Scroll Top

Derrick Morgan

Episode this artist appeared in

Brief History

Derrick Morgan was born in Jamaica on the 27th March 1940. His music was popular in the 1960s and 1970s and over his career he found himself working with Desmond Dekker, Bob Marley, and Jimmy Cliff in the rhythm and blues, ska, rocksteady and skinhead reggae genres.

In 1957, he took part in a a talent show held in Kingston. He won with his impression of Little Richard and, shortly after that, was brought on to perform around Jamaica with the popular Jamaican comedy team Bim and Bam.

In 1960 Morgan became the only artist ever to fill the places from one to seven on the Jamaican pop chart simultaneously. Among those hits were "Don't Call Me Daddy", "In My Heart", "Be Still", and "Meekly Wait and Murmur Not". But it was the following year that Morgan released the biggest hit of his career, the Leslie Kong production of "Don't You Know", later retitled "Housewives' Choice" by a local DJ. The song featured a bouncing ska riddim, along with a duet by Morgan and Millicent "Patsy" Todd.

The song, "Housewives' Choice" - began the rivalry between Morgan and Prince Buster, who accused Morgan of stealing his ideas. Followers of the two artists often clashed, and eventually the government had to step in with a staged photo shoot depicting the rivals as friends.

In the mid-1960s, when ska evolved into rocksteady, Morgan continued to release top quality material, including the seminal rude boy songs, "Tougher Than Tough", "Do the Beng Beng", "Conquering Ruler", and a cover of Ben E. King's soul hit, "Seven Letters". Produced by Bunny Lee, "Seven Letters" is often cited as the first true reggae single. In 1969 Morgan recorded the skinhead anthem "Moon Hop" (on Crab Records). However, failing eyesight then forced him to give up regular stage appearances. Morgan still performs occasionally at ska revival shows across the world – often backed by the guitarist Lynn Taitt.