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Morris Chestnut

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My old bio on Morris ........... the NS Morris was about 30 years old when the actor was born ..........

 

Only the most gritty of soul singers would qualify to be described as just ‘too darn soulful’. Morris Chestnut, the guy who cut the song of this name, only ever recorded a small number of tracks as a solo singer. However, he has enjoyed an extended career in the music business. Born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, he started out singing in school. He then went into the Services, being posted to Hawaii with the Air Force. After his discharge, he ended up in Los Angeles where he met up with members of doo-wop group, the Vows. His cousin Ralph was a member of the group that had a record released on Markay in 1961, this being produced by George Motola. Via the Vows, Morris got to know Motola, who impressed, signed Morris to his L&M label. Motola cut him (using the Vows on backing vocals) on a song that Morris had written himself, “I Need Somebody” and this was released under the name of James Washington Lee. Musical styles were moving on though and the line-up of the Vows was revised, Morris became a member himself and the group hooked up with Jobete Music’s LA office team. They cut some demos of songs the team had written and these were forwarded onto Detroit to be considered by Motown’s hit acts as future recording material. If these songs were rejected, the LA team had a deal with Motown that allowed them to cut them locally and release them on a LA based label. This arrangement resulted in a Vows 45 being issued in 1964 on the Tamara label. Using the revised name of the Vowels, Morris also fronted an outfit that had a couple of singles released on the Le Bam label.

Motown hadn’t given up all interest in the Vows though and in 1965 they were signed to a deal, cut some tracks and enjoyed a 45 release on the VIP label, “Tell Me” (# 25016 -- May 1965). Promotion of this single was only half-hearted and it sank without a trace. Unfortunately, despite further tracks from the group being submitted, this was to prove to be their only Motown release and so the group moved on. Morris had already teamed up with Roy Haggins, David & Robert Jones to form the Sound Masters. Herman C Allen signed the group to Julet Records and the 45 “Lonely, Lonely” (Julet # 102) was released. Morris’ stay with the group was to be short lived however. Next he teamed up with Jones, Bledsoe & Smith to form the Attractions. The group secured a contract with Bell Records, their first release being “Destination You” (# 659) in January 1967 (also issued on Renfro). Two further 45’s followed later that year, “That Girl Is Mine” (# 674) in June and “Why Shouldn’t A Man Cry” (# 690) in September. Morris must have been extremely busy that year as around April his NS anthem “Too Darn Soulful” was released on Amy (# 981), another of Bell Record’s family of labels. None of these records enjoyed any great measure of commercial success and no more of the group’s releases were to escape on Bell. By 1971, under the revised name of the Hollywood Attractions, they had a last release on the Sugar Shack label.

It would be a while before Morris got to enjoy his next record release. This occurred in 1975, after he had teamed up with ex members of the Marvellos (Loma, WB & Modern) to form Street Corner Symphony. This new group were signed to a deal with Bang Records and working with producers Michael Zager & Jerry Love they cut a number of tracks. The label released 2 singles and the album ‘Harmony Grits’ in 1975/76 and these created enough interest in music circles to secure the group a deal with a major label, ABC Records. ABC sent the group back into the studio late in 1976 and early in 1977 this resulted in the release of their album ‘Little Funk Machine’ (ABC # AB-974). In April 1977, the album was followed by the 45 “Funk Machine”. These recordings were to prove to be Morris’ last. However by this time, UK soul fans had discovered his old solo recording, “Too Darn Soulful”. This had become a top sound due to initial plays at Blackpool Mecca and as a result the single had been bootlegged. To rectify this situation, John Anderson licensed the track and issued it on his Grapevine label in 1976 (# GRP128).

Back in LA, Morris remained blissfully unaware of the popularity of his old cut here in the UK and with the passage of time; he had moved on to lead a gospel outfit. At times this group even included old Vows member Helen Simpson amongst its number. Around 2005, Morris was told about the popularity of his old records with UK soul fans. He therefore learnt that cuts such as “Too Darn Soulful”, the Vows “Tell Him”, along with the Sound-Masters “Lonely, Lonely” plus the Attractions “Destination You”, “That Girl Is Mine” & “Why Shouldn’t a Man Cry” are highly prized collectors items. Indeed, ten of his old recordings were made available on CD; his solo outings “Too Darn Soulful” & “You Don’t Love Me Anymore” plus 2 cuts from the Vows (“Tell Me”, “Show Girl”) & the Sound-Masters (“Lonely, Lonely”, “I Want You to Be My Baby”) with 4 in all from the Attractions (“Destination You”, “Why Shouldn’t A Man Cry”, “Find Me”, “New Girl In the Neighborhood”). The continued popularity of his old recordings finally resulted in Morris being booked to come over here to perform at the Prestatyn Weekender in March 2007. 

Edited by Roburt

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My old bio on Morris ........... the NS Morris was about 30 years old when the actor was born ..........

 

Only the most gritty of soul singers would qualify to be described as just ‘too darn soulful’. Morris Chestnut, the guy who cut the song of this name, only ever recorded a small number of tracks as a solo singer. However, he has enjoyed an extended career in the music business. Born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, he started out singing in school. He then went into the Services, being posted to Hawaii with the Air Force. After his discharge, he ended up in Los Angeles where he met up with members of doo-wop group, the Vows. His cousin Ralph was a member of the group that had a record released on Markay in 1961, this being produced by George Motola. Via the Vows, Morris got to know Motola, who impressed, signed Morris to his L&M label. Motola cut him (using the Vows on backing vocals) on a song that Morris had written himself, “I Need Somebody” and this was released under the name of James Washington Lee. Musical styles were moving on though and the line-up of the Vows was revised, Morris became a member himself and the group hooked up with Jobete Music’s LA office team. They cut some demos of songs the team had written and these were forwarded onto Detroit to be considered by Motown’s hit acts as future recording material. If these songs were rejected, the LA team had a deal with Motown that allowed them to cut them locally and release them on a LA based label. This arrangement resulted in a Vows 45 being issued in 1964 on the Tamara label. Using the revised name of the Vowels, Morris also fronted an outfit that had a couple of singles released on the Le Bam label.

Motown hadn’t given up all interest in the Vows though and in 1965 they were signed to a deal, cut some tracks and enjoyed a 45 release on the VIP label, “Tell Me” (# 25016 -- May 1965). Promotion of this single was only half-hearted and it sank without a trace. Unfortunately, despite further tracks from the group being submitted, this was to prove to be their only Motown release and so the group moved on. Morris had already teamed up with Roy Haggins, David & Robert Jones to form the Sound Masters. Herman C Allen signed the group to Julet Records and the 45 “Lonely, Lonely” (Julet # 102) was released. Morris’ stay with the group was to be short lived however. Next he teamed up with Jones, Bledsoe & Smith to form the Attractions. The group secured a contract with Bell Records, their first release being “Destination You” (# 659) in January 1967 (also issued on Renfro). Two further 45’s followed later that year, “That Girl Is Mine” (# 674) in June and “Why Shouldn’t A Man Cry” (# 690) in September. Morris must have been extremely busy that year as around April his NS anthem “Too Darn Soulful” was released on Amy (# 981), another of Bell Record’s family of labels. None of these records enjoyed any great measure of commercial success and no more of the group’s releases were to escape on Bell. By 1971, under the revised name of the Hollywood Attractions, they had a last release on the Sugar Shack label.

It would be a while before Morris got to enjoy his next record release. This occurred in 1975, after he had teamed up with ex members of the Marvellos (Loma, WB & Modern) to form Street Corner Symphony. This new group were signed to a deal with Bang Records and working with producers Michael Zager & Jerry Love they cut a number of tracks. The label released 2 singles and the album ‘Harmony Grits’ in 1975/76 and these created enough interest in music circles to secure the group a deal with a major label, ABC Records. ABC sent the group back into the studio late in 1976 and early in 1977 this resulted in the release of their album ‘Little Funk Machine’ (ABC # AB-974). In April 1977, the album was followed by the 45 “Funk Machine”. These recordings were to prove to be Morris’ last. However by this time, UK soul fans had discovered his old solo recording, “Too Darn Soulful”. This had become a top sound due to initial plays at Blackpool Mecca and as a result the single had been bootlegged. To rectify this situation, John Anderson licensed the track and issued it on his Grapevine label in 1976 (# GRP128).

Back in LA, Morris remained blissfully unaware of the popularity of his old cut here in the UK and with the passage of time; he had moved on to lead a gospel outfit. At times this group even included old Vows member Helen Simpson amongst its number. Around 2005, Morris was told about the popularity of his old records with UK soul fans. He therefore learnt that cuts such as “Too Darn Soulful”, the Vows “Tell Him”, along with the Sound-Masters “Lonely, Lonely” plus the Attractions “Destination You”, “That Girl Is Mine” & “Why Shouldn’t a Man Cry” are highly prized collectors items. Indeed, ten of his old recordings were made available on CD; his solo outings “Too Darn Soulful” & “You Don’t Love Me Anymore” plus 2 cuts from the Vows (“Tell Me”, “Show Girl”) & the Sound-Masters (“Lonely, Lonely”, “I Want You to Be My Baby”) with 4 in all from the Attractions (“Destination You”, “Why Shouldn’t A Man Cry”, “Find Me”, “New Girl In the Neighborhood”). The continued popularity of his old recordings finally resulted in Morris being booked to come over here to perform at the Prestatyn Weekender in March 2007. 

 

Too darn, too darn helpful.

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I'm surprised that "our Morris" has a son as I would have thought him to be of the opposite persuasion. The reason I say this is a good few years ago I had his number to do an interview for Manifesto. He was a bugger (excuse the pun) to get hold of and was never in when I called. He did however have an answer machine. Now imagine if you will, in the campest black voice you can imagine... "Hi this is Mawreeece. I'm real sorry I can't take your call right now, but please leave a message and have yourself a blessed day". He sounded a little more "butch" at Prestatyn but it was definitely him.

 

:lamsey: 

 

 

Steve 

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Was with rob Thomas in la when he tracked morris down in 2004,he had a hard time convincing him about the popularity of tds in the uk.Morris had never seen a bell copy till that day,and wanted to know if anyone knew the whereabouts of Anthony renfro.So he could kill the mf as he put it,he turned out to be a nice guy.Unfortunatley he had suffered a stroke before coming to the uk to appear at prestatyn,but he came and performed realy well,was nice to see and talk to him again.

Edited by Soultown andy

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"Too darn soulful",one of the all time great Northern Soul records.

Too darn soulful, wasn't a northern record when it was produced, it was our choice and a very good choice it was. That's interesting what character of music would it come under and what sorta people would listen to it, just asking billy :g:

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Too darn soulful, wasn't a northern record when it was produced, it was our choice and a very good choice it was. That's interesting what character of music would it come under and what sorta people would listen to it, just asking billy :g:

 

None were made as northern soul Billy.It would have been filed under soul music,with a hope a local succes,then national just like all the other recordings.

Not sure if my time line is correct (Robb K or Roburt ?),but probably MC was released with Billy Stewart's vocal/style success in mind. 

It belongs to Northern Soul, and we're not giving it back so there.

Edited by KevH

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Morris Chestnut the actor is the son of Morris Chestnut the singer. 

Morris Chestnut the singer did not know of his popularity in the UK or Northern Soul. In 2000, his daughter told me that there was nothing left of her father's musical career. No records, posters, flyers, nothing. In 2001, I began looking up any information on her father's music. I bought 45's and LP's off of Ebay, where I learned about his popularity. I presented a CD of Too Darn Soulful and some of his other tracks to Morris. We started playing the CD and saying nothing and then he recognized his voice. I told him, he was a huge hit in the UK. He said, "I guess my cousin was telling the truth" but he had be swindled so much in the Music business that he had wanted nothing to do with it. His daughter and I went our separate ways in 2004. She called me out of the blue, a few years back and said her father went on tour in the UK. He knew he was a hit because I tracked down all his music and came across the Northern Soul writings. I was more enamored talking to Chess about music than going to his son'e movie premier. When he sang "How Great thou Art" acapella at his wife's retirement party it sent chills down my spine. His voice did that and I am agnostic. 

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On ‎10‎/‎07‎/‎2018 at 05:22, Bill Miller said:

Morris Chestnut the actor is the son of Morris Chestnut the singer. 

Morris Chestnut the singer did not know of his popularity in the UK or Northern Soul. In 2000, his daughter told me that there was nothing left of her father's musical career. No records, posters, flyers, nothing. In 2001, I began looking up any information on her father's music. I bought 45's and LP's off of Ebay, where I learned about his popularity. I presented a CD of Too Darn Soulful and some of his other tracks to Morris. We started playing the CD and saying nothing and then he recognized his voice. I told him, he was a huge hit in the UK. He said, "I guess my cousin was telling the truth" but he had be swindled so much in the Music business that he had wanted nothing to do with it. His daughter and I went our separate ways in 2004. She called me out of the blue, a few years back and said her father went on tour in the UK. He knew he was a hit because I tracked down all his music and came across the Northern Soul writings. I was more enamored talking to Chess about music than going to his son'e movie premier. When he sang "How Great thou Art" acapella at his wife's retirement party it sent chills down my spine. His voice did that and I am agnostic. 

That mans voice was out of this world, "New girl in the neighbourhood" sums it up 

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