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New Zealand celebrity agent and music producer Harry M Miller, dies aged 84

New Zealand born music promoter and celebrity agent Harry M Miller has died aged 84.

The "visionary" entrepreneur died peacefully in Sydney on Wednesday, HMMG, 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," it said.

Harry Maurice Miller was born in Auckland, New Zealand on January 6, 1934, the only child of Jewish parents, Sadie and Jim Miller.

When Miller was two years old his father, who worked as an indent agent, broke his spine in a fall. He died six years later.

"The Jewish community bundled me off to a Jewish orphanage in Wellington... called Dextons," Miller later recalled.

Miller's first taste of showbiz was running a "peepshow" for fellow students - a shoebox with cellophane windows through which he would wind a comic strip: "I used to charge kids a marble."

After school Miller worked as a dairy hand, on a trans-Tasman passenger ship, as a salesman for knitwear and frypans, and in a restaurant.

He began organising entertainment - a sideline that led him to found a record company.

His first signing - four Maori singers known as the Howard Morrison Quartet - enjoyed local success.

Miller's first big-name act was US jazz musician Louis Armstrong. Miller travelled to the US to approach Armstrong's manager, Joe Glaser. When Glaser asked, "You got any bucks, kid?", Miller said he did not.

Miller recalled: "He thought it was so funny, that this kid was trying to buy Louis Armstrong, that he thought I should get it. And he did."

Armstrong toured in 1963 - the same year Miller moved to Australia, founding Pan Pacific Productions Pty Ltd with Keith and Dennis Wong, who owned Sydney's Chequers nightclub.

Miller brought out Judy Garland to do three concerts in 1964. Garland, a drug addict, held up for the Sydney Stadium shows, but the concert at Melbourne's Festival Hall was a shambles.

Miller stood near the back, "copping anger and abuse as the public filed out".

But he rarely put a foot wrong, coupling chutzpah with charm, good looks and a keen business nose.

Other acts he brought out in the 1960s included the Rolling Stones, conductor Artur Rubinstein, Herman's Hermits, the Beach Boys and Sonny and Cher.

In 1978 he overreached by establishing a ticketing company, Computicket. Sydney's Sun newspaper reported: "Harry M can see the day when, with the aid of cable TV, customers will be able to book shows from their living rooms."

The idea was visionary, but within six months Computicket was in receivership.

In 1982 Miller was convicted on five charges of fraudulent misappropriation of $728,000 in connection with Computicket, and spent ten months in Long Bay and Cessnock jails.

When he resumed his career, he was reluctant to discuss any aspect of the Computicket affair.

Miller attracted criticism for making money from tragedy and sensation. One example was Stuart Diver, who survived the 1997 Thredbo disaster. Miller also handled the funeral of INXS singer Michael Hutchence.

In 2010, Miller told the ABC's Talking Heads that his greatest success was handling Lindy Chamberlain when she was freed after being wrongfully jailed over the death of her daughter Azaria.

Miller described his role as "broker/salesman" and keeping unwanted media at bay until he had sold Chamberlain's story: "What the media quickly learned, thank God, was that if they didn't play the game, they weren't even in the game."

Miller's private life was complicated. "My wandering eye is something I have struggled to control all my adult life," he wrote in his autobiography.

His first marriage, in 1957 to Zoe von Uht, resulted in a son, Simon, but ended in 1962.

He married American Patricia Mitchell in 1963, but that ended unhappily four years later when she took their two children back to the US.

"She took everything. I remember coming back from a trip and standing in our empty house. I think the kitchen sink was still there but very little else," Miller recalled in his 2009 autobiography, Confessions Of A Not-So-Secret Agent.

In 1972, following the death of his mother Sadie, Miller married 23-year-old vet Wendy Paul and they had two daughters, Brook and Lauren. Wendy stood by him during the Computicket scandal, running both the Harry M Miller Group and their large Simmental cattle property, Dunmore, at Manilla, in the NSW New England area.

This was followed by an 11-year relationship with the model Deborah Hutton, whom the Harry M. Miller Group had steered into the corporate world. (Hutton was initially the public face of the department store Grace Bros.)

In the late 1990s Miller met society caterer and businesswoman Simmone Logue, who he described in 2010 as "the love of my life".

Miller retired in 2009 and handed his business to his daughter, Lauren Miller Cilento.

In 2011 Miller was diagnosed with vascular dementia. He moved into an aged-care facility but spent weekends with Logue. In August 2015, when he and Logue were photographed in Sydney's east, she was pushing his wheelchair.

Miller is survived by Logue and his five children - sons Simon and Miles and daughters Brook, Lauren and Justine.

Miller leaves a shining legacy in the world of showbiz. Source: 1 NEWS


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