Rock's Den Mother Tells All in New Book: Lisa Robinson on Jagger, Richards, Bowie, & More

by David Hershkovits
(Photo by Patrick McMullan)

I predict that Lisa Robinson's There Goes Gravity: A Life in Rock and Roll will be this summer's #1 beach read. For almost 50 years, Robinson's been a journalist with an all-access pass that brought her close proximity, if not professional intimacy, with the biggest names in rock history from the Stones to Led Zeppelin to the Beatles to Bowie et al. in the era when the mantra of sex, drugs and rock and roll was first coined and really meant something. An obsessive recorder and note taker, Robinson has distilled her hundreds of hours of interviews with legend after legend into bite sized-stories, through it all successfully negotiating the balancing act between fan and journalist with a circus performer's aplomb, a trick she continues as an editor at Vanity Fair. To her credit, she doesn't come off as salacious when she's recounting anecdotes; instead, her voice is more like that of a fan girl who, as she said about the Clash, happened to be there at the right place at the right time.

To give you a flavor of what to expect, here's a short quiz on some of Robinson's most tantalizing tales.

1. Who said: "There really is no reason to have women on tour, unless they've got a job to do. The only other reason is to fuck. Otherwise they get bored; they just sit around and moan. It would be different if they did everything for you like answer the phone, make breakfast, look after the clothes and the packing, see if the car was ready - and fuck."

a) Robert Plant
b) Mick Jagger
c) Eminem
d) Lady Gaga

2. Who is described as "sitting in the dark, on a sofa in a corner suite at New York's Plaza Hotel in 1975 with a cadaverous David Bowie by his side watching the same 15 minutes of Kenneth Anger's Lucifer Rising over and over again -- snorting line after line of cocaine."

a) John Lennon
b) Jimmy Page
c) Rod Steward
d) Lou Reed

3. When invited to a performance by Leonard Cohen who said: "Lets run through it tossing Quaaludes around to liven up the place."

a) Keith Richards
b) Patti Smith
c) Robert Plant
d) David Bowie

4. Who said "Everything's kind of a joke with us. You can't take things too seriously or it doesn't pay to live.

a) Madonna
b) Rod Stewart
c) Joey Ramone
d) Debbie Harry

5. Who was sorry to have said bad things about Elton John in interviews and told him that he/she masturbated to his records.

a) Lady Gaga
b) Madonna
c) Patti Smith
d) Michael Jackson

6. Who said: "I can't stand all that hard driving rock, all those butch singers, screaming. I'd rather be a wimp than that. I hate them all."

a) Eddie Van Halen
b) Joe Strummer
c) Dr. Dre
d) Bono

7. Despite Robinson's general bonhomie, one person stands as her least favorite, someone she dislikes for being rude, crude, humorless and wanting to use music to "rule the world."

a) Lady Gaga
b) Bono
c) Madonna
d) Yoko

Answers: b,b,c,c,c,b,c

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