Sydney Stadium

An overview from the forthcoming Starlite Records' CD Rom publication..
'The Roots of Australian Rock-n-Roll'

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From Fights to Music
It was built in the early 1900's on Rushcutters Bay Rd., just down the hill from Kings Cross, as Sydney's main boxing and wrestling venue, yet years later it was to earn itself the title of the premier venue for the early Rock 'n' Roll scene.

Many World Boxing and Wrestling title fights were held there and it operated many nights of the week. It was in fact one of the most popular venues in Sydney during the 20's, 30's and 40's.

It was built as a circular structure and was unlike any other, except a much smaller version in Newcastle. Every major entertainment act from Lou and Costello, Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra to all the Rockers except Elvis and Bing Crosby performed there to the 11,000 screaming fans sitting either on chairs or benches. Way up the back the benches were long and hard and that back area was called 'The Bleaches'.

The whole place was made out of corrugated iron sheets without any linings and the natural echo was amazing. When the music turned up, the sound enveloped back on itself and was very hard to decipher although it suited the slap echo type of R'n'R ! Once the audience started screaming it was impossible to hear anything, even on stage.

The stage itself was circular and slowly rotated so the star could be seen by everyone as it turned, however it didn't make a full rotation. Once it reached a certain point it went into reverse and started going back the other way. Many an act nearly fell at this point as the motion was anything but smooth. Bob Dillon had to ask one of his band to catch him.. The man responsible for all turning the boxing mecca into an international entertainment mecca was Amnericam expatriate Lee Gordon. He imported the major stars here and this was the only large venue available to him.


It was Sydney's Premier Showcase before The Opera House and Entertainment Centre were built.
Music artists such as... Frank Sinatra, Johnnie Ray, Frankie Lane, Bob Hope, Red Skelton, Bill Haley and the Comets, Buddy Holly & The Crickets, Conway Twitty, Gene Vincent, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, Everly Bros., Jerry Lee Lewis, Fabian, The Diamonds, The Checkmates, The Platters, The Drifters, Cliff Richards & The Shadows, Ricky Nelson, Bobby Rydell, Marv Johnson, Connie Frances, Brenda Lee, The Checkmates, The Platters, Paul Anka, Tommy Sands, Tab Hunter, Johnny Mathis, The Beatles, Bob Dillon, The Hollies, The Searchers, Gerry & The Pacemakers, Crash Craddock, Jack Scott, and many others.

Many Aussies such as Johnny O'keefe and The Dee Jays, Col Joye and The Joy Boys, Lonnie Lee and The Leemen, Johnny Devlin and The Devils, The Delltones, Johnny Rebb and The Rebels, Dig Richards and The Squares, Warren Willimans and Barry Stanton perfromed there as well.

It also saw movie stars such as The Mouseketeers, Bud Abbott and Lou Costello, Bob Hope and many ethnic dance shows.

Unfortunately in the early 70's it was demolished to enable a new Bondi train line and roadway to be built and it was right in the middle of the direct route. A very important piece of social history was lost when that happened.. but, the memory lingers on.... about both Lee Gorden and The 'Old Tin Shed'...Sydney Stadium.

Festival & Centennary Halls
The other capital cities also had their fight venues as pre Rock patrons not only had Bing Crosby and others as their idols, they also were boxing and wrestling crazy. The same story applied to these venues as to the Stadium. As soon as Rock'n'Roll reached it's crescendo, promoters went looking for the largest venues. In Melbourne and Brisbane they found the Festival Halls, in Adelaide it was The Centennary Hall and in Hobart is was the City Hall.
Rock 'n' Roll had found a home right across Australia!



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Brisbane Festival Hall

Melbourne Festival Hall





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Phil Tripp