Minister of Culture, Hon. Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange, speaking on the passing of Denroy Morgan, one of the artists that made reggae internationally famous, said: “It is sad to receive this news just as we have closed a successful Reggae Month. Denroy Morgan was unique. We will never see anyone like him again, whether in Reggae music or in Jamaican life, but I give thanks that his musical legacy will live on in his children. I send my condolences, love and respect to the Morgan Heritage family. To Denroy, my brother, sleep in Peace in Zion.”
Denroy Morgan was born in May Pen, Clarendon, Jamaica on May 15, 1945, and moved to the USA in 1965. There he registered at the New York School of Music, where he briefly studied guitar and piano, before starting two bands, Mad Creators and Black Eagles, which became one of the first roots & culture reggae bands in New York City.
Morgan then launched a prosperous solo career, releasing his Billboard chart-topping hit “I’ll Do Anything for You’ and an album of the same name. The title track became a big R&B and Dance hit and in 1984 he became the first Reggae artist to be signed to RCA Records. He followed up with the release of the Reggae album Make My Day and became known as a songwriter, producer and popular performing artist.
Meanwhile, Denroy Morgan became the silent driving force behind a growing empire of reggae artists from among his talented children. While touring and recording, he saw the aptitude and the interest that his kids were displaying for music, so he made a deliberate decision to put his own musical career on hold so as to build on the talents of his children. The efforts paid off handsomely, and his children formed several groups including The Dreads, LMS and the internationally acclaimed roots and culture band, Morgan Heritage that performed at leading reggae shows and won their first of two Grammy awards in 2016.
In 1975 Morgan had a spiritual calling that inspired him to become a member of the Twelve Tribes of Israel Rastafari group, and in the 70s and 80s his home in Brooklyn, NY was a hub for members of the Twelve Tribes of Israel. In 2016 he was awarded the Key to the City of Brooklyn in recognition of his support for culture.
Denroy Morgan was also Ambassador for the Ethiopian Orthodox Coptic Church of North and South America and he ministered regularly to inmates at the Devens Federal Bureau of Prisons in Massachusetts.
The Legal Fight
Throughout his life, Morgan was a stern advocate for the legalization of cannabis and it was one of his greatest joys when it was decriminalized in Jamaica and around the world. In 2006 he began to champion and lead the All Mansion campaign which worked for the unification of various Rastafarian organizations and communities worldwide. After being ordained a Bishop, he started the Abrahamic Covenant Family Ministry that created the petition for the UN to make November 2nd, the Coronation day of H.I.M. Haile Selassie I, an international holiday.
Denroy Morgan is survived by his wife Hyacinth Morgan, his 30 children, 104 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren. He was surrounded by his wife, children and grandchildren as he ascended into Zion.