Tommy Morgan, a well-known harmonica musician, died on June 23 at the age of 89. The reason for his death was not disclosed. Morgan was described as a mentor and friend by harmonica musician Rob Paparozzi. He said that he met Morgan at the SPAH conference, that Morgan recognized him as an NYC Session Player, and that they remained in contact for many years.
Everything there is to know about Tommy Morgan
Tommy Morgan, who was born on December 4, 1932, began studying harmonica music when he was 11 years old. The University of California, Los Angeles awarded him a master’s degree in music composition. Morgan’s first session with the Andrew Sisters was in 1950 when he was 17 years old. In the mid-1950s, he joined the United States Air Force band and produced original music for episodes of various CBS shows, including The Twilight Zone, Gunsmoke, and Have Gun – Will Travel.
Tommy was well-known for being one of the world’s most heard harmonica players, having appeared in over 500 feature films. He was a member of the Roots and Roots: The Next Generations teams. His harmonica provided the background music for Arnold Ziffel, the pig on Green Acres. He appeared in a number of famous films, including Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, How the West Was Won, The Cincinnati Kid, The Wild Bunch, The Cowboys, and The Black Stallion. His work on the soundtracks of The Right Stuff and Dances With Wolves received Oscars.
He went on to appear in films such as Pretty Woman, Free Willy, Back to the Future Part III, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Cars, Ratatouille, The Princess Diaries, Monsters, Inc., and others. Among others, he performed on albums by the Beach Boys, Randy Newman, Olivia Newton-John, James Taylor, Neil Diamond, and Carly Simon.
His work on Elvis Presley’s 1968 return spectacular was widely praised, and he performed alongside Frank Zappa, Van Dyke Parks, John Barry, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. He has composed arrangements for recordings by well-known performers like Johnny Cash. He once remarked that he saw himself as a studio musician who played the harmonica and that it was a fun way to earn a career.
Morgan wrote three books: Chromatic Harmonica, Blues Harmonica, and You Made How Much for What? The first two were music instruction books, and the third was an autobiography released earlier this year. In 2001, he received a lifetime achievement award from the Society for the Preservation and Advancement of the Harmonica. After having a stroke, he retired in 2013.
Twitter users pay tribute
Over the course of his remarkable seven-decade career, Tommy Morgan garnered renown as a brilliant harmonica player. When word of his death spread, Twitter was inundated with tributes. Tommy Morgan’s wife Lois, sons Matthew and Daniel, and granddaughter Addie Rae survive him.
This makes me incredibly sad. Tommy was 1 of 2 Twilight Zone composers alive when I wrote my book and was such a great help (Robert Drasnin was the other who was also really helpful). He even wrote my book’s preface. https://t.co/9X9SIgD1NC?
— Dr. Reba Wissner (@reba_wissner) July 2, 2022
RIP Tommy Morgan. His credits say a lot but they don’t say how supportive and encouraging a musician he was to those around him. https://t.co/qGv4dduquD
— Geoff Zanelli (@GeoffZanelli) July 2, 2022