Lisa Robinson: From Zeppelin To Ludacris, She’s Interviewed Them All
Lisa Robinson has penned a book about her adventures in Rock History. There Goes Gravity: A Life in Rock and Roll documents a lifetime of riveting stories, many told for the first time in this book.
Since the early 1970’s, Lisa Robinson has traveled extensively with these musicians, earning their trust and capturing the hidden side of rock’s most public personas. She’s been on the side of the stage, backstage, in dressing rooms, swanky hotels, seedy motels, tour buses, recording studios, and the private homes of the biggest stars. (Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, Patti Smith, The Clash, David Bowie to name a few.)
Notably, Robinson was a pioneering female journalist in a male-dominated world that rarely allowed women any respectable access. Lisa spoke to me from her home in L.A.
Hear the 7 minute conversation here or read the highlights below.
On getting her big break:
Led Zeppelin saw my first article in Disc and Music Echo, the band was getting bad reviews in America, the male rock critics thought they were a cheesy heavy metal band. They asked me to come and see them play and I loved them. I heard all these different influences in their music, and when I started to talk about that, they were very pleased that someone got what they were doing and took me on the road with them. And here we are, almost 45… 50 years later, and they’re considered one of the best bands in the world. So I would say that was a good first break.
Speaking of Zeppelin, you happened to be on that plane with their manager pulled out a pistol…
Jimmy Page was arguing with a British journalist who was yelling at him and Jimmy was a little drunk and it got a little tense and all of a sudden their tour manager was standing in the aisle with a gun. And the thing is, nobody remembers these things the same way, but because I was not stoned, I was not drunk, I took copious notes, ( I still have all of them), I also had my tape recorder on the whole time, I do remember that incident. Do you still have all that audio? Yes, I was listening to one of John Lennon in 1980, about 2 months before he was murdered. It’s as if he’s still in the room, it’s really eerie. This stuff (the audio) all lasted, knock on wood.
How did you get the trust of these huge rock stars?
From the first time I met Mick Jagger, I was so not intimidated even though I was a big Stones fan. The first thing out of my mouth was, ‘Those are the tackiest shoes I’ve ever seen.’ He was wearing these rhinestone studded shoes and they really were ridiculous. And I think he just laughed because no one ever talked to him like that. If a journalist was around Mick Jagger, they were really nervous. I was never nervous.
You talked to them like they were real people… Well, they are real people…
You met Michael Jackson when he was 12. What was that day like? It was absolutely incredible because he was the most adorable child, inquisitive, talented, sweet, fun kid. He asked me more questions than I asked him. I remember calling up a friend to say, ‘This kid is going to be the greatest entertainer ever.” There was just something about him that was magical. We remained friendly for years. He’d call me on the phone, we’d do a lot of interviews together, and I saw that when he grew older and especially when he had his massive solo success, he was incredibly talented but got way more paranoid, way more insular. It was sad what happened to him.