Music Journalist Darryl Morden Dies at 52

Darryl Morden Obit Image 2011
Barbara Morden

The respected scribe wrote concert reviews for The Hollywood Reporter for nearly 20 years.

Darryl Morden, a respected music journalist whose 30-year career included writing concert reviews for The Hollywood Reporter for nearly two decades, died Feb. 25 of cancer at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. He was 52.

In addition to covering hundreds of concerts for THR, Morden contributed articles or reviews to such publications and websites as Music Connection, Cashbox, Grammy Magazine, AOL, CD Now, Bam, Down Beat and Seventeen. Since 2005, he had been senior editor and senior staff writer for the Buzzine magazine and website. A devoted fan of superheroes and science fiction, he penned articles about comics and graphics, home video, books, novels and, of course, music.

He also was a producer for Movie Tunes from 2005-09 and penned bios, stories and marketing materials for companies including Sony-BMG, Rogers & Cowan, Univision, Premiere Radio Networks, Westwood One, Launch Radio Networks, Curb Records, and CultureBlog.

Born in Hollywood, Morden graduated from Cal State Northridge and began his career in 1981, working for ABC-Watermark on American Top 40, the most successful program in radio history. He was a writer for the show hosted by Casey Kasem — including its syndicated TV spinoff America’s Top 10 — penning and editing scripts, conducting artist interviews and working PR for the show. By 1988, he was associate producer for AT40, then hosted by Shadoe Stevens, and was head writer and associated producer of special programming projects for ABC Radio Networks.

"He was the one who finally found the tone for the show," Stevens said. "Before Morden became a writer, it would take 18 hours to record a four-hour show. He was brilliant -- really witty, funny and clever; really selfless and charismatic. Truly one of the greatest people I've ever met."

Stevens recalled one of Morden's favorite lines: "Life is your oyster. If you can't find your pearl, you can always have lunch."

Morden began covering concerts for THR in 1992, reviewing rock, pop, R&B and country acts ranging from Bruce Springsteen and Radiohead to the Blind Boys of Alabama and Chuck E. Weiss to such pop divas as Britney Spears, Beyonce and Lady Gaga. He also covered several Coachella festivals.

In November 2001, he was so moved by U2’s performance at Staples Center in Los Angeles — which included an unforgettable tribute to the victims of 9/11 — that he wrote an unsolicited pro bono review. It was an affecting piece of writing and a rare case of THR printing a review of an act twice during the same tour.

His last review for THR was Carrie Underwood at the Hollywood Bowl in October.

Morden is survived by his wife, Barbara, and son Declan.

In lieu of flowers, donations of any kind to help offset medical expenses can be sent to: Morden Medical Fund, 4733 Radford Ave. No. 4, Valley Village, CA 91607