80 years on, legendary rock DJ Red Robinson still doing what he loves

80 years on, legendary rock DJ Red Robinson still doing what he loves

He interviewed the Beatles. He hung out backstage with Elvis. He called Johnny Cash his friend.

But after an almost-60-year career as a broadcaster, show promoter and advocate for rock and roll, the legendary Red Robinson still loves finding out what makes big stars tick.

"I find them fascinating," he said. "How did they get to where they are? That's the whole thing. I go down that trail with them, and they fill in the blanks. It's amazing."

The City of Vancouver has declared March 30 Red Robinson day in honour of his 80th birthday. Over those storied 80 years, Robinson brought some of the biggest acts of the '50s and '60s to Vancouver — and he still hosts a weekly radio show to this day.

A career launched by a prank call

But Robinson's prolific career might not have happened at all if not for a prank call he made to Al Jordan of CJOR as a kid.

Jimmy Stewart was in town to film a movie, so Robinson called in to Jordan's show pretending to be Stewart. Listen to him tell the story — including the Jimmy Stewart impression — to Early Edition host Rick Cluff:

Robinson says it's been hard in recent years as so many of his famous friends pass away — Chuck Berry being the most recent.

"It's like somebody took a piece of your body and destroyed it," he said. "I knew these people. They were special."

But in addition to reflection, today is also a day for celebration — Robinson is looking forward to the birthday party his wife has planned for him this evening.

That positive attitude may well be what has kept him in the business of rock and roll that burns out so many talented people so quickly.

"It's nothing I planned," Robinson said of his career. "I just decided I love this, and I'm going to do everything I can while I'm here."

"I think that's the attitude you [have to] have, and you just keep going."

Listen to the full Early Edition interview below:

With files from CBC Radio One's The Early Edition.