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People of Ibiza: Russ Morgan

People of Ibiza is a new Winter Series where we talk with some of the personalities that help make Ibiza what it is.


Everyone has a story to tell about Ibiza. Some are just "I kept coming for the clubbing and eventually fell in love with the island." Russ Morgan, in every way, stands out from the crowd.

Russ is perhaps one of the most photographed people of Ibiza. Thousands upon thousands of tourists flock to Benirras beach in the north of the island on a Sunday afternoon to listen to the gathering of 'drums' that play as the sun sets far out across the sea. It is a magical time, one that many return to year upon year, awaiting the cheer of a thousand voices that ricochets off the hills as the sun finally disappears into the sea.

Amongst those hippies, sits Russ with his drum, often with students around him who have learnt the magic of the rhythm and harmony from his teachings. Glancing at him, many would be mistaken for thinking Russ had lived this life for decades. Tanned, weathered, with dreds tied back, he looks completely at home and his image must now grace thousands of Facebook "Ibiza Holiday" albums.

The story behind this familiar figure however is far from typical.

People of Ibiza: Russ Morgan Sunset at Benirras

Born in Hong Kong to British parents, Russ grew up in countries such as Sri Lanka and Cape Town, South Africa. He admits he didn't know where home was as a child. Indeed he wondered if he was British and what was 'British' anyway?

At the tender age of fourteen Russ joined the British Army, serving as a PTI (Physical Training Instructor) Under the initial careful guidance of Clive Williams, "a big bear of a man. Wise, not clever but very wise", whom Russ credits with having the most profound effect on his life, Russ went on to serve for an exemplary 35 years achieving both rank and status most would be proud of.

His life reflected his efforts - the detached house, the Armani suits, the Harley Davidson bike and Porsche in the driveway.

Then there was a cataclysmic change. In part, Russ' life spun on a coin when his friend was murdered. Perhaps the signs of change were already in the wind but now a gale blew. Russ walked away from the life he had built.

He learnt to sail and the only place he could sail to was Ibiza. As he sailed, Ibiza came into sight, the first thing he saw was the sun rising above Es Vedra. "It looked like a volcano erupting". It was love at first sight. For two years Russ sailed from Cala to Cala, marveling at the Jurassic looking coastline, so different from the concrete coast of mainland Spain.

People of Ibiza: Russ Morgan. Profile of a hippie

Finally, he decided to explore terra firma and selling his boat, he bought a camper-van. Here, as I interviewed Russ, his natural mirth surfaced as he recounted tales of his exploits camping in the woods. He painted his white van with Ibiza-style camouflage so no-one would find him in the woods but as he observes, no-one ever does anyway. His white van, now a startling landscape collage, stood out on the main roads like a sore thumb, becoming one of the most recognizable vehicles on Ibiza. Friends worried, "But what about a bathroom?" and Russ laughed, answering with "Fish swim in my bath!"
"You don't have a garden!", here Russ looks to the pine covered hills and grin, throwing his arms wide, encompassing it all.

I wanted to know how he came to sit on the beach at Benirras every Sunday and again, a spark fires. He admits learning to play the drums had been a lifetime wish and on Ibiza he was given the opportunity by the drummers of Benirras. His skills as both a drummer and now guide, assisting others in learning the drums is almost legendary in the north of Ibiza. He was, he admits, playing to catch up with fifty years of a dream.

One would be mistaken to think this is the end of the story. That now Russ sits at Benirras and plays the drums and shares his skills with others and that is his life.

Ibiza gifted Russ with something else, an opportunity if you will. A safe haven for exploring a spiritual awakening. I asked Russ what Ibiza was to him and he responded that it had the potential to be Heaven on Earth, that anyone walking a path towards Awakening on Ibiza isn't alone.

People of Ibiza: Russ Morgan Harmony is the Key Tattoo

He shared an analogy of this life being like one track on a CD, be it a love story or a disaster, but lived by so many without awareness of any of the other tracks. He is actively trying to become more aware of the other tracks.

"As civilization developed, we moved away from the vibrational energy of nature. We should be able to speak to the animals or plants but we've lost it. We can't even speak to each other properly. Genetically, we all come from the same mould. Harmony is the key and frequency is the key to harmony"

He raises his sleeve to show a faded tattoo, "Without understanding the significance of it, when I was about 20 I had this tattooed on my arm"
The tattoo reads "Harmony is the key"

He's open and emphatic that the process he is going through is his process but simultaneously, is open to sharing it with others. He admits he is not yet the change he wants to see in the World but over the last ten years that Ibiza and Spain have been his home, he has endeavored each day to become more so.
"I'm still in kindergarten" he laughs at himself quietly but one senses the drive and determination beneath.

I ask him what moves him? "Being better than I was yesterday. Unfortunately, not every day but by and large over ten years, it holds good." he pauses, laughs, "Oh and playing drums and teaching."

People of Ibiza: Russ Morgan Benirras Beach

We take some photographs at Benirras beach. Despite being photographed thousands of times by tourists, Russ becomes charmingly shy when it is just the two of us. Finally, another drummer arrives. The sun has already set behind the hills, the beach almost empty for it is neither Summer or Sunday. I watch as the two of them walk away, across the sands, to sit where they always sit and beat the drums as day becomes night.

For more information about Benirras beach and how to get there, check out Benirras.
If you'd like to contact Russ, please check out Rusga Drums (Facebook)

Photography by Cat Milton

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