Have you discovered Helen Reddy yet
It’s obvious from this recording that Lillian Roxon prides herself on being able to identify which acts will make it big. Her friend Reddy topped the charts in 1972 with her women’s liberation anthem ‘I Am Woman’.
Even the title of this piece reveals Roxon's love for Helen Reddy’s music – with the subtle but insistent assertion that if you haven’t already heard of Reddy then you are surely about to.
In accordance with the style of New Journalism Roxon inserts herself into the narrative explaining her personal connection with Reddy and how much she loves her music. However, ever the clear-eyed critic (even with friends), she doesn’t miss the chance to register her disapproval of the fast arrangement of ‘I Am Woman’.
This engaging mixture of subjectivity and objectivity enhances the trust between Roxon and her listeners. She leaves you with the impression she’s a fiercely passionate fan and someone who’s going to tell it how it is.
Reddy credits Roxon with giving her the idea to write ‘I Am Woman’. Roxon’s influential article about the 25,000-woman march marking the 50th anniversary of women’s suffrage in the US appeared on the front page of the Sydney Morning Herald on 28 August 1970.
It began ‘This is the hardest piece I have ever had to write in my life … I am supposed to be telling it briskly and factually and without bias. Fat chance. I’m so biased, I can hardly think straight.’ She goes on to say ‘Mainly, I think, what women want is to be taken seriously. Being a woman has always been a bit of joke. Women don’t even take one another seriously.’
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.
Reddy's song 'I Am Woman' was added to the NFSA's Sounds of Australia in 2009.
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