Thursday December 08, 2016

Canadian DJ Red Robinson shares stories of meeting rock 'n' roll's greatest

Red Robinson with Buddy Holly

Red Robinson with Buddy Holly (Rolly Ford for the Red Robinson Collection)

Listen 12:39

Red Robinson was one of the first DJs to play rock 'n' roll on Canadian radio. Based out of Vancouver, Robinson has collected some interesting stories over decades in the business and his biography, Red Robinson: The Last DJ, published this year, shares the highlights of his career.

Robinson began playing rock 'n' roll regularly on the radio while he was still in high school back in 1954. He has met everyone from the Beatles to Roy Orbison. Robinson explains that DJs and musicians used to have a very close connection: "It was just a time when we were all friends because they needed us and we needed them." After a Buddy Holly and the Crickets show featuring the Everly Brothers, Robinson says, "we just went down the street on Georgian and had a hamburger." You can't do that today and that's what he misses the most.

Red Robinson with The Beatles

Red Robinson with The Beatles (Bill Cunningham for the Red Robinson Collection)

Red Robinson with Roy Orbison

Red Robinson with Roy Orbison (Craig Hodge for the Red Robinson Collection)

Robinson says the most impressive artist he has ever met was Elvis Presley. "I had such a great relationship with him," he admits. Robinson shares the story of when Presley played a practical joke on him in the change room before a show at Vancouver's Empire Stadium that had him locked up in cuffs.

Red Robinson with Elvis Presley

Red Robinson with Elvis Presley (Rolly Ford for the Red Robinson Collection)

"There's a magic to it in my mind," says Robinson of putting on a radio show, "when I see the lights, I see the microphones, the headset, I've got the whole thing in my mind even after I've left the station."