John Morris, organizer of Woodstock pageant, lifeless at 84

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By Calvin S. Nelson

John Morris, who helped arrange the historic 1969 Woodstock Pageant of Artwork and Music, died Friday at his dwelling in Santa Fe, N.M., his household confirmed to The Occasions. He was 84.

Morris died after coping with a protracted sickness — he suffered from COPD for years and had beforehand battled most cancers.

“One of many issues that I all the time cherished most about John is that he was one of the crucial egalitarian individuals you’d ever meet. He would assume nothing of placing a plumber subsequent to the Queen of England at a cocktail party and it will be enjoyable — that’s simply the best way he was. He noticed individuals for who they had been,” Luzann Fernandez, Morris’ accomplice of 33 years, instructed The Occasions.

“He was an adventurer, I had wonderful adventures with him. He had a terrific humorousness. I used to like teasing him about how he was semi-famous,” Fernandez continued. “He had buddies everywhere in the world from all walks of life and he all the time stayed in contact.”

Earlier than becoming a member of the organizing committee for Woodstock, Morris labored as a rock live performance producer for notable acts reminiscent of Jefferson Airplane, the Doorways and the Grateful Lifeless. He labored alongside Invoice Graham — the acid-tongued live performance promoter who championed rock acts throughout San Francisco’s psychedelic period and went on to play a number one function in pop music’s emergence as a cultural pressure.

Morris produced the San Francisco-based Jefferson Airplane’s first East Coast tour and helped them go on their first European tour, accompanied by the Jim Morrison-led Doorways. After spearheading these excursions, Morris put collectively reveals at New York Metropolis’s Anderson Theatre, one of many first downtown rock halls within the metropolis. He then started working at Graham’s NYC rock venue, the Fillmore East, which opened in 1968. There, Morris produced reveals for Janis Joplin and B.B. King.

As a result of success of his many gigs, Morris was tapped to be the top of manufacturing for the Woodstock pageant and served as one of many de facto MCs of this system. He notably made the general public deal with announcement that Woodstock had transformed into “a free live performance.”

“That is one factor that I used to be going to attend awhile earlier than we talked about, however perhaps we’ll discuss it now so you possibly can give it some thought, since you all, all of us, should make some type of plans for ourselves. It’s a free live performance any more. That doesn’t imply that something goes. What meaning is that we’re gonna put the music up right here at no cost,” Morris instructed the gang, as captured within the 1970 documentary of the pageant, “Woodstock.”

“What it means is that the people who find themselves backing this factor, who put up the cash for it are gonna take a little bit of a shower, a giant tub. That’s no hype, that’s fact, they’re gonna get damage,” he continued earlier than going right into a becoming message of unity and peace. “ However what it means is that these individuals who put this factor right here, have it of their heads … that your welfare and their welfare is a hell of much more essential than the music is, than the greenback.”

Morris recalled the troubles confronted by the Woodstock manufacturing workforce in a 2017 interview.

“We handled what turned one of many largest cities in New York State at that time (attendance at 400,000) — managed to placed on among the best music concert events of all time, which is immortalized within the Woodstock movie,” Morris instructed the Malibu Occasions. “You may see me in that movie saying and coming as near a nervous breakdown as humanly doable. On Sunday, we had what was in a while referred to as a twister that shot via the pageant, poured rain, wind — the stage began form of sliding, feeling harmful.

“I needed to inform everyone to get off the towers,” he stated, remembering the occasion fondly. “We hunkered down — we survived it. I nonetheless assume it’s one of the best live performance I’ve ever been concerned in.”

Put up-Woodstock, Morris organized the opening of London’s Rainbow Theatre as a rock venue. The Who served as the placement’s opening live performance on Nov. 4, 1971. The ever-busy Morris labored as a live performance producer till 1990, collaborating on excursions with Paul McCartney’s Wings, Santana, Chuck Berry, Ike and Tina Turner, David Bowie, Pink Floyd, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Frank Zappa, amongst others.

Morris was born right into a navy household in Gramercy Park, New York Metropolis in 1939. His father served within the U.S. Military in the course of the Korean Battle. When the struggle completed, the household relocated to Pleasantville, N.Y. Morris studied theater at Carnegie Tech (now Carnegie Mellon College) in Pittsburgh, after which labored as a lighting designer in off-Broadway productions earlier than he launched into his profession as a rock present producer.

He’s survived by Fernandez, his brother Mark Morris, nephew Eric Morris and nieces, Nicole Merrick, Marie Fernandez and Katie Fernandez.

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