Joe Brown

He was the tuxedoed godfather of 20th century New Zealand show business, tireless, squeaky-clean promoter of talent quests like Search for Stars, decades before New Zealand’s Got Talent and New Zealand Idol. Joe Brown Enterprises – his business arm – then signed, recorded and released the victors.

From the late 1930s, Brown quickly became well known as the promoter of weekly dances at the Dunedin Town Hall, events which were broadcast nationwide. Later, his fame grew when he ran the Miss New Zealand beauty contests between 1960 and the 1980s. He made the pageant a glamorous and wholesome entertainment perennial, partly because of the canny decision to showcase fresh musical talent like John Hore (Grenell), Peter Posa and the Quin Tikis in the touring packages. The Howard Morrison Quartet meanwhile anchored the pageant, year after successful year.  

Miss New Zealand line-up and Joe Brown
Photo credit: Courtesy of the Rim D. Paul Collection at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa
Take Ten was a 1967 duet album with John Hore and Howard Morrison, rush recorded by Joe Brown to coincide with a tour.
“There’s no more,” Joe Brown tells the younger section of his audience at the Nelson carnival, February 1961
Photo credit: Nelson Photo News
Mosgiel promoter and entrepreneur Joe Brown nurtured many musicians' careers over five deades. This portrait was taken by the Evening Post in 1959. Alexander Turnbull Library, EP/1959/0216-F
A wartime entertainment: Joe Brown presents the revue Lights Up at His Majesty's Theatre, Dunedin, 1944. Alexander Turnbull Library, Ref: Eph-A-VARIETY-1944-01-front
Photo credit: Alexander Turnbull Library
Joe Brown's Search for Stars, 1970
By November 1936, the Joe Brown dances were so popular they had moved to the main hall of the Dunedin Town Hall. "Be early or be disappointed," Brown advised.
Howard Morrison Quartet performing at Miss New Zealand show, 1963 - promoter Joe Brown
Advertisement for Joe Brown's second professional dance promotion, Otago Daily Times, 29 August 1936. Note the enticement to the public that members of the Canterbury rugby team may be attending after their Ranfurly shield match against Otago. However Otago won 16-0.
Postcard advertising acts playing Dunedin's "Town Hall Dance, Every Saturday Night", c.1940. Dick Colvin's Band was one of the first in New Zealand to perform 'Blue Smoke'. The inserts show promoter Joe Brown, Jimmie MacFarlane, Irene Brookes, and teenage country singer. Les Wilson. The Colvin band members include Arthur Waller, Jack Priestly, George Thorn, J. R. Robb, Fred Gedson, and J. Burbery.
Photo credit: Hocken Library P1999-031/2-002
Joe Brown coaxes 12 correct answers out of Mrs Aline Timms of Stoke to win “Take Your Pick” at the Nelson carnival, February 1961
Photo credit: Nelson Photo News
Joe Brown and John Hore in the USA, 1966. The interviewer at right is Bob Ferris, of Hollywood's KNX.CBS.
Photo credit: Gisborne Photo News
Miss New Zealand show 1973, a Joe Brown promotion. Eddie Low appears 10 minutes in.
John Hore and Eddie Low's album We Should Be Together, released on the Joe Brown label in 1972
Photo credit: Joe Brown
Joe Brown (far left) and the Christchurch promoter Trevor King (at the typewriter) on a judging panel on Brown’s Search for Stars talent quest. Between Brown and King is George Tollerton.
Photo credit: Courtesy of Chris Bourke

Joe Brown

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