Part of obituary for music publisher and pop promoter Bryan Morrison which I am writing for the Real Tennis and Rackets Association.
I played polo (badly) and Real Tennis (more successfully) with Bryan who was one of the game’s great characters, a self-confessed ‘Crazy Diamond’, the title of his 2006 autobiography.
Bryan Morrison, the charismatic music publisher, pop promoter, polo patron and co-owner of the Holyport Real Tennis Club died in September 2008 from brain damage sustained during a fall on the polo field. A driven entrepreneur, self-confident to the point of arrogance, Morrison came from a poor working-class family in Hackney and briefly managed Pink Floyd then amassed a huge fortune, estimated at around £60 million, mainly through handling the lucrative song catalogues of stars including Elton John, the Bee Gees and George Michael.
He was usually seen chomping on a large cigar and revelled in his tycoon image of being “the cockney with a Hockney.” After founding the Royal Berkshire Polo Club, he met and played with many aristocrats, tycoons and members of the royal family including Princes Charles, William and Harry. He also employed the Duchess of York’s father Major Ronald Ferguson as his polo manager
In 1985 Morrison and business partner David Pearl became co-owners of the picturesque Holyport Club which world champion Chris Ronaldson and Australian professional Colin Lumley had bought the previous year to save it from being demolished for flats. Morrison became a Real Tennis fanatic, relishing its tactical aspects and playing four times a week, determined to break a 30-handicap. He was furious when he reached 29, only for the game’s governing body, the Tennis and Rackets Associaion to raise handicaps across the board by around 3 points.
Morrison instigated the Villagers’ Cup for anyone living in Holyport and this has now become an annual summer celebration attracting scores of new members to the club. After dinner parties at his home, he would often bring a merry band of guests including numerous celebrities to the club in his big black Bentley for an impromptu Real Tennis game at 3am.
After separating from his wife Greta, he lived in London and played regularly at Queen’s, enjoying the craic with his fellow-reprobate, the entertaining club professional Andrew Lyons, but he remained an owner of Holyport up to the polo accident in 2006 which left him in the irreversible coma which ultimately caused his death.
Bryan Morrison, music publisher and pop promoter, was born on August 14, 1942. He died on September 27, 2008, from the effects of a fall during a polo match, aged 66