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Moe Septee

1925 - 1997

Born Moses Septytor in Poland in 1925, Moe Septee came with his family to Newark in 1928. Septytor wrote for the television series “The Eternal Light” co-produced by NBC and the Jewish Theological Seminary. He was advised to change his name if he wanted a career in entertainment and became Moe Septee. He worked in radio and television and had a public relations firm in Newark before he began producing classical music concerts at the Mosque Theatre (later renamed Symphony Hall) and in Philadelphia at the Academy of Music. On May 2, 1961, Septee brought Judy Garland to Newark, where she played to a packed house. By then, Septee and his wife, Ruth, had three young daughters, and he noticed that young people were listening to a different type of music. He booked Joan Baez, then met Bob Dylan and booked him twice. In 1964, he brought The Beatles to Philadelphia. The year before, Septee, whose family had been summering in Belmar and eventually bought a summer home in Deal, noticed Convention Hall and began producing pop music shows there, in partnership with Felix Gerstman. Their first season was not that successful: acts like Ella Fitzgerald, Dave Brubeck and Victor Borge did not sell that many tickets. But Peter, Paul and Mary did sell, and Septee realized that by appealing to younger audiences, his summer concert series could be a success. In 1964 he debuted his “Summer of Stars” series of shows at Convention Hall, which brought the biggest rock names to the 3,500-seat venue. Bands such as The Who, The Rolling Stones, The Doors, the Dave Clark Five, Jimi Hendrix, Janice Joplin, the Temptations, Otis Redding, the Supremes, Black Sabbath, The Beach Boys, James Brown, The Byrds and Ray Charles played at the Hall. On the evening of August 16, 1969, Led Zeppelin played Convention Hall after their manager, Peter Grant, rejected an offer to play at Woodstock. Joe Cocker opened for Zeppelin that night before heading to Bethel, N.Y., for his opening slot on Woodstock’s third and final day. Septee was a hands-on producer, distributing posters, selling tickets from the box office, and hiring off-duty Asbury police to provide security. By 1974, Septee decided to leave the concert promotion business in Asbury in 1975 to devote more time to producing plays for the theater. His family says Septee knew Asbury was in good hands with John Scher in charge. Septee brought shows like "Yentle," "Bubbling Brown Sugar" and "Richard III," starring Al Pacino, to the state before his death at age 71, in 1997.