Photograph, publicity, The Platters, autographed, paper / chipboard, photographer unknown, United States of America, used by Max Moore, Australia, 1956
This is one of a group of mounted photographs collected by Sydney-based tour manager Max Moore. It is relevant to the history of concert tours of Australia by overseas artists in the 1950s, and helps illustrate the remarkable career of promoter Lee Gordon. From 1954 to 1962, American-born Gordon brought the world's biggest musical stars to Australia's entertainment-starved masses. The photo was mounted on to chipboard for display in Moore's office.
Max Moore (23 January 1923- 26 December 2011) was one of Australia's most experienced tour managers. In a career spanning five decades, he organised tours for three high profile concert promoters: Lee Gordon, Harry M Miller and Kevin Jacobsen.
Moore joined the Lee Gordon organisation in January 1955 as a 'dogsbody' (Max Moore, 'Some Days are Diamonds' New Holland, 2003, p32). Within six months he was elevated to the position of tour manager for musical entertainers visiting from overseas, a role he pioneered in Australia. His responsibilities included arranging transport and accommodation, logistics, promotions, marketing, ticketing, box office management and banking. Gordon operated on a large scale and was concerned with 'the big picture', while Max Moore, along with Alan Heffernan, saw to the details.
Bill Haley and His Comets were the main attraction of Lee Gordon's first rock 'n' roll tour. The American vocal quintet The Platters were a support act. The tour started in Manila, the Philippines, on a revolving stage. There was an excessive number of artists on the bill, 22 entertainers, and all had to be flown out and accommodated. Lee made no profit on the Australian tour. But it was highly significant in igniting a cultural explosion in Australia and proving that rock 'n' roll could attract a whole new and younger audience of Australian concert-goers.
However even before the explosion of rock 'n' roll in Australia, Max Moore managed tours for Gordon by some of the greatest names in American show business. These included Nat King Cole, Johnnie Ray and Harry Belafonte. The tour by Bill Haley and His Comets in January 1957 was the first of many rock 'n' roll tours promoted by Lee Gordon. Moore managed visits by some of the greatest American stars of 1950s rock 'n' roll: Little Richard, Buddy Holly, the Everly Brothers and Jerry Lee Lewis and many others. Along with American film and television, the consumption of rock 'n' roll was part of a post-World War II cultural shift in Australia from British to US influences. Lee Gordon's concert tours helped to create the Australian rock 'n' roll industry, by bringing local support acts to the attention of large stadium audiences.
With Alan Heffernan, Moore ran Lee Gordon Records, an independent record company that created the Leedon label. Lee Gordon went into a swift decline in the early 1960s, leading to his death. As a result, Max accepted an offer to join Col Joye Enterprises in 1962, working for Joye and his brother/manager Kevin Jacobsen, who was to become one of Australia's most successful entrepreneurs. He also worked for Harry M. Miller's Pan Pacific Promotions from 1964 to 1967, before returning to work with Jacobsen until 1995.
Seeking no publicity for himself and remaining busy in the background, Moore was reliable, enterprising, professional and greatly admired as a gentleman in the cutthroat world of show business. He looked after the entertainers' needs on tour and many expressed their gratitude by signing publicity photos of themselves with a dedication to Max Moore. He often earned their friendship as a result. He became a close friend of John Denver and was devastated at the singer's death in a plane crash.
Moore's 2003 autobiography 'Some Days are Diamonds' is a valuable record of the Lee Gordon years and an insider's account of the daily operations of the Harry M. Miller and Kevin Jacobsen organisations: the triumphs and the flops, the gimmicks and the schemes, the pranks and the tantrums. It paints a vivid picture of the old Sydney Stadium, the first wave of Australian rock 'n' roll culture, the 1960s British beat boom, touring entertainers in regional Australia and large arena tours of the by the likes of ELO, Kiss and Springsteen.
Max Moore retired in 1995 after forty years in the business. He died on in 2011 at Bundanoon, New South Wales, aged 89.
This photograph is one of a series collected by Max Moore, as a reminder of the entertainers with whom he worked during his long career as a show business tour manager based in Sydney. Artists' managers or agents sent photos of their entertainers to the Australian promoters, to be used for publicity purposes in concert programs, newspapers and magazine articles. From his earliest days with promoter Lee Gordon, Moore would often ask the artists to sign the photos, and many autographs include a warm dedication to him. From 1956 this photo was kept by Moore at Lee Gordon's office in the Weaver Building at 151 Bayswater Road, Rushcutters Bay. Lee Gordon died in 1963. His company Big Show Pty Ltd was wound up and Max Moore took possession of the photograph.
When he left the Lee Gordon organisation, Moore continued the practice of having touring artists sign publicity photos which he then had mounted on chipboard. For many years the photographs were proudly displayed in his office, as pictured on the cover of his 2003 autobiography 'Some Days are Diamonds'.