Gary Gwyn Morris (born December 7, 1948) is an American country music artist who charted a string of Countrypolitan hit songs throughout the 1980s. He is also known for the 1983 ballad "The Wind Beneath My Wings", although his credits include more than twenty-five other chart singles on the Billboard country charts, including five Number One hits: "Baby Bye Bye", "I'll Never Stop Loving You", "Making Up for Lost Time" (a duet with Crystal Gayle which was also a minor Adult Contemporary hit), "100% Chance of Rain", and "Leave Me Lonely". He has also released nine studio albums, with his 1983 self-titled album having earned a gold certification from the RIAA.
Gary Morris was born as Gary Gwyn Morris in Ft. Worth, Texas
, in 1948. He had two siblings, a twin sister and younger brother. Even though Morris was best-known for pop
-oriented hits in the 1980s, he was descended from a long line of traditional country singers
, who sang hard-twang country and also gospel
. While in the third grade, Morris and his sister won a talent show after singing their rendition of the pop hit "This Old House
," originally popularized by Rosemary Clooney
. Morris, a good athlete, played four sports in high school, which led to a scholarship with Cisco Junior College
. It was during college that singing became Morris's chosen vocation, and he decided to move to Colorado
. He and his two friends formed a trio, and asked a Colorado Springs bartender if they could get up on the bandstand and perform a few songs, and the audience's response (and tips) convinced Morris to put his college plans on hold and to pursue a performing career. In the early 1970s, Morris made a living by singing in nightclubs in Denver, Colorado
. He also wrote a few commercial
jingles for Frontier Airlines
. In 1976, Morris signed on with Jimmy Carter
's presidential campaign and sang at fundraisers during Carter's campaign.
This job led to Morris' performing at the White House
following Carter's election. In the audience was Nashville
country music producer Norro Wilson
, to whom Morris later gave a demo tape. Wilson liked what he heard, and soon signed Morris to his label Warner Bros. Records
Morris began to record for Warner Bros. Records
in the early 1980s, . In 1981, he had his first top ten Country hit, "Headed For a Heartache". He also had two Country top twenty hits, with up-tempo tracks . In 1983, he decided to focus more on ballads
than up-tempo Country songs. He released his "ballad" album in 1983 titled Why Lady Why
. The album became one of his most successful albums, producing several hits, including the hit single "Wind Beneath My Wings
." The song became one of his biggest hits and still remains his signature song. Bette Midler
later had a huge hit with "Wind Beneath My Wings" in the movie Beaches
. Morris' other hits from the 1983 album included the album's title song, "Why Lady Why", "The Love She Found In Me" and "Velvet Chains". That year 1983 would prove to be one of his most successful years in the Country music industry. That same year 1983, he helped revive the career of 70s Country recording artist Lynn Anderson
, when they recorded a duet called "You're Welcome to Tonight," which became a top ten hit for them. In 1984 Morris won a string of awards for achievements and also appeared on several daytime and evening television shows.
Despite his move to acting, Morris did not stop recording. He continued to have success on the Country charts. In 1984, he saw his first #1 Country hit with the single "Baby Bye Bye". He also achieved two other Top ten hits, including "Second Hand Heart." He had another #1 hit in 1985 with the song "I'll Never Stop Loving You" and another hit with the song "Lasso the Moon." Morris' songs at the time were mainly Pop-oriented tunes. This was not unique to Morris at the time in Country music. Many Country artists gave a Pop-oriented sound to their biggest hits (This Pop sound in Country music was called Countrypolitan), including Lynn Anderson, Larry Gatlin, Janie Fricke, Crystal Gayle and Kenny Rogers. While some of these singers had success on the Pop charts, Morris did not. Morris' other hits from the 80s after 1986 include "100% Chance of Rain", "Honeycomb", "Leave Me Lonely" and "Plain Brown Wrapper". "Plain Brown Wrapper" was Morris' last hit. After 1987, his success on the Country charts faded. During his career in Country, Morris had 16 Top Ten hits. Morris also opened a music publishing office in Nashville, with one of his employees being future star Faith Hill.
Acting Career & Life Today
Morris took a break from touring to pursue a serious acting career. One of his first big roles was in the Broadway production of Les Miserables,
as Jean Valjean
. The full symphonic recording of "Les Miserables" is a platinum selling, Grammy Award
-winning album and features Gary's now famous version of Bring Him Home
. Morris has also appeared in a production of Puccini's opera La Boheme
with another fellow Country/Pop singer Linda Ronstadt
. In the 1990s, he spent a great deal of time working on music projects, such as the PBS
special concert production, in Moscow, Russia
, in the famous Tretyakov Gallery
. He returned to Country music in the 90s, performing in concerts and as a record producer
. Morris hosted and also produced the Nashville
network's top rated The North American Sportsman.
Gary Morris spends much time at his fly-fishing/hunting resort Mountain Spirit Lodge in southern Colorado. He has four children, all boys. One of them, Matthew, is, like his father, a singer.
- CMT.com profile
- Millard, Bob (1998). "Gary Morris". In The Encyclopedia of Country Music. Paul Kingsbury, Editor. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 358.
- Official website