Obituary: Jack Henry Moore, 73

Jack Moore was a big figure in the counter-cultural scene. Picture: Contributed

Jack Moore was a big figure in the counter-cultural scene. Picture: Contributed

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A controversial figure who helped put the Traverse Theatre on the map has died at the age of 73.

Jack Henry Moore was a colossal figure in the counter-cultural scene of the 1960s, documenting on film an era that for many passed in a psychedelic blur.

The exuberant American with long hair and a full beard turned up unannounced one day at the doorstep of the theatre’s founder Jim Haynes asking for a job.

He went on to direct several hit Traverse productions, including The Fantasticks and A Child’s Christmas in Wales but left following a row with management.

Mr Haynes, who knew Mr Moore for more than 40 years, described him as “extremely complex” man.

He said: “Jack could be charming, helpful, funny, gracious, and rude. Once he took you out of his address book, he never wanted to deal with you again.”

He not only produced and directed plays and musicals in the Capital but launched the underground paper International Times, for which he wrote prolifically.

An events organiser, sound recordist and filmmaker, he also helped to establish such London venues as UFO and the Drury Lane Arts Lab, as well as the Melkweg, or Milky Way, in Amsterdam, which remains an important cultural centre.

He created a huge film archive, documenting iconic performances from the likes of John Lennon and Pink Floyd which would otherwise have been lost in a purple haze.

He created the first “video cinema” by converting pre-war British TV sets into video projectors, and founded Videoheads, a collective of artists interested in using the new video technology in their work.

He was also actively involved with the newspaper Suck and the Wet Dream film festival.

Keeping pace with technological change, he worked with Unesco and the Sony Corporation, teaching and installing video units all over the world.

As recently as 2012 counter-culture survivors around the world joined forces when Mr Moore’s landlord threatened to evict him from his Paris apartment for which he owed thousands of euros in back rent.

Born in Oklahoma in June 1940, Mr Moore studied engineering at the state’s university before switching to the theatre department.

When he graduated he headed for New York City where he worked on Broadway and off-Broadway.

It was during this period, while visiting the family of a friend, that he was offered a stage manager’s job in Dublin where – it is rumoured – he also picked up work as a private detective.

Openly gay, he came out at a time when homosexuality was still illegal in his home state.

From the 1980s until the 21st century, he concentrated on capturing on film artistic endeavour in all its forms.

Mr Moore, who succumbed to liver cancer in France on April 2, wrote his own epitaph from his hospital bed, which read: “Penniless artist dies alone in Paris. This is hardly news.”