|HARRY M. MILLER
Promoter and manager, 1950s - present
Harry Maurice Miller was born in Auckland, New Zealand in 1934. In the late 1950s, from a background in sales and marketing, he established himself as an artist manager and promoter. He promoted tours through New Zealand by international artists such as Louis Armstrong, Del Shannon and The Everly Brothers, and managed the popular New Zealand vocal group The Howard Morrison Quartet.
In 1963 he moved to Australia moved to Australia from New Zealand 100 pounds, establishing the firm Pan Pacific Productions Pty Ltd in partnership with Sydney restauranteurs Keith and Dennis Wong, owners of Chequers nightclub. Around 1965, after some early successes, Miller began encoutering resistance from within the show business establishment, particularly from the J.C. Williamson organisation, which owned and operated mostof the major theatrical venues in Australia. His major competitor, the Melbourne-based Aztec Promotions, headed by Kenn Brodziak, then signed a lucrative deal with Stadiums Ltd, the owner of most of the larger venues such as the Sydney Stadium and Melbourne Festival Hall. To counter this, Miller secured the lease on the Manufacturers' Pavilion at the RAS Showgrounds in Sydney and spent $40,000 refurbishing the venue, where he staged the hugely successful first tour by The Rolling Stones in 1965.
Throughout the Sixties Miller promoted a large proportion of pop and other concert and theatre tours of Australia and New Zealand. The list of tours that Pan Pacific brought to Australasia between 1964 and 1967give some idea of how important Miller became as a promoter in this era. In 1964 alone Pan Pacific promoted:
Concurrent with his promotional business, Miller became a leading personal manager. One of his first clients in Australia was the pioneering celebrity chef Graham Kerr (aka "The Galloping Gourmet") and over the years he managed some of Australia's best known personalities including Barry Humphries, Graham Kennedy, Maggie Tabberer, Stuart Wagstaff, Carmen Duncan, Charmain Solomon, producer-director Ron Way, Zara Holt (later Dam Zara Bates) and fitness 'guru' Sue Becker.
In early 1967 he bought out the Wong brothers' share in Pan Pacific and renamed the company Harry M. Miller attractions. He then formed a partnership with the other major pop promoter of the period, Kenn Brodziak, head of Aztec Services, and with the major venue owner Stadiums Ltd. Miller-Aztec-Stadiums promoted tours by Eric Burdon and The Animals, The Monkee and the controversial 'Big Show' tour of January 1968 featuring The Who, to isolated local audiences hungry to be part of the international music scene.
In 1969, Miller introduced a new phenomenon to Australia, the rock opera, changing the face of live theatrical shows for all time. The first of these was Hair, the hugely successful production that launched the careers of Marcia Hines, Reg Livermore and John Waters. This was followed by Boys in the Band, Grease and David Williamson’s The Removalists, which Miller produced in Sydney, and then London - establishing the playwright’s international reputation. In 1972, Miller produced the extremely successful productions of Jesus Christ Superstar followed by The Rocky Horror Show in 1974. Superstar cemented Miller’s ability to find and nurture extraordinary creative talent, to create opportunities for young people in the field of entertainment. Superstar, the milestone rock opera launched the careers of Director, Jim Sharman, and Designer, Brian Thomson, the team which went on to mount the record-breaking West End version of the show.
In addition to producing, Harry M Miller has made a long-standing contribution to both the arts and promotion of Australia internationally. From 1967 to 1970 Miller served as Marketing and Promotions Consultant to the Australian Opera, the Australian Ballet and the Melbourne Theatre Company pioneering Australia’s first subscription schemes under which all Australian flagship companies now operate.
The early ‘70s also saw Harry M Miller write a weekly column for THE AUSTRALIAN, which covered everything including Politics, Business and Entertainment. From 1975 to 1976 he served on the Advisory Committee for the American Bi-Centennial Celebrations. 1977 saw Miller head the celebrations for the Queen’s Silver Jubilee in Australia, and was appointed Ambassador to promote the Australian Bi-Centennial and Australian Expo in France, which subsequently secured Australia’s Expo ’88 in Queensland. He was Chairman of the Art Gallery Society of New South Wales from 1972 to 1977 and in 1974 joined the Board of the National Institute of Dramatic Art. From 1977 to 1981 he was a Director of Qantas Airways Ltd.
From 1981, Harry M Miller took a break from theatrical interests. With his former wife, Wendy Miller, he established the Dunmore Stud at Manilla in New South Wales from 1972 and introduced the Simmental breed to Australia. Miller’s involvement in this industry also saw him nominated by the Federal Government as an appointee to the Australian Meat and Livestock Corporation as well as the NSW Oil Seeds Marketing Board ... This was followed with Miller being awarded in 1977 the Knight’s Cross Order of Merit from the Federal Republic of Germany for services to agriculture and the promotion of German drama in Australia. Miller’s involvement in this industry also saw him nominated by the Federal Government as an appointee to the Australian Meat and Livestock Corporation as well as the NSW Oil Seeds Marketing Board. Dunmore became the largest and one of the finest Simmental herds in the world until it was dispersed in 1989.
Miller is much more than just the best marketer in the business – he has an eye for talent, and continues to personally manage the careers of the country’s top media, sporting and entertainment figures. In 1992, Harry M Miller returned to the theatre proving once again his ability to anticipate public taste with the first arena version of a stage musical, Jesus Christ Superstar. Under the inspired direction of Richard Wherrett and featuring John Farnham, Kate Ceberano and Jon Stevens, this production was seen by 1 million people, grossed $40 million in just 16 weeks, and established a new form of mass entertainment in Australia. Miller produced the New York smash hit play M Butterfly in 1994, and in 1997 produced the off-Broadway musical, Pageant, to high acclaim.
***** He consolidated his reputation in the early 1970s by promoting the hugely successful musicals "Hair" and "Jesus Christ Superstar". Later in the 1970s he was appointed a Director of Qantas and organiser of the Queen's Silver Jubilee celebrations in Australia. In 1978 he established the firm Computicket which went into receivership within six months. In 1982 Miller was convicted on five charges of fraudulent misappropriation in connection with Computicket, and spent ten months in Long Bay and Cessnock jails.