by Luke Voogt
Country rock comedy legend Chad Morgan “is not dead yet” as he returns to Geelong next month.
The Sheik of Scrubby Creek returns to play side-splitting songs like I’m My Own Grandpa, There’s Life In The Old Dog Yet and Fatal Wedding.
Morgan’s prolific 67-year career began with a dare while serving as a national serviceman in the air force, he explained in a recent interview.
“I was always singing just for fun,” the 86-year-old told Queensland State Library.
“One of the officers heard me and they actually asked if I could sing between (boxing) bouts.”
When Australia’s Amateur Hour came to Brisbane in 1952 “one of the other fellas” in his unit entered the talent quest.
“He was a good singer too – I’ve gotta give him credit for that,” he said.
But the unit disliked the other airman and egged Morgan into entering too.
“They said, ‘We dare ya.’ Never dare me to do anything,” he laughed.
“I got on but he didn’t. Somebody from the record company heard me and they offered to record me.
“All my life that was my one ambition, to record for Regal Zonophone … that was the country label, they had nothing else on it.”
Morgan made the semi-finals, where the show’s host Terry Dear broke the news.
“He said, ‘EMI has offered to record you’,” Morgan said.
“And I said, ‘no, I’m not interested.’
“He said, ‘why not, EMI are the biggest record company in the world?’
“‘It doesn’t matter,’ I said, ‘I want to be on Regal Zonophone.’
“He said, ‘but they are Regal Zonophone!’”
Morgan began recording for the EMI subsidiary label, when he wrote a song that made him a comedy music icon.
“I was writing straight, ordinary songs which nobody wanted to hear and then there was a girl I fancied, so I decided I’d write a song for her, you see,” he said.
“I’m sitting down and I’m writing this song and I thought, ‘what do I have to write her a love song for? I can get any sheila I want!’
“I’m the Sheik of Scrubby Creek.”
From small-town pubs to Sydney Opera House, Morgan would tour the country alongside country legends like Slim Dusty.
He remembers writing his favourite song Fatal Wedding with Gordon Parsons, who wrote A Pub with No Beer, during their ritual nightly scotch while on tour together.
“This night I think we must have had more than one because at about 2am in the morning we were still yacking away,” he said.
The two talked about how morbid country songs were and Morgan said: “Let’s write one and knock the lot of them off!”
In the resulting song both a bride and groom die, their hearse capsizes and a flood washes their whole town away.
Morgan plays alongside The Muirs at Sphinx Hotel on 11 October.