‘The Lady Who Shot Lee Morgan’ author visiting Regulator

Feb. 15, 2014 @ 11:11 AM

Lee Morgan (1938-1972) is remembered as the trumpet player who created the sound and legacy of Blue Note records. Under his name, Morgan recorded classics like "The Sidewinder," "Infinity," "Cornbread" and "The Search for the New Land." Morgan also played on John Coltrane's "Blue Train" recording.
His life came to an abrupt end in February 1972, when his common-law wife Helen More (sometimes spelled Moore, and also known as Helen Morgan) walked into the New York club Slugs, where Morgan was playing, and shot him to death. Larry Thomas, a local writer who also does the Sunday night jazz program at WCOM FM in Carrboro, has written a book about Helen Morgan, “The Lady Who Shot Lee Morgan” (KHA Books).
Thomas, a Wilmington native, met Morgan in 1990 while teaching a class at Shaw University’s satellite campus there. Morgan was one of his students, and he asked her for an interview, which she granted him in 1996, just weeks before she died.
Fans of this music will want to read Thomas’ book because it offers a brief portrait of some of the people who “take care” of musicians. When she met Lee Morgan in the 1960s, she went with him to a pawn shop to get his coat and his horn out of hock. She refused to give him the money, fearing he might spend it on drugs. From then until his death, she was his manager and helpmate. Her constant stewardship got Morgan off drugs, and revived his career. 
At the time, Morgan called herself a “‘hip square,’” who dressed well and looked sharp, and offered the musicians a place to come hang after the clubs and venues closed. She did time for killing Morgan, but returned to Wilmington in 1978 to take care of her ailing mother, and became active in the church (where no one knew of her crime).
Kasper Collin, a Swedish filmmaker (who did the documentary “My Name is Albert Ayler”) contacted Thomas about the book and is making a documentary in part based on his research, due out later this year. 
Thomas will discuss and sign copies of his book at 7 p.m. March 7 at The Regulator Bookshop, 720 Ninth St., Durham.
In other books events:
Alice Hoffman’s new novel “The Museum of Extraordinary Things” (Scribner), is the story of Coralie Sardie, who tells of her father’s museum in Coney Island in the early 20th century. Hoffman will read and sign copies of the book at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at McIntyre’s Books in Fearrington Village in Pittsboro.  
Send notices of readings and events to cbellamy@heraldsun.com.