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98/77/7 Concert program, 'Lee Gordon Presents the Big Show Rock 'n' Roll with Little Richard', paper, printed by Publicity Press Pty Ltd, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 1957. Click to enlarge.

Little Richard concert program

Printed
This concert program has significance as a record of Little Richard's Australian tour of October 1957. The tour was eventful because it was the first time Johnny O'Keefe performed at one of Lee Gordon's 'Big Shows' and because of Little Richard's dramatic decision to quit rock 'n' roll.

The tour featured Little Richard (with his band that included crack sax player Nat Douglas), along with three other American acts -- Gene Vincent and his band the Blue Caps, Eddie Cochran and Alis Lesley (dubbed 'the female Elvis').

The Blue Caps, who were also meant to provide backing for Eddie Cochran and Alis Lesley, were removed from the plane in Honolulu due to an error with the airline reservations. The promoter Lee Gordon urgently needed a replacement band and O'Keefe agreed to lend his group the Dee Jays, as long as he too could perform. The tour's first show, at Wollongong's Crown Theatre, was later described by O'Keefe as 'the most important Stadium show' he ever appeared in. O'Keefe won over the hostile audience and his subsequent performances on the tour made quite an impact.

Australia had never before seen anything like Little Richard. The most flamboyant star of the first wave of American rock 'n' roll, he made his entrance in Melbourne wearing a green jewelled turban, a canary yellow suit and a crimson cloak. In what the press described as a 'strip tease', he caused 'a near riot' by peeling off layers of clothes until he was left wearing only the turban and a pair of 'pyjama trousers'. The sight of what one newspaper called 'an American negro rock 'n' roll exponent' singing bare-chested to screaming Australian girls was a matter of concern for concert reviewers. Newspapers reported on the shows and the behaviour of audiences in a tone that suggested that parents should start to worry. O'Keefe learnt greatly from Little Richard's stagecraft, with one newspaper review referring to O'Keefe's 'pelvic prostrations' and 'simulated epileptic fit'.

The Soviet Union had just launched the Sputnik satellite and, as it passed over Australia, Little Richard underwent a powerful religious experience, an apocalyptic vision of his own damnation. During a domestic flight he became convinced that the aeroplane was on fire, panicked and began to pray. On October 11 1957, while crossing the Hunter River on the Stockton ferry on their way from Williamtown airport to a concert in Newcastle, he threw four diamond rings into the water as a gesture of his faith, witnessed by members of O'Keefe's band. Sensing that the end of the world was imminent, Little Richard cut his tour short, flew home to be baptised, took up bible studies in Alabama and was ordained a minister. For the next few years he performed only gospel music.

O'Keefe and his band became a regular support for international acts promoted by Lee Gordon. By the time of O'Keefe's last big Stadium show in August 1961, he had become so appreciated by the Sydney audience that they drowned out the headlining American singer Jimmie Rodgers with chants of 'We want Johnny'.

Summary

Object No.

98/77/7

Object Statement

Concert program, 'Lee Gordon Presents the Big Show Rock 'n' Roll with Little Richard', paper, printed by Publicity Press Pty Ltd, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 1957

Physical Description

Paper booklet, staple bound, 12 pages, single colour printed cover, monochrome printed text and photographs. Cover in red, which a black and white photograph of Little Richard (American rock 'n' roll star) appearing to burst through the cover, opposite a black and white image of 2 separate performers. Text in white with black shadow, 'Lee Gordon presents The Big Show, Rock 'n' roll with Little Richard, Gene Vincent, Eddie Cochran, Alis Lesley, 1st Australian tour 1957'. Frontispiece contains a black and white image of Little Richard. Contains articles about the performers and various advertisements. Within are various handwritten song titles and comments written at the top of separate pages. Punched holes in booklet for storage in a ring binder.

Marks

Printer on back cover at base, monochrome print 'Printed by Publicity Press (1938) Pty. Ltd., 71-75 Regent Street, Sydney.'
Song titles on page 3 at upper edge, handwritten text in blue biro 'Rip It Up - Ready Teddy - Tutti Frutti - Long Tall Sally', on page four above the story on Gene Vincent 'Lotta' Loving - Wear My Ring'.

Dimensions

Height

272 mm

Width

423 mm

Production

Notes

Concert program printed by Publicity Press Pty Ltd, 71-75 Regent Street, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, in 1957.

The Little Richard Australian tour took place in October 1957.

History

Notes

Purchased by the donor Maureen Goddard at the Little Richard performance she attended at Sydney Stadium on 4, 5 or 12 October 1957. Maureen collected concert programs and photographs as souvenirs of the performances she attended at the Stadium. She was involved in rock stars' fan clubs and this helped her to gain access to the stars to obtain their autographs. She was also a member of an organisation called Fan Club of Australia, a club for fans of rock 'n' roll in general, and appeared on ABC-TV's 'Six O'Clock Rock' to promote the organisation. She attended lunch hour shows hosted by the 2SM disc jockey Allan Lappin and it was there she met Fabian. She also attended Bob Rogers' regular Saturday morning 2UE broadcasts from a studio at Anthony Hordern's department store, where she met Crash Craddock and obtained his autograph.

Source

Credit Line

Gift of Maureen Goddard, 1998

Acquisition Date

26 May 1998

Cite this Object

Harvard

Little Richard concert program 2020, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 25 November 2020, <https://ma.as/164523>

Wikipedia

{{cite web |url=https://ma.as/164523 |title=Little Richard concert program |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=25 November 2020 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}