The Shiek
Capital News
Sydney Film Festival
Credit: Published in Capital News October 2002 Vol.27 No.10

CHAD MORGAN - 50 Years of the best
Written By: John Paten Chad Morgan One artist who is definitely a link with the past, and as close to the traditions of Henry Lawson and A.B. Paterson as any of the early pioneers, is none other than Australia's first native songster, Chad Morgan. Chadwick William Morgan was born at Wondai, Queensland, on February 11, 1933, to Dave and Ivy Morgan.
At an early age he was raised by his grandparents, who had moved from town to town in search of work.
Morgan was so tormented by his obvious appearance - "those teeth" - that he made an appointment to have his natural teeth removed. In Morgan's own words "The old farm truck broke down and I missed the appointment". He never did get around to making another. His teeth, now his trademark, have since became part of Australia's heritage.

At 16, Morgan penned a comical song which in later years would become his signature tune. The Sheik of Scrubby Creek was intended to be a serious love ballad, to win the heart of a girl who he had fallen for. Halfway through writing, he thought "I can get any sheila I want, I'm a sheik" and so it was written.

At 19, Morgan was drafted for National Service Training, RAAF Base at Amberley. His colleagues dared him to enter a talent quest; he took the dare and won the Brisbane heat. Being so successful, he was flown down to Sydney to appear on Terry Dear's Amateur Hour, where he also won the semi finals.

This prompted EMI to offer Chad a recording contract. The Sheik of Scrubby Creek backed with You Can Have Your Women I'll Stick To My Booze was released on the Regal label on October 24, 1952. Later that year Morgan came second in the Amateur Hour grand final. In fair dealing the "Sheik" was the biggest seller in Australia, outselling international entertainers Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra.

Morgan's only ambition was to record for the famous Regal Zonophone label, after which he would then return to Scrubby Creek where life went back to normal. He went working the cane fields of Childers, later heading to Rockhampton catching cattle. Returning home for the festive season on his motorbike, he was pushed off the road and rammed into a tree. After spending 14 months in hospital, he returned to Sydney to embark on a career which would make him one of the most popular entertainers of all time.

Throughout Sydney, Morgan made many guest appearances and gained a huge affectionate following. His first country tour was with Slim Dusty in 1956, and he became the show's ace card. In 1958, Chad, Rick & Thel, Kevin King and Nev Nicholls took out the All Star Western Show which was believed to be the greatest variety show ever staged in Australia. Unfortunately the show ended John Paten after 14 months, later going out as "The Chad Morgan Show" featuring Rick & Thel. About this time Morgan became the first Australian country music entertainer (main stream) to ever be released on a 10-inch LP - a genuine collector's item. He instantly became EMI's biggest record selling artist. He certainly earned recognition in the entertainment world for his outstanding comedy act and as a composer.

While touring Australia Morgan made sure he had fun. If he wasn't racing cars off the highway, he was playing a modern game of William Tell with a .303. Morgan explains "Trevor Day & myself were travelling outback Queensland, we stopped beside a billabong for lunch. Well I had me .303, doing some roo shooting as we went. Trevor yells out "Hey Morgan, you reckon you're good, see if you can take this can off me head at 50 yards."
I said "No, better not." Trevor said "You haven't got the guts, uh?"
"Well, it was 50 yards off the shoulder, I took that bloody can off his head."
Picture: John Paten