here are the first pictures of BillMorrissey's Epiphone FT-79 Texan I'll be bringing back to Paris in two weeks now.

 

you'll notice that the pickguard does not have the Epiphone sign but the headstock has one. According to the serial

number (96343) it was made in 1962 or 1963.

 

Can't wait to bring the babe and Bill's mojo back to Paris with me!

 

epi2.jpg

epi3.jpg

epi4.jpg

 

These are not Bill's. The first one ('63) doesn't have the E sign neither on the pickguard, nor on the head...

196 (http://www.mylespaul.com/forums/historics-reissues/134282-your-favourite-r8-g0-mlp-2.html):

fa1adf4c.jpg

 

This one is supposedly form 1962:

P1010777.jpg

http://www.pmblues.com/products/586/Epiphone-Texan-FT-79-1962-Sunburst-Wide-Head-SOLD.htm

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Can't wait to bring the babe and Bill's mojo back to Paris with me!

I've played Bills guitar on a few occasions, Good Mojo for sure. Bill's guitar inspired me to pick up a 67 Texan and put a Sunrise in it after I played his for the first time. Bill is about 40% of my musical influence, it was a sad day when I heard the news of his passing. I always looked forward to his shows. I would sit with him and talk guitars and music and he was always kind in sharing his guitar for me to play. I asked him if he would write down some of his songs for me when I first met him. Instead of writing down his songs, he wrote down the Starting Chord and Capo position for all the songs he had recorded at the time to date, and told me to figure out what I could and play one for him on his next trip thru town. I did so on his next trip (played him 2, Motels and Planes + Robert Johnson) and then he wrote down some more songs on the same paper I since I brought it back to the show. Bills music will live on forever, I'll do my part to help that. I sure wish I could make to his Memorial Concert in November, its gonna be a great show.. RIP Bill...

Enjoy that guitar..

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Thanks for posting this.

 

I wasn't aware of Bill Morrisey, but I am now and look forward to acquiring his albums.

 

Seems a person could learn a lot about songwriting (and life) from his work....

 

R.I.P Mr. Morrisey.

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thanks for your replies. I have uploaded some clips of his Brussels show in 2005, after he played Paris. You can see them on my Youtube channel at http://www.youtube.com/user/Berdouillat. A bit too close, but at least the image is stable! And Bill looks and plays well, contrary to most recent videos on YT... If you guys want some audio shows, send me an email and I'll give you DL links.

 

Brian, I would recommend "Standing Eight", "North", or "Inside". You may run into some horns as Bill would himself play some clarinet and loved them horns.

 

Bill-Morrissey-390x332.jpg

post-36705-026781700 1320042704_thumb.jpg

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Bill Morrissey has always been "a sucker for Epiphones." On stage he plays a 1968 Texan sunburst model. "I like how small the neck is," he says. "It's just easy for me to play." A couple of years ago, while on tour with his friend Greg Brown, Morrissey came across a 1963 Texan, factory sealed. It stays at his home, with his Guild 35, his first "real" guitar.

We'll miss him.

 

Actually, if the super-dating system at http://home.provide.net/~cfh/epiphone.html#serial is right, Bill's guitar I'm getting, I;E., his second guitar is from 1967, as the serial number is 096343 and the website says "000001 to 099999 1967 (all 6 digit numbers starting with "0" are 1967)".

 

Like this one, with no "E" on the pickguard but one on the trussrod plate:

sn901253.jpg

 

More pictures at http://www.cranesmusicstore.com/epiphonetexan1967preowned-p-2769.html

 

Or that one:

p1_ungdxntcd_ss.jpg

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Congrats on getting Bill`s 67 Texan, Parisp Al, I am sure it will be a fabulous guitar for you. Also thanks for putting up a photo of my wonderful 62! That guitar fits me like a glove, it just feels so right in the hands. A good Gibson made Texan is a wonderful guitar.

 

In case you didn`t know, pretty much all Texans made by Gibson from 58-69/70 came with either a foil pickguard "E" 58-65, or a raised plastic "E" 66-69/70. But an awful lot of them just came off through general usage, the foil "E" on mine is starting to lift in places too.

 

The truss cover "E" came about sometime in 63 with the switch to the hourglass h/stock shape. The arrowhead truss cover doesn`t have an "E", although I have seen ONE that did.

 

P1010778.jpg

P1010789.jpg

 

Enjoy that Texan.

 

Steve.

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thanks for your replies. I have uploaded some clips of his Brussels show in 2005, after he played Paris. You can see them on my Youtube channel at http://www.youtube.com/user/Berdouillat. A bit too close, but at least the image is stable! And Bill looks and plays well, contrary to most recent videos on YT... If you guys want some audio shows, send me an email and I'll give you DL links.

 

Brian, I would recommend "Standing Eight", "North", or "Inside". You may run into some horns as Bill would himself play some clarinet and loved them horns.

 

Bill-Morrissey-390x332.jpg

 

Yeah, that is a SUPER congrats on getting Bill's #2 Texan. That guitar has got to have some serious mojo in it. And just stick the capo at the third fret, hit an Em and start signing, "In the year of '36, in the town of San Antone...." and some of that mojo will ooze out.

 

One thing I've been intrigued about, though, is the strap Bill used on his #1 Texan. I looked far and wide for one like it but couldn't find any. In fact, it is hard to find a good "choker" strap (i.e., one that fits around the headstock) at all unless you special order it, and those cost big bucks. I wound up making my own, using Bill's strap as a model. Found some photos on the Tubes of the Internets, bought some leather and hardware and some tools and made a darn decent strap. Have a ton of leather left over, though.

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The friend who helped me buy the guitar from Bill's family wrote this to me a while back:

 

"We called it the Lake guitar because it used to sit at home...at his house on the lake. He bought it because it was the same model and make as the Epiphone that he loved...the Texan. But It wasn't exactly the same - he liked his original better. So he used to take his Guild and his Epiphone on the road with him. Occasionally he would play the Lake guitar, and comment on how good it sounded, and he would take it on the road if the other was in the shop, or needed an adjustment to the pick-up."

 

Funny how musicians love to give a name to their guitars :-)

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Brian, I would recommend "Standing Eight", "North", or "Inside". You may run into some horns as Bill would himself play some clarinet and loved them horns.

Thanks Al, I ordered "Bill Morrisey" to start and Standing Eight and North are on the list. Will check out Inside too.

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Thanks Al, I ordered "Bill Morrisey" to start and Standing Eight and North are on the list. Will check out Inside too.

 

"Bill Morrissey" is Bill's 1st album, released on vinyl in 1984 and rerecorded for the CD release in 1991. Check my videos at http://www.youtube.com/user/Berdouillat. His stories are worthg the price of admission, and I'm sure David will agree with me ;-)

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"Bill Morrissey" is Bill's 1st album, released on vinyl in 1984 and rerecorded for the CD release in 1991. Check my videos at http://www.youtube.com/user/Berdouillat. His stories are worthg the price of admission, and I'm sure David will agree with me ;-)

 

I would indeed agree. The guy was, at his essence, a storyteller. Those stories came out in his songs and in his writing; check out his novel, "Edson," which got some great reviews when it came out. The guy could spin a yarn. And his concerts could be hilarious, and the humor of his between-song patter often stood in stark contrast (and thankfully so) to some of the dark themes in some of his songs. A friend sent me a recording of one of his shows from this March in which Bill told a bunch of hilarious stories, including a fantasy (at least I hope it was) about meeting Sarah Palin as a young man when he played Alaska. He also wrote some hilarious songs that are classics, such as "Letter From Heaven," "Amnesia," "Car and Driver" and "Party at the U.N.," among others.

 

As my day job, I work as a newspaper reporter and I think Bill would've made a great feature writer. He had a keen eye for detail, he knew how to turn a phrase and he showed us instead of telling us. When he sings in "It's Time to Go Home" about that guy sitting on the edge of the motel room bed with a warm six-pack of beer, waiting for the phone to ring, you know that guy. You knew his characters, and you were glad you did.

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"Bill Morrissey" is Bill's 1st album, released on vinyl in 1984 and rerecorded for the CD release in 1991. Check my videos at http://www.youtube.c...er/Berdouillat. His stories are worthg the price of admission, and I'm sure David will agree with me ;-)

Hey Al, "Bill Morrisey" (the 1991 version) came today, and it's spectacular. Now I know what the all the fuss is about. Great songs, really unusual phrasing, and man do those guitars sound good. No wonder everyone wants a Texan.

 

I can't believe I lived in Boston for 30 years and never heard of Bill. I'll bet I walked by him on the street or sat next to him in bar at some point. My loss not to have known him personally.

 

Cheers, Brian

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Hey Al, "Bill Morrisey" (the 1991 version) came today, and it's spectacular. Now I know what the all the fuss is about. Great songs, really unusual phrasing, and man do those guitars sound good. No wonder everyone wants a Texan.

 

I can't believe I lived in Boston for 30 years and never heard of Bill. I'll bet I walked by him on the street or sat next to him in bar at some point. My loss not to have known him personally.

 

Cheers, Brian

 

Another one joins the fold....

 

We've all got our personal favorite Bill Morrissey albums. I'd suggest you check out "Inside" soon. Once you've digested the record you've got, that is.

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I have a digitized version of the LP version of "Bill Morrissey" somewhere. It has only 12 tracks, instead of 15 on the CD recording.Again, the CD version is a full re-recording of the LP, not a remastered version. Let me if you want to hear it.

 

photo below, Bill as a French Depressionnist painter ;-)

post-36705-082631900 1320324857_thumb.jpg

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That's one show I wish like heck I could make. I hope we see some good videos posted on YouTube. (And, for that matter, I also hope somebody somewhere is digging through various recordings to put together the quintessential Bill Morrissey "live" album, although it struck me that such an album would be about half songs and half great and hilarious storytelling.)

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