“There was always something interesting going on at Molly’s place and it broadened my mind, opened me up to possibilities.
“There was a time that Dad apologised to me, said he knew I’d had it pretty tough growing up because he was gay. But I told him I’d never seen it as an issue. It was just normal for me, not strange or unique at all. I never thought it was a big deal.”
Morgan was just a toddler when his single mum, Jan Pickett, started struggling to cope. Big-hearted Molly – who was only a child when his own mother was hospitalised for mental illness – stepped in to help.
From then on, he became the little boy’s de facto father.
During the school term, Morgan would live with his mum in Queensland, but during holidays he’d be with Molly in his fabulous Egyptian-themed Melbourne villa.
“It was an informal arrangement, but you can imagine how much it meant,” says Morgan. “Mum battled depression and significant demons, and was going
through a difficult period.
“She just didn’t know how she was going to take care of me, all that kind of mess. So it was great for her to have a friend like Molly, who offered to take care of my education.
“I don’t know how or when I started calling him Dad. It just happened naturally.”
Today, Morgan, 36, lives and works in Vietnam with wife Crystal, 32, and their 8-year-old son Jason, who calls his grandfather ‘Guru’ in a cheeky reference to Molly’s ‘music guru’ nickname.
Like so many families kept apart by COVID, they’re longing for the day they can see Molly, 79, in person. Until then, they’re doing their best to stay in touch.
“Lockdown was difficult for Dad because he’s such an extroverted person. He likes to say he’s introverted, but he really loves having people around him,” Morgan says of the amateur Egyptologist and St Kilda AFL tragic.
“For 50 years it’s been open house at his place – everyone from huge stars to business tycoons and the guy who fixed the toilet last week. Dad thrives on that and COVID stripped it from him.
“But it’s also given him time to reflect on things a bit, reassess his health. He’s off the grog, he’s made changes to have a more balanced diet. Like the rest of us, he’s just getting older and it doesn’t matter what position you are in, you can’t stop old father time.
“Dad’s life has been a whirlwind of amazing achievement, parties, travel, constant movement. When you hung out at his place, you’d go and visit multimillionaires for Christmas, meet up with all different musicians, get taken around the world. He’s always been an active person, but he can’t do as much as he used to.”
WATCH BELOW: Molly Meldrum makes a comeback after his stay in hospital. Story continues after the video.
Molly defied medical opinion to recover from a three-metre fall from a ladder that nearly killed him just before Christmas 2011. But the accident has slowed Molly down and these days the former party animal is more likely to be reading than raising hell.
“Dad’s not that nimble anymore,” Morgan says, forever grateful to the friends who have helped his father during the pandemic. “It’s tough not being able to be there with him and for him ... but we’re not unique, there are lots of similar stories.”
Hopefully sometime soon there will be a grand family reunion in Melbourne, where Morgan has a very special gift for his dad.
“I work as a development manager for a clothing and accessories manufacturer. I didn’t know this until after the fact – it’s the same company that makes hats for Dad.
“Recently we made some for his dog, Ziggy, as well. Hilarious – I couldn’t believe it, but that’s very Molly!”
Read more in this week's New Idea, on sale now.