Just Who Is Peter Allen
Lillian Roxon is out to correct some misconceptions about Peter Allen’s music in this report. She is a passionate advocate for his new album, with 12 songs that ‘tear into your emotions like barbed wire’.
In dismissing his previous, ‘very showbiz’ appearances on late-night TV, Roxon is speaking as one with her hip, rock-loving audience but urging them to give Allen’s new solo music a chance like she did.
Her critique carries power because of the obvious sincerity behind it; you can hear in her voice that this album has moved her greatly, even without her saying ‘this is a very important album and everyone should listen to it’.
Roxon’s enthusiasm inadvertently accentuates her Australian accent, never clearer than on ‘love and marriage shouldn’t be like a horse and carriage’. Roxon was the first female Australian foreign correspondent in the US for the Sydney Morning Herald.
In addition to writing the seminal Lillian Roxon's Rock Encyclopedia (1969), she also wrote for US publications such as Mademoiselle, New York News, Go Set and Sunday News.
Born in Italy, Roxon's family came to Australia when she was five years old. She moved to New York in 1959 and lived there until her death in 1973.
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 of Peter Allen is courtesy National Library of Australia. Allen's song 'I Still Call Australia Home' was added to the NFSA's Sounds of Australia in 2013.
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