"I've got no time for chit-chat this time around," Alan said, ominously. "Gil, I think you've blown it."

    Two table saws running simultaneously make a substantial noise. Add to that two skill saws, and the pounding of half a dozen hammers, the beeping of the horn of a large flatbed trailer delivering wood, the coxswain shouts of three ambitious supervisors, and the buzzings of several thousand North Brookfield barn flies, and you've got one hell of a racket. 
    And so they had to grab me by the elbow, and pull me aside and into the relative quiet of the control room of Studio B, to tell me that I had a long-distance telephone call. 
    "Alan Dunn, Gil. For you." 
    "Great," I thought, "Alan's back from England." This was now about ten days after Keith Richards had left Long View Farm at the end of an apparently successful inspection visit. And during those ten days we had worked a minor miracle in the loft of our large Red Barn. We were running two and sometimes three shifts — around the clock. There were between twenty and thirty people working in the barn at any one time. Add on the suppliers of occasional services, materials, equipment, and the like, and you've got several hundred people involved, already. And we'd only just started. 
    One thing seemed clear even this early on — we weren't going to get rich on this project. What looked earlier to be a ten or a twenty-thousand dollar investment in the barn now appeared low — perhaps very low, as an estimate. We were looking at between two and three times that amount, and the final details concerning the costs of finishing, appointments, furniture, etc., had not yet been reckoned with. Fortunately, EMI-America had just paid us the balance of money owed on the J. Geils project, Freeze Frame,and a couple of otherreceivables — which I had never expected to see, ever — also came in. I don't know what we would have done otherwise. As it was, we were still playing the float with the bank each weekend, and there were some people working for nothing, or on a deferred payment basis. 
    The energy level in the construction area was astounding. People were starting earlier than they had agreed to, taking short coffee breaks or no coffee breaks at all, and were staying, some of them, well on into the night. Wives were coming by — pitching in, many of them, to help. Little children were dragging about small pieces of insulation, small boards, and handfuls of nails, playing with each other, and watching their daddies work — sometimes on scaffolding far above their heads. 
    We had, of course, told these people that the band arriving on the seventeenth of August was the Rolling Stones. We had told them point blank that the Rolling Stones were coming. We had little choice in the matter. We couldn't have gotten the work done otherwise. Confidentiality was nevertheless understood. On the job, there was scarcely any talk of the Rolling Stones, or of the members of the band, or of any of the details of the gig. Half the fun was being secret about it. True, a ripple of excitement would go through the carpenter contingent every time that WAAF — the local FM station — would launch into a Rolling Stones "six-pack," but that was about the extent of any formal acknowledgment, within the ranks, that the Stones were on their way. 
    Naturally, there were leaks. It turns out that the four fellows who put the carpet down in Keith Richards' eventual living room were spreading the word throughout nearby Spencer. Some people were still calling me from New York City, with congratulations on my "coup." How these people found out the Stones were coming to Long View I don't know. But they knew, and they were telling people. Chris Kimsey, an old friend who had worked on several occasions at Long View Farm, and who had produced the recent and much touted Stones album, Tattoo You, called me from England to wish me well and to give me a few hints concerning the gig. I think he heard about it from Ian Stewart, but I'm not sure. 
    One very dangerous close call occurred with WAAF, the radio station. They telephoned one day for a routine confirmation from me that the Stones were in point of fact coming to rehearse at Long View Farm. The radio station was ready to use this information on the air, starting immediately. It was Dave Bernstein who called me, delighted that this event was going to transpire in the Worcester area, and not, say, Boston. 
    "People don't realize it, Gil, but WAAF is reaching as many people in the Boston area as a lot of Boston stations are. It's been years that we've been treated as also-rans — as an upstart new wave station to the west of Boston. Thank goodness that's going to stop now. We're all very appreciative, Gil. Tune in in a half-hour or so and watch how we handle it. This'll knock their socks off in Beantown." 
    "Dave," I stammered. "You just can't do it. You can't say anything about the Stones on the air." 
    "Whaddayamean, Gil, it's news. I've got my news people to deal with, and they're a fairly idealistic bunch. For them, news is news. We have to go with it." 
    "Dave, if you do, the gig is almost certainly not going to happen. The fact of the matter is, it's not sure that the Stones are coming to Long View Farm. They are looking us over, that much I can tell you, off the record. But one of the things they're evaluating is the question of privacy, solitude, and our ability to control the local media on their behalf. You breathe one word about Mick Jagger coming to Long View, and you'll turn this whole area into a circus. I'm having trouble enough as it is, trying to keep the people who are working here under control. So far, so good. But if you go on the radio with it, it's all over but the shouting. We'll fall under siege, from the media and the general public alike, and then they'll not come, for sure. So that's what you should tell your news director. That the news won't happen, if you say even so much as a word about it. Then there'll be nothing, for anybody. Not for us, not for you, and not for your news director, either. We've got to let this gig happen first, then we'll see what we can arrange. 
    That worked, and that's the approach I was to use repeatedly in the days to follow, with great success. The fact of the matter is, that when the Stones finally did arrive on the seventeenth of August, there was scarcely a news bureau, newspaper, radio station, or TV station, which had not been clued in. Not by us, but by word of mouth. They would each call me for a confirmation, and I would handle them just as I handled Dave Bernstein. Nobody wanted to have it said of their radio station, or their newspaper, that they had been the ones to prevent the Rolling Stones from coming to the area. 
    "Hi, Alan," I said, "welcome back to the States. Howya been?" 
    "I've got no time for chit-chat this time around," Alan said, ominously. "Gil, I think you've blown it." 
    "What do you mean, blown it?" 
    "You may have blown the gig. Leaks, Gil. Publicity leaks. I thought I fully explained to you how important absolute secrecy was going to be. Well, apparently I did not speak clearly enough. Let me tell you what happened the night before last. I got a phone call from Mick. I think he was in Paris then, on his way back from Bombay. Very angry and put out, I might add. It seems Mick got a cable in Bombay, just before leaving. I'm not at liberty to tell you who it was from, except to say it was from one of the highest ranking political personalities in the United States. I'll give you a hint, the gentleman involved lives in your Commonwealth of Massachusetts. In any case, Mick gets a cable from this gentleman's office, welcoming Mick to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and entreating his appearance at a fund-raiser for crippled orphans — a program apparently sponsored by the man's office, and a cause dear to him. Next, he goes on to say that he's willing to do his best to ensure that Mick's stay in Massachusetts is as safe and as uneventful as he, Mick, might require. Did you get that, Gil?" 
    "I sure did, Alan, how did that happen?" 
    "How did that happen? We don't live in Massachusetts. I don't knowanybody who lives in Massachusetts. This did not come fromour end. It most definitely came from yours. 
    "Look at it from Mick's point of view, Gil. He's in Bombay. He doesn't even know anything yet about Long View Farm, and all of a sudden he's in a no-win situation with a politician. If he goes to the fund-raiser, he alienates this guy's enemies, if he doesn't go, then there's some doubt about the safety and quiet he might enjoy during his stay there with you. Either way, it's no-win for him. You've got to understand, Mick likes to stay out of scrapes like that, or in any case be in total control of them. Had to be someone you told, Gil. You told someone that the Stones were coming to Long View Farm, and that person did you a disservice — a real disservice. Now I don't know what the implications of this will be. I shall do my very best when I next meet with Mick, upon his return to New York City. In the meanwhile, I'm instructing you to keep your mouth shut, and to tell your people to keep their mouths shut, and to say nothing more illuminating to the media than 'no comment.' Tell them simply that you have 'no comment.'
    "Further, I'm taking the liberty of asking our attorney and accountant, Mr. Joe Rascoff, to call you, and to dictate to you some additional language concerning the confidentiality of information to which you may become party. You should insert this language immediately into the agreement and send me the amended version. Maybe that'll cool him out some." 
    "Joe?" I asked. 
    "No," Alan replied, "Mick." 
    "I'm warning you, Gil, don't you let anything like that happen again." Then he hung up.


 All original material copyright © Gilbert Scott Markle. All rights reserved.