"I wanna be a banjo player and a man!" - Fuzzbee at 3
From early childhood, Fuzzbee was surrounded by and
sought out the extraordinary. His father, Arthur D. Morse, a producer/director/reporter for CBS News' See It Now and
CBS Reports, would take little Fuzzbee to the cutting room,
where he would slide into 2nd base (Walter Cronkite) and
3rd base (Edward R. Murrow), folding these news giants into his imaginary baseball game. He met his greatest boyhood sports hero, Mickey Mantle. At home, he'd sneak down the staircase to see Rod Serling at his parents' cocktail parties.
The little boy taught himself to read by following along with Gilbert & Sullivan librettos, producing quite an unusual vocabulary for a young lad. At 5, when his older sister Ann was taking piano lessons, he'd hide under the bed 'til the lesson was over (her teacher, Mr. Thrailkill, was bald and scary with a weird yellow car) and then mosey on down to the piano when the room was clear to play by ear whatever he was hearing. This didn't go unnoticed and his parents saw his easy affinity for music of all kinds, supplying him with lessons when he was ready for a less frightening creature than Thrailkill as a teacher.
Too small to reach the piano pedals or play a full-size guitar, he
started on baritone ukelele and pedal-less piano, graduating to a Spanish guitar at 8 and 1st electric guitar at 9. Long hair and the English Invasion were in full swing as Fuzzbee formed his first band, The Oddballs, who did skewered take-offs of Beatle songs and the
like, with plenty of puns and silliness in the lyrics. Courtesy of his grandfather Frankie, he got to see some favorite bands perform live
on the Ed Sullivan show, including the Rolling Stones' famous semi-censored performance of Let's Spend 'Some Tiiiime' Together. "The Night" was far too suggestive for that era.
FZ & FM
A huge early hero from grade school through high school
was Frank Zappa, who Fuzzbee first met at age 13. An enormous part
of his musical education and de facto mentor, Zappa, both through his albums and in one-to-one conversations, turned Fuzzbee on to
all sorts of Modern Classical, Jazz and R&B greats. All of a sudden, Stravinsky, Coltrane, doo-wop, Charles Ives & many others were
added into the Rock 'n' Roll and Blues musical stew in which adolescent Fuzzbee was already steeped. Zappa, who
could be an intimidating character, always made himself available
to Fuzzbee on his trips to New York. He once gave the 14 year-old a ride to his own concert at the Fillmore East, dropping the kid off at
the theater in front of his stunned junior high school friends.
Later that year, Fuzzbee & family moved to Rome for 2 years of Italian adventures. There he studied with perennial Academy Award conductor & composer, Bill Conti. He started jamming in clubs with the great violinist, Jean-Luc Ponty. He toured around Europe by train and van with his band of the time, full of highly mischievous characters who've remained lifelong friends. All sorts of adventures ensued, including jamming with Ponty and Robert Wyatt (Soft Machine) at Ronnie Scott's Club in London, hearing the immortals Jimi Hendrix & Miles Davis at the Isle Of Wight, and wearing lots of velvet trousers. He also had the opportunity to give an orange-hued Richard Nixon the finger at close range in front of his loving (and approving) mother, Joan.
Back To The States
After the sudden, shattering death of his beloved father
in a car crash in Yugoslavia, at age 16 Fuzzbee graduated
high school and moved back to the States to attend
Berklee in Boston. There he teamed up with great pals
keyboard/woodwind whiz Greg Hawkes & drummer Ron
Riddle and accelerated his composing and arranging skills.
During this time, Fuzzbee met Weather Report founder Joe Zawinul, who, like Zappa, gave generously of his time & attention to the precocious teenager. They had hours-long phone calls and Joe provided many introductions to other luminaries. Naivete and persistence landed Fuzzbee in the office of a very powerful manager, who informed him (after an unsuccessful seduction attempt) that he'd sign his band Waves and make "everything happen for you if the drummer is cute." This led to one of the more confused; memorable band meetings in Waves' collective history.
Boyhood Dreams Come True
One evening at the Berklee dorm in Boston, Fuzzbee was tipped to Frank Zappa's attendance at nearby Paul's Mall where Cannonball Adderley was playing. Zappa welcomed him warmly to have drinks with himself, George Duke (who ordered milk), Aynsley Dunbar, Ian Underwood and other heros. Zappa invited him to his soundcheck the next day and then, between shows, 16 year-old Fuzzbee had the dream musical encounter of his life to that point - playing guitars with Frank Zappa and likely playing his best ever, at that crucial, timeless moment. Zappa invited him to New York to do some double guitar recording. When Fuzzbee offered Zappa a tape of recent gigs with mutual friend Ponty, Frank turned and said,
"I don't need to hear a tape, I heard you right now.
You sound great!" - Frank Zappa
What Ifs and What Is
Moving out of the Berklee dorm to the classic "house in the country with the band" scene, along with partners-in-crime Hawkes & Riddle, much fine, inventive music was made, both live and in the studio. After a time, they joined forces with Ric Ocasek and Benjamin Orr in a hot lil' band, playing around New England as Richard and the Rabbits. All had valuable studio experience, recording plenty of material at beautifully equipped local studio, Aengus. Several incarnations later, Ocasek, Orr & Hawkes conquered the radio as The Cars after Morse & Riddle had moved out of Massachusetts to seemingly warmer pastures.
Around this time, Fuzzbee was introduced to another extraordinary character, Prem Rawat, better known as Maharaji. Also a teenager, Maharaji radiated such a serious & effortless amount of vibe that he was hard to deny, fathom or write off as some sort of mystic fluke. Much to the concern & bafflement of family and friends, Fuzzbee started meditating and discovering the joys of a beautifully tuned inner world he had no idea existed - a practice that enriched and enhanced all other aspects of his life. Savoring each moment, as it arrives, ended up being a reliable ticket for squeezing the utmost pleasure out of every important encounter, be it musical, sexual, culinary, athletic, conversational or just soaking in the natural beauty of stars, clouds, people or plates of white truffle risotto.
Fuzzbee ended up playing "gigs" for and with Maharaji in Australia, India, all over Europe, the Americas (a job a friend once described as being like the Paul Shaffer, albeit taller & with more hair, for the Dalai Lama). Great times, great travels, powerful events, lots of laughs, priceless people and plenty of inspiration ensued.
The Kid's a Motherfucker!
While based in Miami Beach for a number of years, and enjoying the warmth & swimmable ocean after New England, Fuzzbee developed more out-of-the-ordinary friendships. He received several messages on his then-new cassette answering machine saying, "Hey man, this is Jaco. I could really use your help teaching me something..." and believed the calls to be a friend pranking, rather than the unparalleled Bass icon of Weather Report and Joni Mitchell. The calls went unreturned. The third call was picked up live & went like this:
JP: "Yeah, hey, is this Fuzzbee?"
FM:"Yes it is, who's this?"
JP:"This is Jaco. Man, you're harder to get a hold of than Miles Davis! Can I please get you to talk to me?”
FM thinks: "Hmmmm, this ISN'T any voice in my mental
Rolodex, can it?...it must be..." Thus started an unforgettable series of lessons (teaching Jaco the Prophet-10 synthesizer) and jams, usually with the great steel drummer, Othello Molineaux.
"Jaco was, perhaps, the single greatest instrumentalist I ever witnessed on any instrument, and an extremely volcanic, moody person, given to great joy and equal dissolution. Luckily, I was around him at a time when his life was more stable and he was generally thriving." – FM
When Fuzzbee arrived at Jaco's house for their first "lesson" he mentioned his previous friendship with Joe Zawinul, Jaco's brother in Weather Report, to establish some common ground & comfort level. Jaco grunted and excused himself, while Fuzzbee played the beautiful grand piano in his foyer (another attempt to establish credibility). Jaco returned in about 10 minutes and, looking unnervingly dead serious, said, "I just got off the phone with Joe." Uh-huh. "I asked him about you." Really? (Now feeling nervous, hoping Zawinul hadn't suffered some sort of memory loss). What'd he say? Big po' faced stare, then his elastic face melting into an ultra mischievous grin - "he said, 'the kid's a motherfucker!' C'mon, let's play!" And then he led Fuzzbee into his Florida room where he had him play drums (to test his feel) along with his stand-up bass, percussion and anything else that was laying around. They hit it off completely and the jams Fuzzbee had on guitar with Jaco are among his greatest musical memories.
"A great player can kill you, thrill you, with one note. One note can do anything in the right hands. One beautifully played note can split atoms - one badly played note can clear stadiums." – FM
He learned this lesson from Hendrix, Miles, Coltrane, Albert King, Jaco and others, and it's become a musical ethos for him, transcending genre or era. "Though you may have the facility to play volleys of notes, fast & furiously, what you can squeeze out of a single note, with beautiful tone and real depth of feeling, has a limitless meaning and timeless emotion."
Conspiracy Of Hope
One of the most memorable tours Fuzzbee's had the pleasure to be a part of was the Amnesty International Conspiracy Of Hope tour of 1986. Getting the job of lead guitar & keyboards with Lou Reed via dear friend Fernando Saunders, the tour consisted of U2, Peter Gabriel, Sting (and The Police), The Neville Brothers, Lou Reed, Bryan Adams and Joan Baez. Guest performers on the tour included Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Miles Davis, Carlos Santana, Robin Williams and plenty of others. Many meaningful friendships were formed on the tour and the concerts were outstanding. Sting & Fuzzbee were undefeated in tennis doubles on the tour, leading to their designation as The Almost All-England Club. The jam sessions at the tour's hotel in Atlanta, including Bono, Peter Gabriel, Aaron & Cyril Neville & Lou Reed, were an especially unforgettable aspect.
After the Amnesty Tour, Fuzzbee decided to kick his productivity up a gear and moved from the pleasant hedonism of Miami Beach out to LA. There, staying with high school bandmate from Rome, film composer Richard Band, he was offered his first movie score, Dolls, within one week. Thus kickstarted, he began another branch of his career, whipping up music, both scores & songs, for Film & TV. Among Fuzzbee's favorites of his screen ventures are Mr. Wong, a rude & hilarious animated series helmed by South Park producers Kyle McCulloch and Pam Brady, and Wanderlust, a Comedy Central series directed by Tom Stern. He's also had songs placed in many movies via licensing.
Living in Los Angeles, Fuzzbee's already large contingent of musical pals and partners-in-crime multiplied. He toured Japan & America with Karla Bonoff and Kenny Edwards, produced songs/tracks for Richie Havens, Alex Band (The Calling) & a wide variety of film projects. He wrote the music for many commercials, including MGM Grand, icebox.com, Miami Beach, Key West, Banco Popular, Bank Hapoalim Harrah's.
Over the years, Fuzzbee hooked up in various musical situations with longtime paisan, drummer Jerry Marotta, keyboard great David Sancious and bassist extraordinaire, Tony Levin. This quartet went on to record all the tracks for Fuzzbee's debut album, soon to be unleashed.
Brothers of Invention
In early 2006, Fuzzbee struck up a friendship with another one-of-a-kind human being, Microsoft co-founder and avid guitarist, Paul Allen. A few days after a memorable late-night jam on some Jimi Hendrix classics, Allen invited Fuzzbee to join him & his smokin' band on one of his breathtaking super-yachts, traveling to Cozumel, Belize and the Mayan ruins of Tulum, all the while playing lots of great music, feasting on white truffle pasta & drinking the finest libations.
That friendship has continued and the billionaire idea man the somewhat less funded, yet richly-lived rocker have had many unforgettable music nights, which included such luminaries as Daniel Lanois, Axl Rose, Dan Aykroyd, Dave Stewart, Derek Trucks, Susan Tedeschi, Robert Randolph, No Doubt,and the Marotta/Levin rhythm section. Turns out the two guys lived on the same funky street in Cambridge, Mass. many years before, at a time when their bank accounts were roughly the same.
The Flying Fannoli Brothers
Fuzzbee, longtime cohort Nick Jameson (Lost, 24, Foghat, Paul Butterfield, West Wing, Seinfeld) and Gary Anthony Williams
(Weeds, Boston Legal, Undercover Brother, The Boondocks) have
been performing as music/comedy improv band, The Flying Fannoli Brothers, since 1998. An endlessly inventive, highly unpredictable
and seriously funny band, the Fannolis play all sorts of instruments
& make up lyrics about any subject, in any style, on the spot. The easiest way to understand the singular appeal of the Fannolis is to watch a clip or two – enjoy!
Along with the release of Dreams and Other Living Things [fuzzbee.bandcamp.com], Fuzzbee has been producing and playing on a number of recent projects, including Freebo's albums Something To Believe In and If Not Now When, Andy Pratt's Chasing Shadows and The New Normal?, Paul D'Adamo's Rawfully Organic (with Jerry Marotta & Tony Levin), Nickodemus's Moon People, Eric Schwartz's The Better Man and the upcoming album from Amanda Blue Leigh.
Home in LA, Fuzzbee can be found regularly playing up a storm at venues/events including: Afro Funke' Night at Zanzibar with brilliant KCRW DJ Jeremy Sole & great guest DJs from around the world; The Floor at King King; Canter's Kibitz Room on Tuesdays with The F.O.C.K.R.s; and ecstatic monthly World/House/Electronica night, The Lift. The ability to play in different styles, to different crowds, on different instruments, with consistently explosive results is Fuzzbee's natural gift. People go wild and enjoy themselves thoroughly to the music and energy of Fuzzbee Morse and his co-conspirators!