A Fitting Outfit
Tex Morton’s Moose Hide Jacket
This brilliant jacket certainly fits the story of its former owner the country musician Tex Morton (1916-1983), born in 1916 as Robert William Lane. Robert or ‘Bobby’ began busking at 14 before recording several albums in Wellington, New Zealand. These are believed to be the first country music recordings made outside of America. In the early 1930s, Lane migrated to Sydney where he claimed to have become friends with the Australian poet Banjo Paterson (1864-1941). From that friendship, his love of Australian bush ballads emerged.
Just before the Second World War, Tex Morton as he was now known, toured Australia with his Wild West Rodeo Show. This show combined circus, rodeo and music and proved highly popular. After the war, Morton moved to the USA, touring North America and Canada with his music but also as a stage hypnotist, whip cracker, and sharp-shooter.
As a demonstration of how popular he was, he even had a self-branded series of comics Tex Morton’s Wild West Comics published back in Australia. These included stories mythologising the bush life, biographies of Australian heroes, and the adventures of a jillaroo called Bunny Lane.
Tex said that this jacket was made for him as a gift from Canadian First Nation women. It is moose hide and decorated with a floral beading design and natural fringing. The colourful beading that has been stitched onto the front panels repeats across the shoulders, and also across the back of the sleeve cuffs. It’s the sort of jacket that wouldn’t be out of place in the late 1960s Summer of Love or a stadium rock band of the 1970s. Drawing the attention of anyone seeing it, it was the perfect outfit for a larger-than-life performer like Tex.