LOS ANGELES (CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — Freelance music journalist Darryl Morden passed away on February 25, 2011 after a long battle with cancer according to The Examiner. He was 52.
A popular fixture in Los Angeles, Morden was a familiar sight, regularly seen at concerts and music industry events, with notepad in hand. Morden worked for numerous media outlets during his three decade long career, garnering a respected reputation as a tireless music scribe.
Among his achievements, Mordens’s career included working as the head producer for Casey Kasem’s ‘American Top 40’ radio show. Morden wrote trivia-filled scripts about top charting songs, and interviewed recording artists for sound clips that were played during its broadcast. In 1988, as Shadoe Stevens served as the show’s voice, Morden was appointed as its associated producer. He also spent part of the last three decades working for Premiere Radio Network, and served as Executive Producer for the World Chart Show, the first countdown show of International Hit Radio. His job path also included working as the Producer/Music Supervisor at Movie Tunes, and he held other titles at additional entertainment companies. Morden's articles were published by Billboard, Launch/Yahoo, Cashbox and numerous other media outlets. Additionally, many publicists hired him throughout the years to write bios and other press materials.
Chris Morris, a music critic at Daily Variety, served as Morden’s editor at the Hollywood Reporter for two years, beginning in 1991. Reacting to his death, Morris commented, “Darryl was just a music lover. His enthusiasm was infectious. He was always out there looking at stuff. When I was using him as a writer at The Reporter, I gave him a lot of work, because he could write about just about anything. His knowledge and his interests just didn’t have any bounds, and that made him a really valuable resource.”
Morris noted, “But mostly, people who have been posting things about him have said the same thing. They talked about his generosity, his spirit, his sweetness and his warmth. That’s really what characterized him as a person, and I think that sensibility found its way into his writing.”
Reflecting further, Morris added, “He really brought a great deal of affection to writing about music. That’s what I’ll always cherish him for,” according to The Examiner.
Despite the fatigue and other symptoms Morden suffered as a result of the cancer and chemotherapy, there would still be many articles graced with his byline. He continued to review CDs, DVDs, films and other media, while battling his illness, for which he was treated at Cedars Sinai Medical Center.
Morris expressed reverence for Morden’s relentless drive to write, stating, “Darryl was very courageous about his illness. He stayed out there, and kept working while he was going through therapy. He never stopped.”
He remarked, “The other night, I went on his blog, and his last blog post was written at the beginning of February. I mean, he was working just about until the end, which is astonishing, because he must have been incredibly weak. He never stopped. So add that to everything. He had a remarkable amount of character and strength.”
According to his obituary in The Hollywood Reporter, his final THR review was published on October, 2010. Written By Erik Pedersen, it praised the fact that Morden covered a wide range of music.
Grammy.com and Yahoo are among other sites that have made note of Morden's passing.
Buzzine.com, for which he was an Editor-at-Large and Senior Contributor, marked his passing with a special editorial, citing his vast contributions to its media outlet. On February 28, 2011, the online site published a moving piece written by Morden, in which he wrote, “I’ve also compiled a list of songs, many recorded live, for this battle against cancer.”
Morden also penned a blog under the moniker “That Writer Guy.”
A tireless writer, Morden also wrote four columns for Examiner.com while battling cancer. The site is owned by owned by Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG). Examiner.com's Entertainment Channel Director Kevin Staunton pointed out, “Darryl possessed a wide array of interests and passions that combined to give him an incredibly unique voice." Staunton added, "He leaves behind a treasure of insights that will certainly provide a degree of solace for his family and fans alike.”
A testament to his diversity as a writer, in addition to articles about music, Morden also wrote for Examiner.com about comics and novels. He attended his first science fiction convention while in junior high. His favorite genre specific authors include Harlan Ellison, Philip Jose Farmer, Robert Silverberg, Spider Robinson, Jim Butcher, Simon R. Green and many others.
On February 8, 2011, in one of his Examiner.com columns, he wrote about the impending June 2011 release of ‘Green Lantern: Emerald Knights.’ That same week, he also wrote an article for the site about the ‘Narnia Dawn Trader’ Blu-Ray that will be in retail outlets this April.
His final Examiner.com entry was published on February 9, an article about a double disc Roy Orbison singles compilation, slated for release by Sony’s Legacy Recordings on April 5, 2011.
That Morden would not live to review the above-mentioned releases immediately spawned a flurry of postings on social networks, primarily Facebook.
It was music publicist Cary Baker, President of the music publicity firm Conqueroo, who notified the majority of music publicists throughout the country that Morden had cancer. On August 1, 2010, on Morden’s behalf, Baker circulated an email, written by the longtime music journalist, revealing that he had been hospitalized on July 17, 2010 for emergency surgeries because “traces of cancer cells were found.”
In that message disseminated by Baker, Morden expressed optimism that he could beat cancer, stating, “I am back to writing and will try to catch up on as many CD, DVD, Blu-ray, book and other reviews as possible.”
Baker, one of the most highly revered publicists in the music business, represents clients that include the legendary Stax Records and 2011 Grammy nominee Trombone Shorty. Baker is keenly aware that there is often a gap, an “us versus them” attitude that exists between writers and publicists. Many PR flacks make it clear that they solely value writers, or their relationships with them, based on the importance of the media outlets for which they work. Baker is among those working in public relations that enjoys close relationships with many journalists, regardless of whether or not they have an A list status. That ethic, and a love of music, would result in a deep and mutual respect between Baker and Morden.
Baker offered a heart rendering description of Morden’s final year, saying, “Even though Darryl’s health had not been up to par these past few years, he combined both his inner strength and his passion for music by going to hear it live, even if only for a few songs. It’s no small feat to drive from the Eastern San Fernando Valley to McCabe’s to catch half a set, and then drive home. He so much wished he could remain until the encore.”
He observed, “ The music gave him strength in the face of failing health, just as it had his entire life. Darryl was someone who always wanted to be helpful, always had kind word, always asking how others were doing, even when he felt his weakest.”
Baker noted, “He saw past the traditionally adversarial publicist-writer relationship enough to realize that many publicists were just as passionate about music as he was. Darryl loved all kinds of music. He helped me explore my heart when I was offered a job at a Nashville label, and we both agreed it was probably not the best move for me. Until last week, Darryl was still listening to the CDs I had sent him, posting news items about my artists on his blog and sending me the links.”
The Los Angeles based publicist commented, “Although his Facebook posts became increasingly downcast, he had engendered such good will, finding so much strength in his wife Barbara and son Declan. Fortunately, he also derived strength from a wealth of friends, some he knew by face, and others primarily from Facebook. I, for one, consider myself lucky to have known him all these years.”
Morden is survived by his wife Barbara Seals Morden and their eight year-old son Declan. A fund has been organized to help his family pay for medical expenses incurred during his struggle with cancer.
According to The Examiner.