Lisa Robinson and Keith Richards in New York City, photographed by Bob Gruen

Few people can say they’ve gone on tour with The Rolling Stones and chatted fox-trot and waltz with Mick Jagger. Or had Lady Gaga invite them to a home-cooked meal at her parent’s house — where the singer made the pasta sauce and said grace. Or been the one to introduce David Bowie to Lou Reed and Iggy Pop. Or talked Beatles convention memorabilia with John Lennon (who wanted a lunch box). Vanity Fair contributing editor Lisa Robinson has done all of the above — and scores more. Read all about Lisa’s incredible 40-year career as a music journalist in her book There Goes Gravity and… in our one-on-one interview with the writer here.

Most memorable interview…
Oh, my God. I did 5,000. I can’t pick one. The one with John Lennon, about a month or so before he was murdered, was pretty intense because he was talking about dying and how people would review him differently if he were dead. And there was Michael Jackson talking about being guilted into going on tour with his brothers. Lady Gaga talking about guys. Conversations with Keith Richards, Mick Jagger… There are just too many.

And the one I wish I could still do…
Prince. I mean, we’ve talked, I’ve spent time with him and gone to a party at his house and stuff like that, but we’ve never done anything in depth. He doesn’t let you tape-record him. He doesn’t give people that kind of access.

Musician most unlike his/her public persona… 
Probably Keith Richards. Prior to the publication of his memoir, everyone just assumed he was some sort of out-of-it junky. I would say he’s one of the most brilliant and fun… well, he’s always been that, but he was messed up on drugs for years. When he got clean, I got to really know him. He’s witty, brilliant, funny and shy. 

And by shy I mean..
Shy, socially. He’s got a tremendous amount of swagger, obviously — he’s perfected that persona — but has a wonderful way of avoiding people, swirling around and getting out of a room easily. When you get to know him, and you can really sit down and talk to him, he’s just fabulous. 

I was most surprised by… 
It’s hard to say. Having been born and brought up in Manhattan, and sneaking out at age 12 to see jazz musicians, I considered myself a pretty sophisticated girl; nobody intimidated me. Even when I met Mick Jagger, for example, the first thing I said to him was that his shoes were tacky. 

But if I really had to pick someone…
Maybe Eminem. He has such a poker face and is so deadpan but has a funny sense of humor once you key into it. Same with Jay Z. They’re very guarded at first, but once you get through, the flood gates open and they’re very talkative. Lady Gaga — I was expecting some sort of science-fiction character, but she turned out to be incredibly warm and passionate and just this girl from New York.

I store my recorded interviews…
Well, this is the problem. I had 5,000 cassettes on my shelf in my apartment and, finally last year, we thought we’d better digitize them. So my husband Richard has been putting the interviews into a database on the computer and doing two CD backups of every single one. 

And my memorabilia… 
I have six storage spaces. I have tons and tons of my notes, papers, memorabilia, posters, t-shirts, press releases, bios, photos from the various magazines we edited… all from the last 40 years. I’ve been spending a fortune housing this stuff. I’m going to sell it. 

One anecdote I had to cut from the book…
There’s so much! I mean, I toured with Van Halen, Aerosmith, The Who. I’ve talked to everyone from Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young to Joni Mitchell and Linda Ronstadt. I have 5,000 interviews and there are only 10 chapters in the book. I have to figure out what I’m going to do…

My next book…
Is all about women in rock and roll. Because in There Goes Gravity, I did a little on Patti Smith, Chrissie Hynde and Lady Gaga, but I have thousands of interviews with women who didn’t make it in: Dusty Springfield, Tina Turner, Diana Ross and Aretha Franklin up to Katy Perry, Florence Welch and St. Vincent. There’s a theme with women in rock and roll that I’ve been privy to. They’ve all told me their deepest secrets, their problems with men and juggling their careers…

My interview style…
I just have a conversation; I don’t do interviews with a capital I. Being chatty and able to gossip with these musicians… that opened a door to them being very comfortable with me. I was not judging them, I was not a critic asking them to analyze their lyrics.

And my interviewing advice…
You just have to let the person talk, leave yourself open and don’t be so worried about getting all your questions in. You’ll get a money line. The best interviews are the ones when you don’t know where it’s going.

In my spare time…
I watch basketball. I’m obsessed.

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