Can Lou Reed Surface From The Velvet Underground
Lillian Roxon champions ahead-of-their-time band The Velvet Underground and lead singer Lou Reed, who is about to strike out on his own. Lou Reed was a regular at Roxon's New York haunt Max's Kansas City so the two knew each other well.
The report shows her ear for talent and position at the vanguard of '70s rock, as her comments about Reed’s future success as a solo artist proved accurate.
Amid an entertaining, fact-filled history of Reed and the Underground, Roxon drops some beautifully eloquent appraisal of Reed’s ‘sinister, cynical and yet strangely poetic songs’.
She breathes equal depth of feeling into her one-word summation of a new Velvet Underground live album as simply ‘cosmic’.
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 'Velvet Underground' (1968). Photographer: Billy Name. The effortless, underground cool of the band is exemplified by this dynamic image of its members.
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