Concert promotion company, 1963-67

Harry M. Miller
Keith Wong
Dennis Wong


Pan-Pacific Promotions, formed in August 1963, was a partnership between New Zealand-born impresario Harry M. Miller and Sydney restauranteurs and promoters Keith and Dennis Wong.

The Wongs operated several Sydney businesses including the prestige Sydney nighclub Chequers, which provided high quality cabaret-style entertainment (although without the lucrative poker machine income that subsidised the entertainment in cities like Las Vegas). Miller was introduced to the Wongs in 1963 by Sol Shapiro, an agent with the Wiliam Morris agency in New York with whom he had dealt when organising earlier concert promotions.

The partnership was mutually beneficial -- the Wongs were able to use Miller's promotional expertise and his established concert organisation to tour their high-priced cabaret acts (thus reducing the direct costs of the Chaequers engagements) and the Wongs and Chequers provided a solid base and a waelth of connections which enabled Miller to establish himself in Australia after his move from New Zealand.

Pac-Pacific's promotiion was American comedian Shelley Berman, followed by a string of high-profile cabaret and pop-rock acts including:

  • Sammy Davis Jr
  • Eartha Kitt
  • Judy Garland (1964)
  • Artur Rubenstein (1964)
  • Louis Armstrong & Trini Lopez
  • The Merseybeat Sound (April 1964)
  • Starlift '64
  • Surfside '64 (Jan. 1964)
  • The Rolling Stones (1965)
  • The Folk Festival 1966
  • Tom Jones / Hermans Hermits (1966)
  • Pan-Pacific's cheif competitor was Aztec Services, the Melbourne-based company headed by impresario Kenn Brodziak, the man who brought The Beatles to Australia in 1964. According to Miller, Pan-Pacific's early successes caused resentment among the established promoters and venue owners, and he soon found it difficult to obtain bookings with the J.C. Williamson organisation, which controlled most of the major theatrical venues in Australia. Miller soon heard on the grapevine that he was considered persona non grata by the Williamson management.

    Then, to Miller's chagrin, Aztec formed a lucrative partnership with Stadiums Ltd, who owned some of the largest venues around the country at that time, including the Sydney Stadium (demolished in 1970) and Melbourne Festival Hall. Stadium Ltd's venues could hold 10,000 people or more, making them ideal for the large scale pop shows which were now becoming more common, and more costly. The Aztec partnership deal gave Stadiums a larger share of the take as co-promoter and gave Aztec a virtual monopoly on the best dates, especially those around Easter and the New Year.

    Now in urgent need of a large venue in Sydney to stage the Rolling Stones concerts, Miller sought out alternative large venues. He investigated the outdoor White City tennis stadium, but rejected this because of adverse long-range weather forecasts. He finally found his ideal venue in the Manufacturers' Pavilion at the RAS Showgrounds. It was a large building, capable of seating 7500 people, and it had considerably better acoustics than the old brick-and-tin Sydney Stadium. Pan-Pacific spent $40,000 converting it into a concert venue, building a dressing room block, installing miles of wiring for the lighting and sound systems and cutting a stairway through the concrete floor to the storage area beneath the hall, to allow the artists ease of access to the underground car park.

    In retaliation, Aztec-Stadiums announced a rival tour by Manfred Mann, The Kinks, The Honeycombs and Tony Sheveton, scheduled to begin just one week before the Stones -- indeed, the two tours played in different venues on the same night in Brisbane. Despite the organisational problems, the Stones tour was a great success, and Miller counts it as his favourite among the many tours he promoted between 1960 and 1974.

    Miller's partnership with the Wong brothers continued until early 1967, when he bought out their share of the business and Pan-Pacific Promotions became Harry M. Miller Attractions Pty Ltd. By this time the first rush of the Beat Boom had died down and the tour business was experiencing a slump. This brought about the end of the rivalry between Pan-Pacific and Aztec-Stadiums and the three companies formed a shortlived three-way partnership, Miller-Stadiums-Aztec. Their first promotion, Eric Burdon & The Animals, was a great success, but they lost heavily on two subsequent tours -- the infamous "Fortnight of Furore" tour by The Who, The Small Faces and Paul Jones in January 1968 and The Monkees tour in September-October 1968.

    Largely as a result of the difficulties of the 1968 tours, Miller gave up concert promotion for several years, and from 1969 onwards he concentrated on the theatrical productions that made him a household name in Australia: Hair, Jesus Christ Superstar and The Rocky Horror Show. He promoted ony two more rock tours, both in the early Seventies -- the controversial Joe Cocker tour of 1972 and a tour by David Cassidy in 1974.

    Harry M. Miller
    My Story
    (Macmilan, 1983)