Lisa Robinson’s book There Goes Gravity: A Life in Rock and Roll gives readers a window into her journalistic career — one full of music, headlines and legends.In 1970, Lisa Robinson started writing a small music column from Manhattan for a British weekly pop newspaper called Disc and Music Echo. Back then, “there were like 10 people doing this,” she tells American Way. Just a few years later, she was sent on the road with one of rock music’s greatest bands, Led Zeppelin. It would be Robinson’s first tour of many, kicking off a tremendous career writing about some of the best-known artists from more than four decades in music, from the Rolling Stones to U2 to Lady Gaga.
In her new book, There Goes Gravity: A Life in Rock and Roll (Riverhead Books, $28), Robinson offers readers a delicious peek behind the scenes with some of rock ’n’ roll’s legendary stars. She was there with musicians backstage, at hotels, in bars and clubs, on touring planes. “I wasn’t a critic,” Robinson says. “I was more of a feature writer, a chatty interviewer. I would just have conversations with people.”
Robinson’s cogent observations and passion for music gave her uncommon access into the lives of many of her subjects — who sometimes, like Lou Reed and Patti Smith, became close friends. One dinner in particular that she arranged has been, in her opinion, overhyped: “David Bowie meeting Lou Reed and Iggy Stooge has been made to sound as if it were akin to the coming together of FDR, Stalin and Churchill at Yalta,” she says.
But as Robinson writes in the book, a more colorful night occurred when “the Bowies, Reeds, and [Tony] Defries [Bowie’s manager] came to our apartment for one of those Chinese takeout dinners. … With Lou watching appreciatively, Bettye [Reed’s wife] go-go danced alone in the living room, someone stole a rare copy of The East Village Other … and Lou and David locked themselves into a small room at the back of our apartment while Angela Bowie banged on the door, screeching for them to let her in.”
The stars today, Robinson says, are not all that different from those in their prime a half-century ago. “From the beginning of the Rolling Stones’ career, when their manager, Andrew Loog Oldham, had them line up and urinate against a garage wall,” she says, “they knew very well what they were selling.” And although rock ’n’ roll has evolved, the core element of rebellion is here to stay. “Every 10 years, someone says rock ’n’ roll is dead, but something else comes along. It’s cyclical.”