2010 DOC NYC: Paul Clarke's Mother of Rock: Lillian Roxon
Source: IONCINEMA.com Festival Coverage
Lillian Roxon was a pioneering music journalist in the hedonistic rock ‘n’ roll world of the 1960s. A transplant from Australia, she made her mark in the boho scene of Manhattan, hanging out with the likes of Bob Dylan, The Velvet Underground, and Andy Warhol. She had a sixth sense for predicting who was going to be culturally significant, and her charm and enthusiasm was infectious. Paul Clarke profiles her brief but incredible story in Mother of Rock: Lillian Roxon.
Roxon was raised in Australia after her family emigrated from Italy in the 1930s to escape fascism. She was a free spirit who preferred to live as a single and adventurous woman in 1950s Sydney rather than wait at home to be married. Wherever there was a party, she was there. Getting started in tabloid journalism, she moved to NYC in 1959 and became the correspondent for several Australian women’s magazines. There, she served as ambassador for other Australian visitors, soaked up the nightlife, and was drawn like a magnet to the electrifying world of rock ‘n’ roll.
Roxon stood out as a freak, both as a foreigner and as a female writer in the burgeoning world of rock journalism. Iggy Pop, whose punk rock stage antics Roxon was blown away by, pointed out that she was attracted to the reckless dark side of rock ‘n’ roll, knowing everyone at Max’s Kansas City. She was a singular force who was an early promoter of punk rock before it had a name, the glam rock scene, and anything that was wild and weird and unusual. Her life burned out at age 41 due to an asthmatic condition, but while she was here, the world was a little brighter with her in it.
Lillian Roxon paved the way for seminal female rock music journalists like Ann Powers and Jancee Dunn. No inhibitions, no regrets, just a woman who, with the power of her pen, brought the freak side of New York City’s rock scene to many rock music fans and lonely outcasts, detailing the underground scene of music, art, sex, and theater that was just exploding with raw and vibrant power.