As recent journalism industry news suggests, the media world isn’t always a kind place to women, and things certainly weren’t any easier back in 1969 when veteran rock writer Lisa Robinson got her start. Tough, smart and with a knack for encountering some of music’s biggest names at pivotal moments, Robinson tells the the unique story of her career in in her new memoir, There Goes Gravity: A Life in Rock and Roll.
Here are five key takeaways:
1. Readers might automatically think of Almost Famous when hearing about Robinson’s career, and the way she found the job was even more haphazard than the fictionalized version of Cameron Crowe. Robinson’s future husband, DJ and producer Richard Robinson, asked her to take over his weekly syndicated music column in an English newspaper, as he was too busy producing Lou Reed‘s solo debut to keep up with the writing duties. Even though she didn’t have any experience, Robinson nervously accepted and parlayed it into a nearly 40-year career that’s included writing for Vanity Fair, NME and The New York Post.
2. Robinson’s introduction to big-name rock stars came in the form of Led Zeppelin, who had a notorious reputation when it came to women. But rather than kowtow, Robinson approached the rock gods as if they were mere mortals. Soon enough, they realized that she was just as knowledgeable about the blues as they were, and invited her to go on tour with them.
3. Zeppelin’s willingness to let her join into their boys club led to the Rolling Stones bringing her on tour in 1975. There, she served as both a writer covering the band and their press liaison, helping them decide to whom they would grant interviews. Despite her help, Robinson was forced to wait months before she was given her own sit-down with Keith Richards, who wasn’t in the clearest state of mind in those days. Thankfully, she met him again a few years later after he kicked his drug habit, the two had a much better interview and they became friends.
4. Fashion is a recurring theme throughout the book. Robinson once gave Mick Jagger a pair of her underwear to don for an Annie Leibovitz photo shoot, lent Freddie Mercury her perfume and even consulted Bono on his hairstyle choices. She also discusses the stylish ways of Janis Joplin, Patti Smith and the Clash, the latter of whom she helped get a record deal through her various industry connections.
5. Robinson grew close to Lou Reed through her husband, who, in addition to his debut, also produced his 1978 album Street Hassle. She discusses Lou’s moody ways in the book, recalls bringing him to CBGB to see Television and shares the story of how she introduced the rock icon to David Bowie at a private New York City dinner. Her’s was some of the best access any journalist ever had to Reed, from his younger years to his more domestic later years with his wife Laurie Anderson.
That’s all just a taste from the book, which is out now via Riverhead.