M O R G A N O M I C O N
Fatefully born on the same day that “(We’re Gonna) Rock Around The
Clock” by Bill Haley & His Comets was released, JEFFREY MORGAN is best known for being the authorized biographer
of both Alice Cooper and The Stooges.
THE CREEM YEARS
became the de facto Canadian Editor of CREEM: America’s Only Rock ’n’ Roll Magazine after he was
recruited by its editor, Lester Bangs, in the spring of 1974. Morgan began there as a photographer with a 1974 black and white
photograph of Lou Reed and Alice Cooper singing “Goodnight Ladies” together on stage at Massey Hall, which Bangs
used to illustrate his infamous March 1975 cover story “Let Us Now Praise Famous Death Dwarves.”
first published record review, of David Bowie’s 1965 Pye Records single “Can’t Help Thinking About Me,”
ran five months later in the August 1975 issue. Morgan’s writing then went on to appear in every issue of CREEM until
the magazine’s demise in November 1988.
In 2003, at the request of “photographer extraordinaire”
Robert Matheu, Morgan renewed his relationship with the magazine by writing reviews and interviews for Matheu’s new CREEM website
every month for five years until its demise in 2008.
being discovered by Bangs but prior to his first publication in CREEM, Morgan graduated from Northern Secondary high school
where he served in his final year as President of the Student Council. Morgan then spent the balance of 1974 honing his craft
as a rock critic and rock photographer for York University’s weekly newspaper Excalibur, where he reviewed
and photographed concerts by Elton John and George Harrison.
While attending York, Morgan studied electronic music with James
Tenney, who performed on Terry Riley’s album In C.
During this time, Morgan was the host of The Air Pirates Show
on York’s campus radio station CHRY-FM.
From 1975 to 1978, Morgan was the editor of a free monthly Canadian
rock magazine initially titled Cheap Thrills then StageLife and finally Roxy. All three incarnations
were published by Concert Productions International, which was a major promoter of rock concerts and tours in North America
run by Bill Ballard and future Rolling Stones concert promoter Michael Cohl. In addition to editing the magazine, Morgan also
wrote for it extensively both under his own name and that of the more vociferous alter ego he created in April 1975, “Machine
Six months later, Tee Vee Records in Canada released a compilation album titled Machine Rock: 23 Original
Hits. Ballard and Cohl briefly considered suing Tee Vee for damages until they found out that Morgan hadn’t registered
his alias as a trademark.
During this period, Morgan was also the staff copywriter for CBS Records Canada, for
whom he wrote back cover liner notes for The First Lady of the Guitar, an album of baroque music by classical guitarist
Liona Boyd. After reading them, however, Boyd demanded that Morgan’s notes be deleted before the album was released,
exclaiming: “You can’t print this! He makes me sound like a rock star!”
In 1977, Morgan’s
poetry was published in Rolling Stone magazine (‘‘Our Lady of Perpetual Motion’’) and Bakka
magazine (‘‘Neuromantics I-V’’).
In the late 1970s, Morgan was asked by Robert Christgau to participate
in the Village Voice’s annual “Pazz & Jop” critics’ poll. In 1986, Christgau noted how
Morgan skewed the “black caucus” vote by casting 30 points for James Brown’s album Gravity.
During the 1980s, Morgan was a Contributing
Writer for Wayne Green’s magazine Digital Audio and Compact Disc Review. In 1986, several of his reviews were
reprinted in Digital Audio’s Guide to Compact Discs which was published by Bantam Books.
the mid 1980s, Morgan was the host of The Machine Rock Show on the Rogers Television community channel in Toronto.
the late 1980s, Morgan was the host of The Air Pirates Show on Ryerson University’s campus radio station CKLN-FM.
During the 1990s, Morgan wrote reviews
and biographies for Launch Media, including a concert review of Diamanda Galás on her Malediction & Prayer
tour, which Galás posted on her website.
During the early 1990s, Morgan was the host of The Air Pirates
Show on community radio station CFCR-FM in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
In 1992, Morgan was asked to name the
Lou Reed anthology that RCA Records was assembling with Reed. Morgan named the three disc box set Between Thought and
Expression, after his favorite Velvet Underground song “Some Kinda Love.” In return, Morgan was thanked in
the booklet liner notes to the anthology.
2004 and 2009, Morgan wrote an award-winning weekly newspaper column for Detroit’s Metro Times titled Jeffrey
Morgan’s Media Blackout. In 2010, the column relocated to RocksBackpages.com and Morgan’s own website. Morgan
remains on the Metro Times masthead as a Contributing Writer.
In 2006, Morgan was asked to submit a
list of his ten favorite Canadian albums for tabulation in the hardcover book The Top 100 Canadian Albums, which
was published in 2007 by Goose Lane Editions.
In 2008, Morgan wrote the introduction ‘‘What Is And
What Will Always Be’’ for the hardcover book Sonic Boom: The Impact of Led Zeppelin.
Morgan told the story of how Bangs discovered him in ‘‘Curse You, Lester Bangs!!!’’ which appears
in the hardcover book CREEM: America’s Only Rock ’n’ Roll Magazine, published by HarperCollins.
in 2009, Morgan wrote a feature review of the Queen album Hot Space for the hardcover Voyageur Press book Queen:
The Ultimate Illustrated History of the Crown Kings of Rock.
2010, Morgan wrote a review of the Bachman-Turner Overdrive song ‘‘Takin’ Care of Business’’
for the follow-up hardcover book, The Top 100 Canadian Singles.
In 2012, a previously unpublished contemporary
concert review of the Rolling Stones performing at Maple Leaf Gardens on July 15 1972, which was written by Morgan “the
very next day in the heat of the moment,” was published in Portuguese in the limited edition hardcover book Rolling
Stones em Portugal. Morgan’s review was illustrated with a previously unpublished color photograph of
the Stones playing Cobo Hall, taken by Robert Matheu the night before on July 14 1972.
Also in 2012, Morgan
announced that he was writing a feature review of the first Rush album Rush for Voyageur’s forthcoming
hardcover book Rush: The Ultimate Illustrated History to be published in May 2013.
In 1992, Morgan began writing the authorized biography of Alice
Cooper, which would take him seven years to complete. His finished biography, titled ‘‘Alcohol and Razor Blades,
Poison and Needles: The Glorious Wretched Excess of Alice Cooper, All-American,’’ appears in the box set The
Life and Crimes of Alice Cooper, which was published by Warner Bros. on April 20 1999.
Morgan also wrote the
liner notes for two other Cooper albums: 2001’s Mascara and Monsters: The Best of Alice Cooper and the 2002
reissue of Welcome To My Nightmare.
In 2003, the International Journal of Academic Psychiatry
cited Morgan’s authorized biography in their paper “From Alice Cooper to Marilyn Manson: The Significance of Adolescent
In 2011, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum further cited Morgan’s authorized
biography as “Recommended Reading” about Alice Cooper, alongside Alice’s own 1976 autobiography Me,
In 2012, Morgan appeared with Cooper and record producer Bob Ezrin on the BBC World Service radio documentary
‘‘The Bizarre and Influential World of Alice Cooper.’’
In 2008, Morgan and collaborator Robert Matheu began co-writing the authorized biography
of The Stooges. Their finished biography, titled ‘‘The Stooges, Yes’’ appears in The Stooges:
The Authorized and Illustrated Story which was published in hardcover by Abrams on October 1 2009.
reading the biography, Iggy Pop wrote Morgan: “Jeffrey, you’re a smartass—watch it!”
In 1975, Morgan met conceptual illustrator and graphic designer
Dean Motter, with whom he would collaborate on a number of projects. Between 1977 and 1980, they recorded an “ambient electronic
avant-garde progressive art rock album” called Thrilling Women under the collective band name of the Air Pirates.
The album featured vocalist Paul Robinson of The Diodes, guitarist Toby Swann of The Battered Wives, and saxophonist Andy
Haas of Martha and the Muffins.
In 2002, a song from the album, “A Darkened Stretch” was released
by Bongo Beat Records on the compilation Driving In The Rain: 3AM (Songs To Get Lost With).
Bongo Beat released the complete album Thrilling Women: The Lost Air Pirates Sessions - Toronto: 1977 - 1980.
In 1966, DC Comics published Morgan’s first writing in the
comic book letters section of Batman #182.
Later that decade, Morgan began writing numerous letters to the
Marvel Comics Group, many of which were printed during the early ’70s in the letters section of such Marvel comics as
Fantastic Four #95; The Amazing Spider-Man #82; Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos #78; The
Avengers #73; and Conan The Barbarian #5. More often than not, whenever one of Morgan’s letters wasn’t
published, he received a compensatory Marvel No-Prize in the mail.
It was during this second letter writing phase that Morgan’s
first known piece of satirical writing was published. In the letters section of Captain America #122, he had two
consecutive letters printed: the first under his own name and home address and, directly beneath it, a second separately-sent
letter from “Toronto, Ontario” which he’d signed with the name of deceased villain Baron Zemo. In it, “Zemo”
implored Marvel writer/editor Stan Lee against resurrecting Cap’s former World War II teen partner Bucky Barnes in favor
of himself: “I’m begging you, Stan—keep the kid dead and let me return!” Lee, who had met
Morgan eighteen months earlier in Toronto, wrote the following editorial reply: “Sooo! The infamous Baron Zemo is alive
and well in Toronto, ehhh? (TORONTO?!?).”
Over the next few years, Morgan’s style of comic book letter
writing would become so distinctive that the iconoclastic American humor magazine National Lampoon parodied his letter
writing style in their “Is Nothing Sacred?” issue (January 1972). In the Marvel pastiche ‘‘Son-O’-God
Comics’’ which was written by Canadian associate editor Michel Choquette, the first letter in the fake letters
section at the end of the story was attributed to having been written by “Stan Spooner, Toronto, Canada”. This
parody letter accurately spoofed Morgan’s writing style in tone and spirit, right down to its similar use of a spiritual
closing salutation (Morgan: Pacem in Terris; Spooner: Yours in Christ).
In 1973, Morgan began writing letters
to CREEM, which led to his hiring, a year later, by Lester Bangs.
One of Morgan’s first instances as a comic book writer appeared
in issue #16 (April 1979) of the alternative press anthology series Star*Reach. His 16-page cover story, “Murphy’s
Law,’’ was illustrated by Ken Steacy.
Morgan wrote volume two of Dean Motter’s Vortex Comics series
Mister X, the first volume of which ran 12 issues cover-dated June 1984 to August 1988. When Motter left the first,
color series to work on other projects, he asked Morgan to assume the writing duties for a second, black and white volume,
which ran 12 issues cover-dated April 1989 to March 1990.
In 2008, again at Motter’s behest, Morgan wrote the introduction
to Volume One of Dark Horse Comics’ hardcover omnibus Mister X: The Archives.
In 2011, Dark
Horse reprinted Morgan’s Mister X stories in a 320 page deluxe hardcover edition titled The Brides of Mister
X and Other Stories.
In 2012, Morgan announced that he was writing the introduction to Howard Chaykin’s
graphic novel prequel and postquel to Black Kiss, the “considerably filthier” Black Kiss
2, to be published eventually in a collected deluxe hardcover edition by Image Comics.