“After Charles sat in with Phil Keaggy, Phil said, “Now, that guy is a guitar player! He has the ‘it’ factor.” —Natalie Holcroft Morrill
Introduction & Interview With
Charlie Wayne Morrill
By Londa R. Marks | Metal Music Interviews
Published By Rock Legend News, Firenze, Italy
Londa R. Marks, is founder of Rock Legend News, founder and administrator of Pete Way Facebook Group, a founder of Metal Method Productions, a founder, sponsor and designer of HAWK, Hollywood, CA, 80’s glam rock band.
One of the most devoted friends and hardest workers I have known aside from myself is full blooded Cherokee, Charles Morrill, born February 24, 1964. Charles is the original vocalist for HAWK. And, for me, he is the only HAWK vocalist. Although Charles would casually say, “It’s not work, it’s just life to me.” And, it is. Any day, any time of the day, at any cost, Charles has always been ‘on’ and ready for a project or will happily play guitar and sing for anyone who is around. He is a true artist. The kind you find in history books.
Charles is family. He has always treated me with the highest regard, respect and as an equal artist and as a family member, as I do him. He has given me credit in his work even if I haven’t contributed anything to it and sends me copies of his new work. A couple of times he has told me that if I ever needed a place to live I could live at his house.
Charles is a very sentimental and caring human being with a genuinely good heart. Like many Native Americans he is true to his spirit; understands it and honors it.
Many call him Charlie, but I have called him Charles since he sent a package to me with his return address as Charles Morrill. The package was audition material for the HAWK vocalist position in 1984. Out of thousands who sent in audition material Charles resonated with me artistically. He was exactly the vocalist I was hoping to find for HAWK. The vocalist ad was placed in Circus, Hit Parader, Bam magazines.
Doug Marks, my ex and partner in Metal Method Productions and HAWK, had been staying in Hollywood at the time I received Charles’ package. He was working on some guitar lessons but I felt that I desperately had to find him and tell him about Charles. Eventually, I ended up at the Troubadour and there he was. I showed him the package and exclaimed how awesome the tape was and that he should listen to it. Well, he agreed about Charles. Jim Gillette (Michael Angelo Batio), David Fefolt, who eventually sang on the HAWK album, had applied too but no one really had what Charles has which is unique character and natural spirit that fit my idea of HAWK. Those types are very rare.
Charles has been homeless at times living out of his Chevy Vega with Axl Rose who carried around his notebook of songs which included, “Welcome To The Jungle” and “Sweet Child Of Mine.” Axel Rose admired Charles and opened for him a few times in the early Hollywood glam days. He and Charles would find a way to crash at a recording studio in Vernon, CA. Regardless of any situation Charles always makes the best of it and tries to find the song from it all. I have never seen him angry. Hurt, yes, but not angry.
At the age of 16, Charles formed the band, High Times, with future HAWK and BulletBoys bassist Lonnie Vincent (Miller) and childhood friend and drummer Mike Edwards. Mike still lives in LA, but plays with Charles when he can. High Times performed all over South Bay and at the legendary Gazzari’s on Sunset Strip. High Times became Black Knight years before Motley Crue, Ratt, Poison, W.A.S.P., Dokken, and similar bands ruled the Strip. Axel still loyally followed Charles and his new project HAWK at the time when other artists like Ted Nugent and Jon Bon Jovi were taking notice of HAWK — as was Ahmet Ertegun, co-founder and president of Atlantic Records. Ahmet Ertegun was interested in signing HAWK just at the time it was imploding.
Former Lita Ford drummer Glenn Burtis was the original HAWK drummer until Scott Travis sent his audition material in reply to the ads. After receipt of his material I spent a few months talking to Scott on the phone trying to persuade him to relocate to Hollywood. He was living with his mother in Norfolk,Virginia. In the meantime I was also doing my best to talk Doug into agreeing to fly Scott to Hollywood to try out for the band.
One day the band was in the living room of the HAWK house in Woodland Hills, minus Glenn, and I put Scotts video on in hopes of persuading them to accept Scott. Everyone became silent with opened mouths and eyes. Charles was impressed, but he was also loyal to Glenn and it took some time for him to realize Scott deserved a tryout.
Eventually, we flew Scott and his girlfriend Sharon to Hollywood. Doug and I rented an apartment for Scott, Sharon, Charles, his wife Sherry and children to live in. Lonnie basically lived at the HAWK house with Doug and I, and we rented the Rock House in Burbank and SRI studios in Hollywood for rehearsals.
"Like a raw, untamed Cherokee raiding the badlands to conquer, Charles attacks the guitar with his emotions and his heart and you feel what he feels.”
—Londa R. Marks
I will never forget the day I took Charles to Guitar Center in Sherman Oaks to get a black Ovation guitar. That was a guitar I envisioned for him, and it was a perfect fit. He was so excited and his eyes lit up like the shining star he is. Naturally talented, he picked it up and played it like it was always his. Charles is one of the best guitarists around. I like that he isn’t afraid to take a risk musically. I think it’s because he knows that the risks are where you find those unusual extras that add to uniqueness in a project — or anything for that matter; and that risk can equal value. Like a raw, untamed Cherokee raiding the badlands to conquer, Charles attacks the guitar with his emotions and his heart and you feel what he feels.
HAWK is almost like a mythical story that continues to resonate on a realm by itself. It’s there but it’s not there; but it won’t leave. Members of Hawk included: Doug Marks (MetalMethod.com), Scott Travis (Judas Priest), Charles Morrill (Charlie Wayne Morrill), Lonnie Vencent (BulletBoys). It was my job to find talent, create band image and all art along with some managerial duties. I still maintain the Official HAWK Facebook Page.
The chemistry of talented musicians, edgy art, Doug Marks’ melodic guitarscapes and managerial expertise made HAWK a dream glam band. Even the best chemistries can be explosive though.
Johnny Rod had just quit King Kobra to join W.A.S.P., so Lonnie Vencent Miller, who was currently without a band, took over the bass duties for King Kobra and King Kobra’s lead singer at the time Mark Free left the band. Lonnie suggested his old high school friend and former HAWK band member Charlie Morrill for the lead vocal gig in King Kobra. With Charlie on vocals, King Kobra toured parts of the U.S. and Europe.
By the end of 2004 Charles and his friend of many years Ron Keel (Steeler, Keel, Iron Horse) teamed up to form the duo Keel & Wayne. Lonnie Vencent became the bass player and a founder of BulletBoys. Scott Travis ultimately became drummer for Judas Priest; a band he envisioned being drummer for since he was a child. In 2006 Charlie rejoined the BulletBoys on guitar and toured across the country opening for Poison and Cinderella.
Charles, still busy as ever has his own bands Platinum Rose and Love Rukus, owns property and a recording studio in Nashville, TN, yet took some time to answer questions in an interview presented here.
Interview With Charlie Wayne Morrill
Rock Legend News: You are owner and producer of Villa Records,
(https://villarecords.net). How did you come up with your studio name? Tell us about your studio and record company?
Charlie Wayne Morrill: Well.... I also painted signs for a wile as you know cause it was a passion for me. I paInted a sign years ago for a restaurant called The Villa. After 25 years they had shut down and the metal signs i made and painted were giving to me. So I hung just the Villa part out side my little cottage in the woods where I live and as I finished building my studio there I looked and said... hmmmm, well, there’s the name, and thats it.
Rock Legend News: Charles, you tend to create a theatre of music. Your songs are visual from the title to the end. For example, Daylight Walker, The Night Man, Hey Mr. Shadow includes narrative elements that make the listener become involved with the song kind of like watching a movie. But, that has always been your style, taking bits and pieces of what you are surrounded by and turning it into music. And, you are very empathic drawing from those frequencies or energies that you are receiving from your environment. “Monsters,” your new album with your band Love Ruckus includes your beautiful wife Natalie Holcroft who reminds me of a Botticelli goddess. She’s a great addition to your expressions, adding another dimension to your art. You are becoming more involved in video production and I can see how it is a great outlet for you to combine your music and theatrical elements. I don’t think you plan as much as you go with how you are feeling and how the ‘gods’ direct you, as any true artist would, but do you think about developing more theatrical types of videos like your Monsters video?
Charlie Wayne Morrill: Wow! You are exactly right, and its funny you say the gods, cause I do channel from somewhere and I always say thank you for each song. I say “Thank you to the music GODS.” Yes, I am starting to feel out my video ability. And I see what you mean. I am truly aiming at black n’ white video. I am starting to be able to reach my visual goal. It all will start looking like old monster moves I hope; that’s my goal any way. I will also be going through my older videos like Monsters and redoing them in that format. The songs like Daylight Walker, its funny you said that song, because those are the exact songs coming up next for video.
Rock Legend News: When I first listened to Footsteps I was drawn in like many of your songs. Then the ending came too soon and it stopped almost as if it was unfinished — at least unfinished according to what is usually consider unfinished. The ending does make you want more of the song though. However, I absolutely love that you ended it like that because it is a very rebel approach and rebels are innovators. It’s kind of like finding out there is no Santa Clause, but did you do that on purpose, was it an accident or being the prolific artist you are, did you got in a hurry to hatch outthe next song and eventually came back to Footsteps then decided to record it as is? Knowing you, I would say that it could have been any of those. Am I close or could I be seeing this through mythical eyes?
Charlie Wayne Morrill: All the above is true. You hit it on the nail. Footsteps was Black Knight days and yes there were other songs I was trying to get to. So thats how it went. By the time I recorded it all these years later I recorded how it went and hoped it would just leave you wanting more. YOU HAVE an esp for this stuff. You are truly right on the whole thing!
Rock Legend News: Have you played other instruments on any of your songs and if so, which ones and what instruments? And does your brother Dave play bass on any of your work?
CWM: No, David has been kinda sick. He had a stroke. I have recorded every instrument on the Monsters album and I played drums, the bass, all guitars and vocals. I did play bass as if Dave was with me in spirt.
Rock Legend News: Footsteps, Daylight Walker, The Night Man, Dreamer, No One To Love, Hey Mr. Shadow, Black Knight, Bang Bang, are some great creative songs. I have listened to them many times and are some of my favorite songs of yours. What would you say is your favorite or favorites?
Charlie Wayne Morrill: Lonnie wrote the music to Bang Bang. I just put in the lyrics. And I wrote No One To Love but Doug wrote the lyrics to second verse to No One To Love. Those are also some of my favorites hmmmm..?? I guess I like Kettle Black and Mr Shadow. But truly my favorite has not been written yet; but coming soon. Oh, and Lovin’ You, would be one.
Rock Legend News: You have played with some top names in rock including BulletBoys with Lonnie Vencent one of the founders of the band. You and Lonnie grew up together, do you two consider playing again on any projects?
Charlie Wayne Morrill: We’ve have talked about it for years. I did recently join BulletBoys to do some reunion tours together. Lonnie and I always wish we could do a HAWK reunion show with all 4 of us. But he does call from time to time and have other ideas.
Rock Legend News: Okay, I have to ask you about HAWK. With so many fans of HAWK, especially with you as vocalist, you would be quite welcomed in Colombia, South America for example, if you toured with your HAWK album, “Let The Metal Live,” which is the original and my favorite version of recorded HAWK music as well. What are some of your fondest memories of being in HAWK and do you consider touring in Colombia for your many fans there?
Charlie Wayne Morrill: Damn... I would love to! I love the fans over there. They respect me and truly love me as I love them! My best memories of HAWK are of course when we sold out the Roxy. But when Doug and I were first recording together, just Doug and I before it all, when we would walk and talk of how it was going to be. Also when I spent time getting make up with the make up artist and the talks we would have, and all the talks after shows at the HAWK nest while having cocktails. We would talk of how we were gonna take on the world... priceless!! And one night when we got back from a show I remember that Motorhead’s Lemmy left me a scary message on the answering machine at the HAWK house. The minute we were listening to it his video at the same time came on (Kill By Death). What a freaking omen, and what a trip!
Rock Legend News: What do you think about the 70’s and 80’s rock styles being popular again? There are so many 70’s and 80’s tribute bands and bands from that era are touring again. But, in the 70s and 80s musicians were basically a family, they lived the rock ’n roll lifestyle and I think that added an element of creativity not found today in the current rock ’n roll space. Bands were essentially ‘one’ during that period with 4-5 brains bonded to the project. Do you think this 70’s and 80’s movement will be sustained or rearranged somehow? Or, will new and upcoming musicians find a way to add original, creative elements, because many of them sort of seem homogenous to me and lacking melodic, heartfelt songs which you are expert at?
Charlie Wayne Morrill: I do see some of that living together and 4 heads better then one but not much. And I agree because now anyone can be auto tuned and any one can make an album with a keyboard. It’s sadly slipping away I think. That’s why the title of my next album with Guitarist James Holland is called Dying Breed. I know there are lost souls out there that are channeling from the music gods, but if everyone could do it then it wouldn’t be magic. They say in ancient text that wizards were truly only music makers and that they would sing to what would come or sing for what would be.
It was magic in the truest form. I know I sing and my world appears as if I painted it in picture. So, it’s true.
Rock Legend News: Charles, you are quite prolific having recorded or are on about 30 albums. You’ve weathered many difficult times yet still have a highly positive view on life but, is there anything that youwould do differently if you could go back and start over?
CWM: NO! What was, was meant to be and it all was like school. As the song goes there are two roads you can go by. Well, thats how it’s always been for me. I sometimes think, but I know I chose correctly because it all has already been laid out for all of us.
Rock Legend News: Both you and Axl Rose are always busy but do you still communicate with Axl?
Charlie Wayne Morrill: Well, a little but he is wound up with AC/DC now and most likely getting a little burned out. There was a little talk about me trying out for the spot.
Rock Legend News: What’s the story about one of your songs, One Night With Lemmy? Is the song a montage or did he actually record that with you and if so, where was it originally recorded? (Note to Charles only visible to Charles: If you recorded it with Lemmy I will omit the montage sentence).
Charlie Wayne Morrill: It was a memories of when Lemmy and I became friends and the partying we did in his little apt. We did some drinking and some other stuff on Lemmy’s menu. We wont say what the ingredients were but we sat and talked for days on end with no sleep. Truly miss him.
Rock Legend News: Track 07 and Track 11 on Disk 3 you sent me are commercial rocker hits in my opinion, with some Hendrix style guitar at the beginning of Track 07. Nice guitar work as usual with some surprising original music shapes. That is one thing I have always really appreciated about you, you are original but, how much has Hendrix or other guitarists influenced you?
Charlie Wayne Morrill: Wow, great question. I loved Hendrix and when I was about 12, I played along with his records as well as PAGE..I was able to play the songs lick for lick back then and just kinda developed my own style through that. I know that now they were part of the plan... teachers to be, if you will.
Rock Legend News: Some of your songs include a theatrical, visual feel, and would be perfect for the right films. And, some have a really heavy feel like, The Night Man, which I find exceptionally creative along with Footsteps, Daylight Walker, Mr. Shadow Track 01 from disk 4. Disk 4, Track 16, Across the Street is a Yard Filled With Broken Dreams (not sure of the title), is a great song. Is there anything in particular you listen to when you are relaxing or find exceptional in today’s rock music Charles?
Charlie Wayne Morrill: Na.... I don’t like listening to anything cause I’m scared of being influenced. It drives my wife crazy but from time to time she has music on thats pretty cool like Sub Dudes. I don’t want to sound too crazy but truly my music just comes and if there is other music on I can’t hear what is coming, ya know what I mean?
Rock Legend News: Your videos too are very creative and have the Charles touch. Would you mind to let us know what software or tools you use to develop them?
Charlie Wayne Morrill: There are some really good movie making software and very expensive software out there that have used, but my favorite is Filmora.
Rock Legend News: Thank you for doing this interview with me Charles and thank you for being one of the best parts of my life. Working with you has always been a very natural and inspiring experience. You are an incredible artist. It’s difficult to find artists to work with who are truly professional and are exceptional genius creatives willing to work hard to accomplish a true art piece. The HAWK project we worked on together will always be dear to my heart. I sincerely hope you continue to see the abundant success you certainly deserve and keep good health as long as possible.
Charlie Wayne Morrill: LONDA you have truly touched my heart again. You are a great journalist and a visionary. Thank you as well. I hope your readers and all our fans like the answers I gave. I tried my best too, how can I explain? I love you... and to every one out there be good to each other. I love you all.
Charlie Wayne Morrill, founder and owner of Villa Records
HAWK Official Facebook Page Featuring HAWK pics of Charles https://www.facebook.com/HAWKRockBandOfficial/
More Rock Legend News Issues That May Include Charlie Wayne Morrill
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