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September 22, 2023

A step back in Rock ‘n’ Roll time to 1959

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J O’K.

The only live rock’n’roll feature film ever made in the 1950s began its screening in May before setting off on a nation wide tour of Australia. 

Miraculously retrieved from a certain journey to the local tip, Melbourne resident Mark Iaria discovered the film while visiting a yard sale clear out in Melbourne’s northern suburbs. 

After three years of research and restoration, Rock’n’Roll has hit the highway for a modern day ‘roadshow’ across the country, beginning it’s journey on May 22 at the Dendy Newtown in Sydney, and then weaving its way throughout Australia for the remainder of 2023. 

Lee Gordon

The brainchild of American Lee Gordon, whose entertainment company blossomed in Australia during the 1950s and early 60s, Rock’n’Roll sat on the top of the NFSAs most wanted list for decades, after the only copy thought to have survived was accidentally taken to the local tip in the early 1970s by a removalist working for the director of the film, Lee Robinson. 

Widely regarded as one of the most important cultural artefacts to be retrieved in the post-war period, ‘Rock’n’Roll’ catalogues a short lived but crucial phase in the genesis of the Rock’n’Roll genre prior to the ‘Merseybeat’ invasion headed by The Beatles in the early 1960s. 

The cream of Australian rock’n’roll performers

Showcasing the cream of Australian rock’n’roll performers of the era, the film features Johnny O’Keefe, Col Joye, Johnny Devlin, The Delltones, Johnny Rebb, Lonnie Lee, The Graduates, The Crescents and Warren Williams, in 80 minutes of raw, cultural defining moments, while performing at the iconic Sydney Stadium for one of Gordon’s 1959 ‘Big Shows’, in front of thousands of fans. 

As Australian youths clamoured to join in the wave of American pop culture that began to pour into the country in the 1950s, via film, radio and television, Rock’n’Roll captures a critical flashpoint in outstanding audio and visual quality.

Rock’n’Roll is a must see for anyone connected or appreciative of the early days of Rock’n’Roll and beyond. 

You can see this film screening on Sunday at 3.15pm at The Regent, Murwillumbah.


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  1. I was Lee Gordon’s music man…I was the first Discotheque Disc Jockey in the Southern Hemisphere. I developed the sound for The Sound Lounge in William Street, Lee Gordon’s All Male Revue in Darlinghurst Road, Lee Gordon’s at the Kings Cross Theatre, and the Birdcage same venue. I went on to set up and run the music at Les Girls for Sammy Lee and Reg Boom in Kings Cross.
    Lee Gordon died in London 1963.

  2. Man, I can hardly wait to see this film. Good that Dig Richards wasn’t listed. Saw many of the shows at the Tin Shed (aka the Stadium in Rushcutters Bay). One favourite show was the one when half the show was a rampaging J O’K only (based by the Dellies), then Ricky Nelson who was slow hand clapped by a baying crowd demanding that J O’K roe eturned to the stage. Sadly it didn’t happen. Poor Ricky. Hahah

    • Ross. Only for the car crash Dig would have been the MC and also a performer for the complete tour and have made the film Unlucky he was. bob hayden

  3. Hi Adrian… I am currently compiling material on a small project in regards Lee Gordon and would like to make contact at a time suitable to you
    Can you write to me at [email protected] or call 0410-670-415. Looking forward to hearing from you Kind regards Bob hayden (Researcher for FILM)


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