Music Journalism A-Z – Lillian Roxon

Lillian Roxon

In 1959 at the age of 27 Lillian moved to New York starting off as a freelancer for ‘Weekend’ and moving on to become the first Australian journalist to gain a high-profile in the States. In 1962 they offered her  the New York correspondent’s position for The Sydney Morning Herald, a job she kept for the next ten years.

Her organic writing style flowed into print form in an easy to follow way. She was a sharp critic with a keen ear that discerned well for the large metropolitan audience who read her weekly writings.

I religiously read Lillian Roxon’s music column in the New York Daily News. This was before I graduated to reading the New York Times later in college.

She held court in the late sixties/early 70s  in the infamous back room of Max’s Kansas City. She fit in well among the celebrities of the era.

Lillian Roxon wrote the first definitive rock encyclopedia, Lillian Roxon’s Rock Encyclopedia The New York Times described it as ‘the most complete book on rock music and rock culture ever written’ and it effectively became the template for many of the music books that followed. I owned and loved that book, I dog earred the pages I read and referred to it so often. It served as a major reference for me in programming the FM radio shows I did in the 70s.

Lillian Roxon's Rock Encyclopedia


Lillian Roxon, The Mother of Rock Journalism Web Article

In 2002 Robert Milliken’s book ‘Mother of Rock: The Lillian Roxon Story’ was published.

Book Cover:  Mother of Rock: The Lillian Roxon Story

In 2010 Paul Clarke’s documentary ‘Mother of Rock’ premiered at the Melbourne Film Festival. It seems a feature film is also now in development as a lasting tribute to a woman who broke down many barriers and was a pioneer in her own unique way.

‘This book is dedicated to Lillian, who lives with nobody but a colony of New York roaches, whose energy has never failed despite her anxieties and her asthma and her overweight, who is always interested in everybody, often angry, sometimes bitchy, but always involved …’—Germaine Greer,The Female Eunuch

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