Photo: Tiana Feng
This past May, just months after reuniting for Wavelength's anniversary festival, Controller.Controller bassist Ronnie Morris suffered two consecutive strokes that left him briefly on life support. His story became something of a political lightning rod as the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) would only cover a small part of his rehab costs due to funding restrictions between the ages of 20 and 64 (Morris is 37), and as a PhD student/part time teacher at York University he didn't have health insurance.
Morris's family and his friends in the Canadian music community put together the Ronnie Morris Recovery Fund, which to date has raised over $45,000. However, as Morris continues to improve daily, his rehabilitation and medical costs are estimated at $200,000.
To help with those costs, a pair of benefit shows are planned in Toronto and Brampton (where Morris is currently recovering).
On October 8 at Lee's Palace, "Do It For Ronnie" will feature his former roommate, Dave Monks of Tokyo Police Club, a solo set from V ∆ N E S S ∆ of Lioness, The Flowers of Hell (he played in both bands), plus a collaborative teamup from members of METZ and Fresh Snow as "FrETZ." Members of Controller.Controller, Uncut and The Two Koreas will also team up for an "all-star jam."
Nirmala Basnayake of Controller.Controller said in a statement "Raising awareness about the risk of stroke to people in the underfunded 20-64 age bracket is important to all of us, and we are working to bring more attention to that issue, but the heart of this fundraiser is Ronnie. He's our brother and our friend and a talented musician who is missed in the Toronto scene. We love him and want him to return to making music. This fundraiser will help him get there."
This Saturday, September 8, there will be another benefit at the South Fletcher Sportplex in Brampton featuring Irish singer/comedian Hugo Straney and music by The Worts (featuring Colwyn Llewellyn-Thomas of Controller.Controller.
It's a very unfortunate situation, but it's heartwarming to see Toronto's music scene bound together to support Ronnie Morris, and hopefully bring attention to the issue of health funding for younger people in need.