The Music industry and millions of fans worldwide are mourning the loss of legendary DJ Producer Erick Morillo known for his many hit dance songs. The most notable of his career was the ’90s mega-hit song, “I Like to Move It,” which was an international chart-topper and, in recent years, became the theme song to the animated Madagascar movies.
News worldwide reported the story as it broke yesterday, including USA TODAY, upon receiving confirmation of Morillo’s death from Miami Beach Police spokesperson Ernesto Rodriguez.
Reportedly Morillo was found dead at his home in Miami Beach. Police responded to a 911 call on Tuesday morning, and Morillo’s body was found on the scene. According to Rodriguez, no foul play is suspected, but any determination is pending further investigation by the Miami Dade Medical Examiner’s Office.
Nearly a month ago, there were reports of a legal issue between Morillo and a female DJ in Miami. The alleged incident was of a sexual nature and resulted in Murillo’s arrest for which he posted a $25,000 bond. The hearing for the case was scheduled for this Friday.
None of us will ever know the outcome of that case now, and Murillo professed no wrongdoing in the matter, and I choose not to speculate.
Instead, I prefer to join countless music industry colleagues in sharing a personal memory of Erick Morillo. Mine is one that was so impactful though it did not happen in person. In fact, I never met Erick.
My first time ever hearing his name was the early 90s. This is back when every release by Strictly Rythym Records was pure club music magic, and I like to Move it was one of those releases.
I was 23 years old and took my first trip ever by airplane; destination Puerto Rico! In those days, the hottest club in San Juan was called Eros, and it was packed nearly every night. One Saturday night, while there, my friends and I heard I like to Move it for the first time. OMG, it was anthemic; it was undeniably Latin, but somehow Reggae too, with a sick rasta chant. It sounded electronic with hints of techno, but it also sounded like House. There had never been a song like that in dance music, and it felt like electric energy was coming through those speakers. Incredible.
When it came on, the dance floor instantly became a sea of bodies, jumping up and down with pure joy and freedom like we, in our young adult lives had ever felt before. You could almost feel the club itself bounce to the beat of the song’s relentless driving melody. Later that night, meeting Eros’ DJ, we asked him what the hell was that amazing song and who is it? He held up the vinyl record and replied, “It’s New – Reel 2 Real by The Mad Stuntman.” Eric Murillo was the mastermind behind the project, composing and writing it with music partner Mark Quashie.
Of course, Eric went to become a major success in music, transcending dance music to new markets like Hollywood films, making more hits, establishing the mega Pacha label, nightlife brand, and headlining global DJ tours.
However, in 2008, he did his first-ever DJ Gig in Poland, at the massive Stadium of Sound festival. By this time, I became an established vocalist in House Music and was the featured artist on a remake of the classic Move Your Body, sung originally by Marshall Jefferson.
Still a newbie, this song put me on the radar of many DJ’s who had not yet heard of me as it charted in international dance charts.
One day, a DJ I know in Europe messaged me very excited. He had just discovered on Youtube that Eric Murillo opened up his debut set at the Stadium of Sound festival with “Move Your Body” by Corey Andrew. I was floored. The opening song for a rock star DJ like Morillo is a prestigious placement for an artist. In this case, it was me.
Erick Morillo made his DJ debut in Poland, at the Stadium of Sound Arena Event in 2008, and opened up his set with, “Move Your Body” by Corey Andrew. The track comes in around the 7 minute mark.
It was an honor. I had NEVER heard my voice, singing, played in a stadium arena with people cheering! It blew my mind, and Erick, of course, had no idea how much of a moment of affirmation that was for me.
He and I briefly exchanged emails about a future collaboration, but alas, it will not happen now. Still, I am so thankful for the legacy of music he leaves behind, like this one, among my favorites of Morillo hits, featuring his incomparable vocal muse and songwriter Shawnee Taylor:
I send out this heartfelt thank you and farewell to you, Erick Morillo. You were a living legend, and your talent and presence will be missed.
Read more about this story at USA Today
This piece is an opinion piece by one Contributing Writer for Instinct Magazine and may not reflect the opinion of the magazine or other Contributing Writers