WACO, Texas (KWTX) Country singer Gary Morris, who performs Wednesday night in Waco, played nearly a dozen times at the request of former President George H.W. Bush and remembers him as a great president who was “almost non-presidential” in his humility.
Gary Morris with the former president and first lady. (Courtesy photo)
“He was always, always lit up, very friendly,” Morris said.
“I would almost say non-presidential in not carrying the air about him when I was around him. Just a really, really cool guy.”
Morris, a Texas native who rose to fame with five No. 1 hits and 16 top ten singles, including “Why Lady Why” and “The Love She Found in Me,” was named Billboard’s New Male Artist of the Year in 1982.
At the height of his Nashville recording career, he was also tapped to play the lead role of Jean Valjean in Broadway’s hit “Les Miserables.”
Morris said Bush invited him to perform on numerous occasions.
“I played at least 10 different times for him which included a welcome back for the troops from the first Gulf War and I don't know how many times in the White House.”
While he may not recall the exact number of performances in the White House, there was one encounter in Washington, D.C., that stuck with him over the years.
“I was in the White House and I just performed and I was in the East Room with my manger and I hear this voice and it's ‘Gary, Gary, Gary, Gary’ and he's skipping into the East Room with his hands out.
“And he says ‘I want you to meet my best friend.’
The best friend was then Secretary of State James Baker.
Bush, Morris recalls, said, “‘the three of us need to go fishing together.’ I'll never forget the visual of the president skipping into the room.”
“When I talk about him to friends that thought always comes up because so much of the stuff you do is formal, you’re not having interacting with the actual president but this was after I played and he came into the room. It was really cool. It was a memory I’ll never forget.”
Morris’s last invitation to perform for the former first family was for an intimate gathering two years ago at the former president’s home in Houston.
“The funny thing about the time I spent with him, even when I went to his house, the first thing he says is ‘have you been doing any fishing lately or doing any huntin’. He knows I'm an outside guy.”
Morris performs a mix of his hits and Christmas music at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Waco Hippodrome.