First Orbison Impersonator Goes Out in Style

Perhaps the only available video of  Kent ‘Kenny’ Moril as Roy Orbison and just came across  a beautiful music video, from Morril, sung in the Orbison voice, ironically titled ‘Would You Like To Live Forever.’  What a wonderful, moving way to go out for Kent Morril. Thanks ‘Kenny’ for the music and memories…  Sorry to say , we couldn’t find a single Orbison impersonator video from Kenny but  a nice interview piece at the end…

KENNY MORRIL RIP

 

Just got word that  Kenny (Kent) Morrill passed away , of cancer, recently in Northeast , U.s. Kenny was the first real Roy Orbison impersonator – and a good one.

I remember first ‘discovering’  him, quite by accident, when I was in the wine country at Windsor Winery sometime probably in 1989 or ’90 – the years get away from me …

I remember being totally astonished that anyone could sound so much  like Roy Orbison.  After no longer being able to see the original Roy in concert, I thought it great to be a able to have someone like Morrill  help fill the huge void left on the concert scene after Orbison passed in December, 1988.      I would probably see him another five times in concert over the next five years and would even meet and interview him in Las Vegas, along with my friend, Stephen Wong. I  rememeber it being a shock to see him, backstage without his Orbison  wig and dress. He didn ‘t look anything like Orbison but he sure had thereverence for Roy and sounded like him… and that was what counted. He seemned a bit  odd as I recall, with some off  color  comments I can’t quite recall right now (I must check my notes and original interview one of these days) but nice enough and a really great performer,
who ,again ,offered  that Orbison ‘fix’ for Orbison fans missing the original.

After about five years,  Morrill seemed to disappear  from the growing number of Orbison impersonators on the circuit ( I met and interviewed yet another impersonator shortly after Morrill  -a rather peculiar short, fat,   very  friendly guy, Sammy ? ,    during a follow-up visit to Vegas with Stephen  . Soon after , Larry Branson took up the slack as the Numero Uno Orbison ‘tribute performer,’ as they were now called.  Only now, after reading the attached obit, do I see why Morrill disappeared. That’s because he reunited with his old ‘  group in the Northwest. The Wailers (not to be confused with the later reggae group) even had an instrumental, national hit in 1959,’Tall Cool One’ (see and hear attached video along with an Oribson performance, thanks to the magic of YouTube) with ‘Kent’ playing keyboards on  ‘Cool One.’  Washington and Oregon produced a lot of fine music in during the era, including the Fleetwoods and the Kingsmen,  who  hit big with ‘Louie, Lousie’ even though, I believe, the Wailers actually recorded it before the Kingsmen did. (the late, great  R and B singer/writer  Richard Berry,  another good guy who we also met on a local Bay Area cruise, wrote the song and had the original recording back the mid 50s.)

So, here’s to Morrill, who  really played a significant part in this writer’s musical life after Roy Orbison passed. Hopefully , Morrill will be remembered not only in the Northwest but in the  international musical lexicon,  for not only helping to carry on the Orbison legacy but  for helping to develop the ‘Northwest sound’ of the late-fifties and early-60s’.  Thanks to the ACE music blog for much of the above material (see link)

 

And now we learn from another source, OREGON MUSIC NEWS   , that Morrill passed prior to April 15,  of this year.   And that Morrill was a Christian ministry, along with his music. See below and interview.

 

A sad note, and sobering. A Northwest Music Legend is gone. Kent Morrill, age 70, the lead singer for The Fabulous Wailers died this morning in Tacoma. Cancer was the cause.

Kent and partner Buck Ormsby formed Etiquette Records in the early 60′s and released the version of ‘Louie Louie’ that inspired both the Kingsmen and Paul Revere and The Raiders to give it a try, which led to a hit for The Kingsmen and a major career in records and television for The Raiders.

Kent, in more recent years was also the leading Roy Orbison impersonator in shows from Vegas to Moscow and points in between.

But more important to Kent was a personal Ministry. He’d found another stage on porches everywhere, encouraging his peers and others to become Bible students too. “What Does The Bible Really Teach” was his leading question, followed by what he’d learned over the years as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

His music peers in the Seattle/Tacoma area had rallied around Kent in recent weeks, and will surely attend his memorial service, to be announced.

Here is an interview with Morrill.

And, of course they’re one and only big hit “Tall Cool One”: