I'm a Stones fan. That's the first thing you need to know before reading this book.
Second, you need to know that I'm a trained philosopher. Two PhD's. Seems I spent half my life in college, and then the university. I taughtPhilosophy for many years — first as an Assistant atYale University, finally as a tenured Associate Professor at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts. That was years ago, of course. But I still have a philosopher's brain, and am always trying to "figure out what's really going on," under the surface of things. That's basically what philosophers do.
Finally, you should know that I'm a businessman. Some people call me an "entrepreneur," although all that seems to mean, when you come down to it, is that I don't work for anybody else, but for myself instead. Big deal. My most recent business undertaking has involved Long View Farm, a residential and somewhat glamorous rock 'n' roll recording studio in the hills of Central Massachusetts. I own it.
Here's how all this concerns you. Last summer — the summer of 1981 — the Rolling Stones came to Long View Farm in order to prepare for and rehearse their long-awaited and possibly last concert tour of the United States. That event found me — Gil Markle — the right guy, in the right place, at the right time. I don't have to explain to you that the odds against finding a philosophically trained Stones fan posing as a rock impresario — one who just happened to be called upon to host the Rolling Stones for a two-month period — are very high indeed. On the basis of odds alone, it's much more tempting to believe that these things never happened to me at all. But they did, and I took notes as I went, and when my friends finally said to me, "Gil, why don't you write a book?" I had my answer fully prepared. I would.
This is the book that resulted: a collection of fifty or so essays on the general subject of people and power, and the ways in which lives turn topsy-turvy whenever they are drawn into the long shadow of a living myth. That's what the Rolling Stones are — an active, living myth.
I've used dialogue form whenever possible, in order that you hear the people speaking in their own words. I tried to remember these words as best I could. Couldn't carry a tape recorder, though. They told me not to. So I had to conjure a lot of stuff up out of a memory which is pretty good, but not perfect by a long shot.
Let me confess further that I've changed some names and dates whenever there seemed to be humane reasons for doing so, and have invented — yes, totally invented — an "Editor" whose name is Bennie Strange. Bennie contributes footnotes to the text whenever I feel that another point of view is required — even one antithetical to my own — and whenever I think that I may have misremembered things a bit in my zeal for essay writing and storytelling. You might say that Bennie's my conscience talking. But he's a literary device only. There's no such person. There. I've said it.
I hope that you enjoy these pages — Stones fans and philosophers alike — and that they quicken in you an appreciation for myth, and for the power it wields within our lives.
This book is about that power.
Black Rock, Tobago .