Jack Morris, also known as Jack Daniels, was born in Scottbluff, Nebraska, and his family moved to Rapid City when he was nine. He has four sisters, including a twin named Jill.
His music career began as a booking agent for Mid-Continent Entertainment in Lawrence, Kansas. One of his clients was WhiteWing, one of this year’s South Dakota Rock and Roll Music Association Hall of Fame inductees.
In 1977, Jack was offered a position doing overnights at KKLS Radio. Legendary program director and announcer John Derek hired Jack, who drove non-stop from Lawrence to Rapid City and went on the air at midnight. Jack stayed with radio for 30 years.
KOLL radio in Gillette, Wyoming, hired Morris in 1979 for its morning show. At the studio shack near the railroad track, Jack saw a mouse running on top of the record that was playing. A few minutes later, and while he was on the air, the mouse ran up his leg. He let out a scream rivaled only by a little girl. Jack wore rubber bands on the bottom of his jeans to avoid a repeat.
In 1981, Morris returned to Rapid City’s KTOQ, owned by Tom Kearns and Tom Brokaw. Jack nailed Brokaw with a spiked volleyball between the eyes at a company function, dropping him flat on his back. A subsequent letter said, “Tell Mr. Daniels that hitting the majority stockholder with a volleyball is not conducive to future advancement.”
In spring 1983, Jack moved to the all-new KSQY-FM in Deadwood. Ken Mills assigned him to partner with Tom Collins – who challenged Morris to elevate his professionalism, and he responded. Morris says Tom Collins is the best announcer he has ever heard.
KSQY reported its playlist to Radio and Records magazine. With his assistants Jeff Michaels and Jim Kallas, Morris became among the first to play Guns ’n Roses, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Collective Soul, INXS, Tesla, Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, Metallica, U2, Nirvana, Quiet Riot, Poison, Skid Row, Ratt, and more. They played as many as 60 new songs in a weekly rotation, rivaling any station with the amount of new rock music played.
In 1992, Duhamel Broadcasting hired Jack to start two new stations in Spearfish. After working as program director and morning announcer for 15 years, he began a career in radio sales, which he continues today. 2017 will be his 40th year in broadcasting.
Jack’s biggest concert disappointment occurred when a record company flew him to Minneapolis to see David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance” tour. He anticipated meeting Stevie Ray Vaughn, Bowie’s guitarist on the tour and album. Three days before the concert, Epic Records signed Vaughn, and he left the tour. When Jack went backstage to meet Vaughn’s replacement, he met Peter Frampton. To quote Jack, “Great guitar player, but not Stevie.”