Larry gets his Benny – at last

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By CATHERINE HEALY

He’s been in the New Zealand mu­sic busi­ness for 50 years and all of his old mates have won the Benny, so Larry Mor­ris fig­ured it must be his turn soon.

‘‘It’s the best award you can get in en­ter­tain­ment.’’

It is his habit to take any­thing he wins down to his 93-year-old mother in Pu­taruru for safe keep­ing.

Af­ter the pre­sen­ta­tion on Oc­to­ber 13 he phoned his par­ents around mid­night to tell them he’d won.

‘‘Mum was re­ally stoked. She said she couldn’t be wo­ken up for a bet­ter rea­son than that.’’

Mr Mor­ris is best known for his band Larry’s Rebels which had 11 con­sec­u­tive hits in the 1960s – a record at the time.

‘‘We dom­i­nated the charts for seven years.’’

He was only 17 years old when he joined the band.

Mr Mor­ris has fond mem­o­ries of his early child­hood in Pon­sonby and at­tend­ing Rich­mond Rd School.

In his early teens his fam­ily shifted many times to fol­low his fa­ther’s work.

‘‘I couldn’t get set­tled. I’d had enough and so I de­cided to join the navy at 15.’’

It turned out to be a dread­ful ca­reer choice.

Young Larry couldn’t get over his chronic sea­sick­ness and was dis­charged af­ter 18 months.

In the mean­time his par­ents had moved back to Auck­land and bought a dairy on Jer­vois Rd. Rather than have him hang­ing around the shop, Larry’s mother wanted him out and work­ing.

Sev­eral reg­u­lar cus­tomers were en­ter­tain­ers and she would tell them about her son’s mu­si­cal tal­ent.

Even­tu­ally she got him an au­di­tion with Benny Levin, who was man­ag­ing the Howard Mor­ri­son Quar­tet.

‘‘I didn’t get the job with Benny but the band that played at the au­di­tion was The Rebels and they asked me to join them.

‘‘We used to play on the back of a truck out­side The Glue­pot be­cause we were too young to get in. Our dads would be drink­ing in­side.’’

Their hit song Let’s Think of Some­thing won the Sil­ver Scroll in 1967.

‘‘I was at the Sil­ver Scrolls the other night to see Lorde get hers. It was the best one I’d ever been to.

‘‘It felt re­ally good to be a New Zealand mu­si­cian.’’

Mr Mor­ris’ cur­rent band Re­bel­lion has been to­gether about 10 months and is get­ting gigs around New Zealand.

‘‘It’s my bucket list band. I wanted to play with the guys I played with when I was young.

‘‘They were all into it. We’re all in our 60s. It’s ex­cit­ing.’’

Photo: CATHERINE HEALY

Top award: Larry Mor­ris is this year’s win­ner of the Benny Award. It is the high­est award given by the Va­ri­ety Artists Club of New Zealand.

Go to auck­land­c­i­ty­har­bour news.co.nz to see a video of Larry’s Rebels singing

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