Tommy Morgan, harmonica soloist for film and TV scores, dies at 89

Tommy Morgan, a harmonica soloist who has contributed to hundreds of films and television shows, including Roots and dance with wolvesdied June 23. He was 89 years old.

Morgan has performed on film soundtracks and recording dates dating back to the early 1950s. He estimated that he had played the instrument over 7,000 recording sessions.

Morgan’s harmonica work is featured on Quincy Jones Sanford and sons theme, Mike Post Rockford Files theme and scores for many shows including maverick, The Waltons, The Dukes of Hazard, China Beach, buffy the vampire slayer, family guyand more.

He played the harmonica on The Beach Boys’ “Good Vibrations” the carpenters’ “Rainy Days and Mondays”, “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” by The Hollies, “Skylark” by Linda Ronstadt and other records by Randy Newman, Carly Simon, Barbra Streisand, Neil Diamond, Olivia Newton-John, Dolly Parton and James Taylor.

“I always thought of myself as a studio musician who played harmonica,” Morgan said during an oral history for the National Association of Music Merchants in 2017. according Variety. “It was a very exciting way to earn a living. You never knew what you were going to do.

He was a musician on the comeback special “Elvis ’68” and performed on concerts with Frank Zappa, Van Dyke Parks, John Barry and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. He has also written arrangements for albums by Johnny Cash, Glenn Yarbrough and Rod McKuen.

He has also written three books: chromatic harmonica and blues harmonica, practical manuals for musicians; and How much did you earn for what?an autobiography published earlier this year.

Morgan received a lifetime achievement award from the Society for the Preservation and Advancement of the Harmonica in 2001. His playing career ended when he suffered a stroke in late 2013.

In addition to working in film, television and music, Morgan has performed live as a soloist, performing in concert in over 30 countries. In the late 1990s he performed with the London Philharmonic at Abbey Road, as well as at the Royal Albert Hall and Symphony Hall. He was also a soloist at the 2000 Oscars.

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