NotesWorn by Jenny Morris at the inaugural Australian Music Awards at Melbourne in 1990, where she won awards for best female vocalist and best video clip. She sang 'Break in the Weather' at the awards ceremony. She only wore the dress on this one occasion.
Born and raised in Hamilton, New Zealand, Jenny Morris began her career as a schoolteacher in Wellington. In 1976 she became a singer with a band called How's Your Father, who were finalists in the 'National Battle of the Bands'. Late in 1978 she joined an all-female band, the Wide Mouthed Frogs. Renowned as a fun band, the Frogs developed a faithful following in Wellington throughout 1979.
Another local band the Crocodiles, which included such luminaries of Kiwi rock as Tony Backhouse, Fane Flaws and the irrepressible Bruno Lawrence, had their eyes on Morris. They tried for months to poach her from the Frogs, finally succeeding early in 1980. One year and several line-up changes later, the Crocodiles moved to Australia, becoming another in a long line of bands who have crossed the Tasman in search of a larger market for their music. Morris later told Tracee Hutchison 'New Zealand is not particularly supportive of its local music industry. [Going to Australia] was something people had done before and been successful, so we decided to do it too and maybe get some extra information from the trip' (quoted in Tracee Hutchison, 'Your name's on the door', ABC Enterprises, 1992, p 84).
When the Crocodiles failed to make an impact in Australia they split in July 1981. Morris stayed in Australia and in 1982 she recorded the theme song to the film 'Puberty blues'. The next year saw her become the lead singer with the Sydney band QED. Their single 'Everywhere I go' became a Top 20 hit, but when QED broke up in 1985 Morris set her sights on a solo career. She signed with WEA and began to gather songs for her first solo album. Over the next couple of years she established herself as one of the country's leading solo recording artists with a series of hit albums.
Morris had the same manager as INXS (Chris Murphy) and became good friends with the band. At Murphy's suggestion she joined up with them as a back-up singer on their 1985 Australian tour. It was meant to be just for a few weeks but she ended up touring the world with INXS for 18 months on the 'Listen like thieves' tour. Becoming a de-facto band member, she played guitar on three songs and performed a duet with Michael Hutchence on 'Jackson'. (The song was released as a bonus track on INXS's 'Decadance' cassette EP.) The tour with INXS exposed her to a wider audience and taught her a great deal about performing internationally.
Her first solo album, 'Body and soul', came out in 1987 and was a smash, going to No 13 on the national album charts. The title track sold well as a single in Australia and New Zealand. Another stand-out track was her recording of a Neil Finn song 'You I know' which reached No 13 on the national singles charts. Suddenly Jenny Morris was virtually the queen of Australian pop, winning the ARIA award for best Australian female artist in 1986 and 1987. Morris' 1989 album, 'Shiver', fared even better than its predecessor, going Top 5. The material was outstanding, including 'She has to be loved' (written by Morris and Andrew Farriss) and Paul Kelly's 'Street of love'. She spent two gruelling years touring internationally to promote 'Shiver', including several weeks as a support act for Prince. 'Shiver' was met with considerable overseas recognition and the album's success took Morris by surprise.
After years of singing in smoky pubs, she became concerned about the effect of cigarette smoke on her voice and on the health of punters. She took a well-publicised stand and banned smoking at her shows. There was overwhelming support for the ban at her gigs, even from smokers. She became an ambassador for the Commonwelth Government's Drug Offensive program.
1991 saw the release of her follow-up to 'Shiver'. Co-produced by Nick Launay, the 'Honeychild' album had the legendary Jamaican session musicians Sly and Robbie (Ainslie Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare) as the rhythm section on eight tracks. Morris told an interviewer, 'experiencing their sheer skill, the sheer rotten, stinking, smelly grooves they conjure up from nowhere and in no time at all - it was wonderful ... I don't think there's one little note that I'm not happy with on this album'. 'Honeychild' spawned her biggest selling single, the quirky 'Break in the weather', which made No 3 nationally. She worked with Paul Kelly on writing the haunting ballad 'I've had you', which she described as 'one of the great pride and joys of my career'. Morris' incisive lyrics on the album dealt with issues including homelessness and the environment. In 1995 came the release of the 'Salvation Jane' album, featuring a lot of new original material. Although sales were not huge, the single 'In too deep' showed Morris in fine voice and was a radio hit.
Peter Cox (source: Real wild child CD-ROM)
Borrowed by the Powerhouse Museum in November 1993 from Jenny Morris via her management, for display in the 'Real Wild Child' exhibition.