Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Lillian Roxon An Unsung Pioneer

I read Girls Like Us last year. It's the story of Carole King, Joni Mitchell and Carly Simon. I thought it would be a book about their rise to the top, delve into their craft and really dissect what made them successful. What struck me was the main thrust of book seemed to be who was sleeping with who. Hint: James Taylor, Steven Stills and David Crosby are a few of the repeat offenders. Needless to say, I was disappointed. The subjects are all extremely talented women and these stories played up their vulnerabilities rather than their strengths. Realizing what each of them has gone through, it becomes apparent that they are survivors and stronger than the men in their lives. This book did spark my interest when it mentioned Lillian Roxon, who was basically a footnote. I was not familiar with her. According to Girls Like Us she was an influential writer in the music world in the 1960's and early 70's. She was one of the first to write about rock music. Lillian was originally from Australia and she was the inspiration for the Helen Reddy's song I Am Woman. Eye Magazine is born in the late 1960's publishes about 15 or so issues and has offices on MacDougal St in Manhattan. Carly Simon gets an apartment a few blocks away. It seems that everything is exploding in this area of Greenwich Village. Roxon not only wrote for the magazine, but was an early champion of her photography and a friend to Linda Eastman (later on she marries Paul McCartney).

She was an early champion of David Bowie. Her writing is still fresh and her suggestions in a 1972 New York Sunday News piece, are very valid today. The subject of how "primitive by-products (we now think of it as merchandise) of the rock business are" comes up in a conversation with Bowie. Who knew Columbia Records put out a Sly Stone doll? Lillian mentions she would buy a David Bowie doll that comes with a few costume changes. Bowie was still unknown in the States and Ziggy Stardust was about to come out. Here is the tell tale sign that Bowie will be around for awhile:

In England, where he is incredibly popular (he's still just an in-group cult figure here but wait till "The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust" LP takes off) fans have already designed Ziggy Stardust stationery for themselves.

Isn't that what it's all about? Fans creating their own merchandise? She notes that most rock stars look like dolls and wouldn't you rather have a well-made doll than a poster with a bad enlargement of a photo? She offers advice for a hurting garment industry: Get the musician involved not only with the design of the clothes, but the design of the store also. "Buying and selling is a part of our everyday reality", she quips, so why can't musicians sell wares associated with them. She closes the article with "I'm not kidding, if its good enough for Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck, why not Ziggy Stardust, Ruby Tuesday, Eleanor Rigby and the rest of the gang?". Why not indeed. The bottom line is that if it's a quality product and it's true to who the musician is, it makes sense.

No comments:

Post a Comment