During the nineteen-forties and early nineteen-fifties, the most famous nightclub in New York City wasn't in New York City at all, but across the George Washington Bridge on top of the Palisades under a big neon sign which read "Bill Miller's Riviera". Frank Sinatra and all the other rat-packers would appear there regularly, in the company of mobsters. Gil Markle, Sr. was asked on at least one occasion to show up there as an assistant engineer in service of Sinatra, with whom he had a thin, fledgling relationship. This would have been easy for him to do, since he was living with his wife and three children just a few miles down Rt. 9W, in Palisades Park. He didn't do the gig, for reasons I was too young at the time to understand.
Bill Miller also had three children: two daughters, Judith and Susan, and a son, Jimmy. When they were in their early teens, their father's famous nightclub was demolished in order to make way for the Palisades Parkway, ending an era. The father went on to even bigger and better things, moving to Las Vegas in 1954 and becoming the entertainment director of the Sahara, Dunes, Flamingo and International hotels.
Jimmy stayed behind, and became a professional musician. It was only a few years later that he (a drummer) and Larry Fallon (a piano player) would perform regularly in The Oasis — a bar in Fort Lee on the corner of Rt. 9W and the access road leading to the then spanking new Palisades Parkway. The establishment was just a long stone's throw from the former site of Bill Miller's Riviera. Gil Markle Sr.'s two sons, Gil and Bill, were friends with Jimmy Miller at the time, and would often visit with Jimmy in the bar, sometimes in the company of Gary Wright, a classmate of Bill's.
Jimmy Miller went to England in the early sixties, and became friends with the wealthy Chris Blackwell, whose hobby was making rock 'n' roll records. Miller would produce records for Blackwell, and then for other artists independently, including The Spencer Davis Group, Traffic, Savage Rose, Gary Wright and Wright's band Spooky Tooth, Blind Faith, and the Rolling Stones.
Gil Markle (Jr.) would "hang" with Wright and Miller in London during the mid and late nineteen sixties, and it was during these visits that his plans for the Long View Farm recording studio took shape.
It was Jimmy Miller's stewardship of the Rolling Stones during the late sixties and early seventies which earned him the reputation of being one of the most influential rock 'n' roll record producers of the twentieth century. It also burnt him out physically and emotionally, and he would die a disappointed and broken man in 1994, back in the United States.
Judith Miller, one of the two sisters, ended up as an aggressive and highly career-motivated writer for The New York Times. It was in that position at the turn of the century that she wrote a series of articles which — apparently intentionally — mis-stated the possession by Iraq of weapons of mass destruction. These articles were eagerly seized upon by the Bush administration, and widely referred to as justification for the invasion of that country in 2003. It has been suggested that Judith Miller is the U.S. civilian — not then in direct government service — who was most responsible for the Iraq war.
Judith Miller spent a brief time in prison, unwilling to give testimony which might have tended to (further) incriminate the Assistant to the President and the Vice President's Chief of Staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, in connection with the illegal "outing" of a CIA operative, Valerie Plame Wilson, this in apparent punishment for her husband's debunking, in part, of Judith Miller's articles in the New York Times.
I wonder, had the peaceful soul Jimmy Miller not died in 1994, but lived on long enough to talk some sense into the head of his little sister, if the Iraq war would have ever occurred.
All original material copyright © Gilbert Scott Markle. All rights reserved.