Lisa Robinson’s backstage pass to New York’s rock ‘n’ roll scene

There Goes Gravity
Lisa Robinson’s memoir, “There Goes Gravity” is out now. Credit: Provided

Inviting Lou Reed and David Bowie over for dinner or hanging out on the tour bus with The Rolling Stones in the summer of 1975 were just typical days for music journalist Lisa Robinson. From one of her first interviews with Led Zeppelin in the early ’70s to her recent Vanity Fair cover story on Jay Z, she has permeated the music scene and is one of the few journalists who musicians not only trust but count as a friend.

Now Robinson is gifting us with tales from her rock ‘n’ roll life in her new memoir, “There Goes Gravity.” We talk with Robinson about just a few of the crazy stories from her adventurous life.

On sex and drugs: “I was never tempted to sleep with anyone I was covering. Everyone always asks me and says things like, ‘But Mick Jagger was so cute! You never thought about it for a second?’ First of all, my husband was cuter than anybody. And also, it wasn’t even a temptation. I saw the way these bands treated groupies, and I kind of thought it was disgusting. It really wasn’t even tempting for me. The same thing with cocaine. Every time I saw somebody on coke, I thought they were babbling idiots.”

On being the only woman on the rock ‘n’ roll scene: “It was kind of interesting to me because I was the only woman covering this very misogynistic boys club — but it still is that. Unfortunately, it hasn’t changed. There are just a lot more [women music journalists] now. People assume that if you’re a woman and you’re hanging around rock ‘n’ roll that you’re there for the party. I was not. I was there for the music. … Would someone ask a male music journalist if he was tempted to sleep with Lady Gaga or Florence Welch? Nobody asks them that.”

On how covering music has changed: “It was such a different time [when I started]. You didn’t have publicists or celebrities connecting with fans through social media. No one was worried about their brand or ‘image.’ There were no fragrance lines. There were maybe two big bands. And then there were 50 big bands. Then 100. Now there’s thousands. It wasn’t a big business then. … But I [can still write the same type of stories]. I just did a cover story on Jay Z for Vanity Fair this past summer, and it was incredibly deep. I spent days with him and the transcript from various interviews was 150 pages long.”

It sounds like the best stories are still being told.

Book reading
May 8, 8:15 p.m.
92nd Street Y
1395 Lexington Ave., 212-415-5500
www.92y.org

Follow Emily on Twitter: @EmLaurence



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