The Queen of Soul Comes Home
This report about an Aretha Franklin concert is in a more familiar straight style of music journalism, where we experience a concert through the eyes and ears of the critic.
Writer and presenter Lillian Roxon manages to give the report her own eccentric flavour by going into detail about the ‘strange décor’ at the venue and dissecting the line-up order of the show.
Roxon’s background in writing for tabloid audiences is evident in her remarks about Franklin’s hair and clothes, but then she deliberately fleshes out her critique with more air time given to how Aretha’s performance makes the audience feel.
Roxon’s tastes were very eclectic and it’s obvious from her passionate delivery that she remains a music fan as well as a critic.
At the start and finish, Roxon skilfully delivers the necessary embedded advertisements for Brightside Shampoo in deadpan fashion before changing register as if she’s talking to a friend and getting down to the real business of her report.
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 an Atlantic Records publicity photo of Aretha Franklin. Staring straight at the camera with a look of regal confidence, this image brilliantly reinforces her image as the Queen of Soul.
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.