Robert Milliken

Mother of Rock

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From the pubs of the Sydney Push to New York’s legendary nightclubs, Lillian Roxon set the pace for an era that changed the world.

Audacious, independent and fiercely intelligent, by eighteen she was cutting her writing teeth in the colourful world of Sydney tabloid journalism. She moved to New York in 1959, just in time for a cultural revolution that celebrated youth, sexual freedom, women’s liberation — and rock and roll.

Roxon quickly became the centre of a circle that included Andy Warhol, Lou Reed, Jim Morrison and David Bowie. Linda Eastman confided in her about her first dates with Paul McCartney. Germaine Greer dedicated The Female Eunuch to her. Roxon’s Rock Encyclopedia, published in 1969, was the first book of its kind and established her as a leading chronicler of rock and youth culture. When she died suddenly in 1973, she left behind a collection of work full of the energy, irreverence and idealism of her times.

Drawing on Roxon’s personal papers and extensive interviews with those who knew her, Mother of Rock is a riveting portrait of an Australian trailblazer. It also contains a generous selection of Roxon’s own writing, including extracts from her Rock Encyclopedia, which revolutionised the way rock music was perceived.

‘I don’t think I’d ever have written a song if it weren’t for Lillian. I have to attribute to her my first awareness of the women’s movement, and the fact that it might be OK to write something and show it to someone without being laughed off the planet.’ —Helen Reddy

‘Robert Milliken has taken this bright and shining life and allowed it to live again. The research is immaculate and the style and crafting of it a fitting tribute to someone of whom we should all be more aware.’ —Courier Mail

‘Lillian represented Sydney. That very lucky, fearless kind of experimentation with everything, whether it was thoughts or style. It belonged to Sydney.’ —David Malouf
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537 printed pages
Original publication


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