R.I.P. “Iron” Alfred Morris III, 1957-2018

iron man (photo by JJ Koczan)

Devastating news out of a Maryland doom community already reeling this afternoon. The passing of Iron Man founder, songwriter and guitarist “Iron” Alfred Morris III has been confirmed by the band:

It is with profound and immeasurable sadness that we let you know that Alfred Morris III passed away this morning. There are no other words at this time.

Morris, who would have turned 61 on March 9, had been dealing with declining health effects from an ongoing battle with diabetes over the last several years, and reportedly had an extended hospital stay in 2017 following the amputation of his left leg. While it is unknown as of this writing if this directly contributed to his death, Morris’ issues had been a major contributing factor to a stretch of inactivity on the part of the band following the release of their last full-length, South of the Earth (review here), in 2013.

Issued by respected UK purveyor Rise Above Records, that album represented a pinnacle for the long-running and influential Maryland doom outfit. With Morris’ riffs and solos ever at the center of their approach, Iron Man — founded as a Black Sabbath tribute band following Morris’ time in proto-doomers Force — issued their first demo 30 years ago in 1988 and would follow it in the subsequent years with four LPs prior to their final one: 1993’s Black Night (discussed herereissue review here), 1994’s The Passage (discussed here; reissue review here), 1999’s Generation Void (reissue review here) and 2009’s comeback outing, I Have Returned (review here), as well as a slew of EPs and other limited offerings along the way.

In addition to bringing Iron Man to a new level of prestige in terms of its release, South of the Earth also gave the band their first opportunity to play internationally, at Rise Above’s 25th anniversary celebration in London in December 2013. The band continued to make regular appearances thereafter at Maryland Doom Fest and other regional events, but would never embark on wider touring in support of the album, and word of a follow-up through Rise Above or any other label never materialized.

What the loss of a figure of Morris’ status means to the Maryland doom community can hardly be overstated. One of the longest and most loyal practitioners of the Chesapeake region’s particular brand of downtrodden riffing, in his tone and construction, Morris has served for decades as a blueprint for others to follow. To watch his smooth-grooving presence on stage and bask in the warmth of his guitar tone was to know a singular joy of traditional doom in its finest Sabbathian spirit.

On behalf of myself and this site, I wish condolences to the family, friends, current and former bandmates and fans of Alfred Morris III. He brought something special to Maryland doom that, to put it simply, will never be replaced and will be deeply missed.

“Iron” Al Morris. 1957-2018. The Riff.

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6 Responses to “R.I.P. “Iron” Alfred Morris III, 1957-2018”

  1. Pete Holmes says:

    Rest In Power, Mighty Al Morris III…true doom warrior. You nor your music will ever be forgotten.

  2. Jay says:

    Jeez, this is hitting me hard and really heavy today. I knew he was struggling with health. Had the pleasure to see Iron Man a few times in a few different configurations. Al always brought it on stage and on album and the couple of conversations I got to share with him were always a pleasure. Like Pete said above, his music and spirit will never be forgotten. R.I.P. Al, thanks for your gift of the riff.

  3. Kimmi says:

    The doom world has lost an amazing soul today. I never had the pleasure of meeting Al but from our correspondence I knew him to be a good man with a deep love for his family and a passion for his music. He will be sorely missed.

  4. SabbathJeff says:

    RIP Alfred. Thank you for sharing your riffs with this world.

  5. Jose Humberto says:

    I was expecting a follow up to “south of the earth” , so sad :(

    Rest in Peace American Tony Iommi

  6. Gideon says:

    Rest in peace Mighty Iron Al, one of the greats.

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