What About Roxon?

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May 25, 2011 by admin

Two people have e-mailed me recently, saying, in effect, “what about Lillian Roxon”? Clearly, this is in response to all the stuff I’ve been posting about Ellen Willis, and I guess there is a kind of meme floating about that Willis is the first (or let’s say the first significant) “female rock critic.” Weird that people are mentioning this to me, given that I’ve avoided that particular angle altogether (not that it isn’t an interesting and important angle to explore — it is, I just don’t know what to say about it myself). Anyway… yeah, Lillian Roxon, for sure, very important and excellent critic. In fact, I just purchased a used copy of her Rock Encyclopedia on eBay a month or so ago (after years of being told by my friend Phil just how great it is), and some of the entries I’ve read are as good as I’ve been led to believe, though I need much more time with it to comment further (it’s been crowded out of my consciousness by all the new books that have come my way). For the time being, I direct you back to this earlier post for a look and listen on YouTube, from 1973.

(I should also note that it would be equally foolish to give the impression that Roxon and Willis were the only early female rock critics, though one thing that separates Willis from the others is her relative longevity in the field. Christgau mentions a bunch of other names in this piece he wrote on Meltzer in 1970, including Lorraine Alterman and Ellen Sander.)

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