Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Lillian Roxon (1932-1973) was a noted Australian journalist and author. She was born Lillian Ropschitz in Savano , Italy. Her family, originally from Lvov in Poland, moved to the coastal town of Alassio in Italy, where Lillian was born. Because the Ropschitz family were Jewish, they migrated to Australia in 1937 to escape the rise of fascism, and they settled in Brisbane. Shortly after their arrival, the family anglicised their names; the surname Roxon was Lillian's suggestion.
She studied at the University of Queensland, where she met and had a brief affair with Zell Rabin , who gave Lillian her first job in America and who became a key associate of Rupert Murdoch in the early Sixties. She pursued further studies at the University of Sydney in the mid-1950s, where she fell in with the freewheeling libertarian movement known as the Sydney Push. She began her career in newspapers in Sydney and for several years worked for the tabloid magazine Weekend, owned by newspaper magnate Sir Frank Packer and edited by renowned author Donald Horne .
In 1959 she moved permanently to New York, becoming the first Australian female overseas correspondent and the first Australian journalist to establish a high profile in America. From 1962 onwards she was the New York correspondent for the Sydney Morning Herald and over the next ten years she carved out a singular career reporting on arts, entertainment and women's issues for the Australian, American and British press.
In the mid-1960s Roxon became fascinated by pop music and the rise of groups like The Beatles, The Byrds and The Rolling Stones and she began to write regular articles on the subject. In early 1967 she visited San Francisco and was one of the first mainstream journalists to write about the nascent hippie movement, filing a landmark story for the Herald on the subject. She also contributed to the famous OZ magazine in the late 1960s.
Through her writings and her interest in pop, she became one of the leading lights of the social and musical scene that centred on the fabled New York music club Max's Kansas City, which was frequented by members of the Andy Warhol circle, Lou Reed and The Velvet Underground, Jim Morrison and many others.
Her articles about the burgeoning rock scene are now credited as being foundation stones of serious rock writing, and she has since been described by other leading critics as "The Mother Of Rock". She was friendly with many leading music stars, but rarely became personally involved. Although she looked young enough to mix easily with the rock crowd, she was at least ten years older than most of the musicians she wrote about. Unusually for the time, she did not smoke or take drugs and only rarely drank alcohol. These factors, and her renowned wit, combined to give her writing a degree of ironic detachment that influenced many younger rock writers. She was one of the first mainstream journalists to treat popular music with any degree of seriousness and to regard it not as a trivial "flash in the pan" but as an important social phenomenon.
During the late 1960s and early 1970s, Roxon became close friends with critic and rock manager Danny Fields , Village Voice journalist Blair Sabol , musician and writer Lenny Kaye (later the guitarist in Patti Smith's band and compiler of the original 'Nuggets' LP), photographers Linda McCartney and Leee Childers and famous Australian academic, author and feminist Germaine Greer, on whom Roxon exerted a strong influence.
Roxon also played host to many Australians who visited the city, including The Easybeats and singer Lynne Randell and artists including Clifton Pugh . Australian singer Helen Reddy credits Roxon for her first awareness of the women's movement and for providing much of the impetus for writing her international hit, "I Am Woman".
Linda McCartney (then Linda Eastman) was one of Roxon's closest female friends and she did much to further Eastman's career, but the friendship ended abruptly in 1969 when Eastman moved to London, married Paul McCartney and cut all ties with all her former friends, a move which wounded Roxon deeply.
Lillian eventually retaliated, four years later, with her famously scathing review of the McCartneys' first American TV special. Published in the New York Sunday News on 22 April 1973, Roxon's review panned the documentary and poured scorn on Linda, slamming her for being "catatonic with horror at having to mingle with ordinary people", "disdainful if not downright bored ... her teeth relentlessly clamped in a Scarsdale lockjaw", and "incredibly cold and arrogant".
During 1968-1969 Roxon was commissioned to write what became the world's first rock encyclopedia, published by Grosset & Dunlap in late 1969 and the work for which she is best remembered. It was extremely successful, is still regarded as a landmark in popular music writing and is often quoted. However the work had to be written concurrently with her regular duties as the Herald correspondent and her other press commitments. The punishing schedule took a heavy toll on her health, and she developed asthma.
In the early 1970s Roxon's profile expanded and she became more widely known for her feminist views. She wrote a groundbreaking and highly personal report about the August 1970 women's rights march in New York, which was published in the Sydney Morning Herald under the title "There is a tide in the affairs of women". She wrote a regular column on sex and sexuality for Mademoiselle magazine (which continued after her death) and during 1971 she hosted a rock radio show that was syndicated to 250 stations. She became friends with David Bowie and his first wife Angie and was a major champion of Bowie's music as he tried to break into in America.
Roxon's health declined during the early Seventies. She made what was to be her last visit home to Australia in early 1973. One of her last articles reported on the landmark New York concerts at Max's Kansas City by Iggy Pop and The Stooges and her final piece, filed in early August, was on rising British glam rock star Marc Bolan.
Lillian Roxon died at the age of 41 on 10 August 1973, after suffering a severe asmtha attack in her New York apartment. She was survived by her two brothers and her sister. Both parents pre-deceased her and she never married or had children.
Roxon wrote a novel, loosely based on her years in Sydney, which was never published. This manuscript now resides in Sydney's Mitchell Library along with her large collection of letters and other papers, donated by her family and her close friend, the artist Margaret Fink .
The contents of this article is licensed from www.wikipedia.org under the GNU Free Documentation License. Click here to see the transparent copy and copyright details