Known as ‘the Mother of Rock’, Lillian Roxon effectively presents herself here as being at the epicentre of music and culture in New York City in the 1970s.
Fifteen years older than Iggy Pop (lead singer of proto-punk band The Stooges), she deliberately highlights her mature perspective, referring to him as a boy in the report.
Youth culture often wasn’t being taken seriously at the time but Roxon acts here as a passionate advocate and tour guide, inviting listeners to become believers in the The Stooges' music and Pop’s powerful mode of performance.
Her skilful writing deliberately provokes shock by invoking religious language as she provocatively asks audiences if he is the silver messiah – albeit a ranting, spitting one covered in baby oil and glitter. Pop was a regular performer at Roxon's New York haunt Max's Kansas City so the two knew each other well.
Roxon’s bold writing style and clear, concise delivery makes it a pleasure to listen to her opinions about well-known rock figures.
Decades on, it is still arresting to hear a woman speak with such confidence and authority, especially about the largely ‘man’s world’ of 1970s rock. Roxon was truly ahead of her time.
This is an episode of the radio show Discotique – a two-minute ‘daily newscast from the world of music’ produced in 1971 and syndicated on 250 radio stations in the United States.
The cover image for this title is from 'Iggy Pop, October 25, 1977 at the State Theatre, Minneapolis, MN'. Published under Creative Commons 2.0. Photographer: Michael Markos.
Notes by Beth Taylor
Lillian Roxon (1932–1973) was an Australian journalist who lived in New York in the 1960s and 70s. Dubbed ‘the mother of rock’, she wrote the iconic Lillian Roxon's Rock Encyclopedia, which was published in 1969.
In the 1970s Roxon documented the emerging rock revolution and later the birth of punk from her haunt – the New York city music club Max’s Kansas City – which was frequented by Iggy Pop, Andy Warhol, Lou Reed, Debbie Harry, Alice Cooper, Jimi Hendrix and David Bowie.
During 1971 she wrote and presented a show called Discotique – a two-minute ‘daily newscast from the world of music’. The shows, which ran from March to October 1971, were recorded and then pressed onto vinyl LPs (20 shows fitted onto one LP) and syndicated on 250 radio stations in the United States. At the time, her voice would have been a curiosity for listeners unaccustomed to hearing Australian accents.
Roxon died tragically at the age of 41 from a severe asthma attack.
The Discotique recordings in our collection date from 28 June to 23 July 1971 and appear on an LP that the Roxon family donated to the NFSA in 2013. Given Roxon’s significance to the history of rock music, Radio Archivist Maryanne Doyle had long been looking for radio recordings of Roxon reporting on the music scene.
Maryanne first heard about the Discotique recordings thanks to Robert de Young, producer of the documentary Mother of Rock, about Roxon’s life. Mother of Rock (2010) is preserved in the NFSA collection as part of the National Documentary Program funded by Screen Australia.
Notes by Beth Taylor