Harry M. Miller, Australian Impresario and Manager, Dies at 84
Harry M. Miller, a showbiz legend Down Under who twice toured the Rolling Stones in the 1960s, promoted shows by the Beach Boys, Ella Fitzgerald and Tom Jones and presented the successful stage productions of Jesus Christ Superstar and The Rocky Horror Show in Australia, has died at 84.
Miller passed away peacefully in Sydney on Wednesday (June 4), HMMG (formerly Harry M Miller Group), the agency he founded, said in a statement. “By his side were his long term partner Simmone Logue, daughters Justine, Brook and Lauren and their mother Wendy,” the statement reads.
Miller moved from New Zealand to Australia in 1963 to immerse himself in the fledgling entertainment industry. His career took flight in the late 1960s with the first in a string of rock opera productions, Hair, which launched the careers of ARIA Hall of Famer Marcia Hines, Reg Livermore and John Waters. Hair was followed by Boys in the Band, Grease and The Removalists and, in 1972, Miller had a huge hit on his hands with Jesus Christ Superstar. Two years later, The Rocky Horror Show was a blockbuster for Miller and his team.
The Miller show briefly stopped when he was sent to prison after Computicket, a ticketing company he launched in 1978, went into receivership within six months. In 1982, Miller spent 10 months in Long Bay and Cessnock Correctional Centres following his conviction on five charges of fraudulent misappropriation of A$728,000 in relation to the company.
The businessman staged a roaring comeback to concert and theatrical productions in 1992 with an arena version of Jesus Christ Superstar, organized with Garry Van Egmond. Starring John Farnham, Kate Ceberano, Jon Stevens and Angry Anderson, JCS was a box-office smash, grossing A$40 million in just 16 weeks and shifting one million tickets. Speaking to Billboard at the time, veteran manager Michael Browning paid tribute to Miller’s business acumen and great sense of timing. “He drums up excitement in true impresario fashion and makes everything seem bigger and better than anything else that’s around,” he said.
Miller also guided the careers of leading Australian media, sporting and entertainment figures including Deborah Hutton, Alan Jones, Maggie Tabberer and Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton.
After 50 years in the business, Miller retired at the end of 2009 and published his memoirs two years later, Harry M Miller: Confessions of a Not-So-Secret-Agent. He was diagnosed with dementia in 2011.
Tributes are flowing for the famed celebrity agent, manager and theatrical producer.
Harry M. Miller and I crossed the ditch from NZ, seeking fame and fortune, around the same time in 1963. A favourite line in later years: “If you shake hands with Harry, count your fingers”.— Derryn Hinch (@HumanHeadline) July 4, 2018
A titan of our industry Harry M Miller has passed away. My first production I saw of his was his Jesus Christ with Farnham. But he broke new ground with Rocky Horror and JCS in the 70s. Made stars out of Marcia, Jon English and so many more. RIP— David Campbell (@DavidCampbell73) July 4, 2018
Some of most wonderful experiences I have had in the theatre were thanks to Harry M Miller. The original Jesus Christ Superstar with Trevor White, Jon English and Marcia Hines and then round 2 with John Farnham, Jon Stevens and Kate Ceberano. RIP Harry. #HarryMMiller— Angela Bishop (@AngelaBishop) July 4, 2018
RIP #HarryMMiller. I first met him when I was cast as Judas in the NZ/AUS version of JCSuperstar in 1994. You’d shake his hands then count your fingers. He’d take one if you weren’t watching. A great teacher of life.— Jay Laga'aia (@JayLagaaia) July 5, 2018
RIP Harry M Miller, an entertainment industry larrikin. Always good for a story pic.twitter.com/l3t307vIVE— Countdown Music Aust (@CountdownAus) July 5, 2018
RIP Harry M Miller. He was a force in Australian entertainment. Harry brought Hair, Jesus Christ Superstar, and Rocky Horror Show to Australia, transforming much of the landscape. He was a friend to Sydney theatre. https://t.co/cZrDSnTHeY— David Berthold (@DavidBerthold) July 4, 2018
Vale Harry M.Miller. We are proud to hold your celebrated life stories in our collection. Image by Greg Barrett, 1993. NLA collection. pic.twitter.com/hQwYz506Uo— National Library Aus (@nlagovau) July 5, 2018