300: Texas Union technician shares background in music

Marisa Charpentier

Since moving to Austin 35 years ago, Michael Robberson has performed with The Rolling Stones, met Spike Lee and set up the Dalai Lama’s mic. 

Robberson, a UT media support technician, started out at Texas Tech, where he received his undergraduate degree in music education and his master’s degree in double bass performance. He moved to Austin in 1980 to play bass for The Joe Ely Band, a country and rock group from Lubbock. 

Robberson traveled with the band for three years. They toured with musicians like Tom Petty and Linda Ronstadt. The band opened for The Rolling Stones in front of a crowd of 80,000 people. 

“I’m basically on a little adventure in this slice-of-life existence,” Robberson said.

Throughout his music career, Robberson has toured with various other bands in Europe, New York and Los Angeles. He’s played with the Austin Symphony and currently plays bass for the Mid-Texas Symphony. He still gets freelance calls to play with bands and performs with a tribute band called The Bee Gees Songbook.

When he decided he needed a stable job in 1985, Robberson took a position as a media support technician. During his workdays, he sets up sound equipment in the Cactus Cafe, wheels in projection screens and amps for lectures in the Union ballroom and puts on movies for students in the Texas Union Theatre. 

Robberson has seen all types of celebrities come through the Union, and he often chats with them while hooking up their microphones. He’s met Maya Angelou, the Dalai Lama and Gene Kranz, who directed the Mission Control efforts that saved the Apollo 13 crew. He’s spoken with film stars such as George Takei, Richard Dreyfuss and Spike Lee.

“No two days are the same,” Robberson said. “That’s one of the reasons I love this job.”