"Two seventh graders from the North Brookfield junior high school. One's twelve, the other thirteen. Both girls. All Mick's idea."
"It's astonishing, Gil. We were just talking about this with Mick last night, just before rehearsal, and he agrees that it's different this time — that we've tapped into a whole new market almost — in addition to the old one."
Alan and I were "working the chain" down at the bottom of the drive. It was a warm and pleasant summer's afternoon, and there were cars coming by on Stoddard Road. That means it was a weekday; because on the weekends we had the road blocked off at the bottom and the top by sawhorses and police cars.
"How so, Alan?"
"The young ones mostly. Three years ago, in 1978, when we were using your illustrious competitor studio in Woodstock to rehearse in, it wasn't anything like this. Wasn't anything like this at all. Mainly in respect of the younger demographics — we're getting the bubble gum set now. The preteens. That never happened before, even in the best of times. Thirteen year olds, Gil. Can you imagine!
"Some of it I can understand," Alan continued. "Young people in their twenties — they've got to acknowledge that the Stones exist, and to buy their records. They're obliged to, almost, because it's the last genuine rock 'n' roll band on the face of the earth — quite apart from their opinions about the music. So it doesn't surprise me that we have this group. We always have.
"Next group up — those in their thirties and forties. I can understand them, too. They were young, most of them, when the Stones first hit — all your dyed-in-wool Stones fans, Chubby Checker fans, Buddy Holly fans, and so forth — they're all in this group. So, fair enough, I can see that we would continue to draw them, too. These people remember the beginnings. There are considerations of nostalgia operating here.
"Even those older still — late-middle age sorts. That makes some sense, too. These were the people who went out and bought and paid for the television sets which their kids used to see the Stones on the Ed Sullivan Show in '64, and so they're still there as a friendly presence, even if not as a market — although it's difficult to say just where one ends and the other begins.
"But what I can't understand, Gil, and what Mick can't understand either, is the teenage demographics — all ten years of it. These kids don't owe us anything. You'd expect them to be against the band as they're generally against a lot of things, just out of the joy of being 'con,' if you know what I mean."
"I know what you mean, Alan," I assured him.
"Well, we've got them again. Not again, no. We've got them for the first time. The Beatles had them, but we never really did. We do now. These kids are buying the album like crazy, we understand. An important element in advance ticket sales to date, also. Just the fact that they know about us is amazing. Can't figure it out. Mick can't either.
"Critical mass, I think," Alan continued. "Makes a critical mass. Add on those extra millions on the top end — Stones fans aren't exactly dying yet by and large — and add on those unexplained millions in the bubble gum set, and you've got a phenomenon that's horizontal across all major age brackets. Bigger than the sum of the parts. 'Pressure Cooker Theory,' Wasserman calls it. And that's what you're seeing here, Gil — the cars, the low-flying helicopters, the Stones watchers sneaking in across the mud at night, just trying to get close. We're at the critical mass — you add one more Stones watcher, and it's as though you added ten."
"Think of what it means for tee-shirts, Alan," I laughed.
"I can assure you we have, Gil. That's what that meeting was all about yesterday, upstairs in Studio B. Only one part of that meeting, I should add. We're discussing other ancillary products as well."
Later that week I learned from Kathleen that Mick had agreed to do an exclusive interview, and would receive the two reporters in the library of the Farmhouse, at teatime, although it was expected that the interview might go longer.
"That's incredible, Kathleen. Hadn't heard anything about this from Wasserman. Let me guess, though. I'm spending half my life talking with these guys on the phone now, it seems. It's Steve Morse, from the Boston Globe."
"Nope," Kathleen said.
"It's the People magazine duo. Wasserman caved in and gave it toPeople."
"Way off," Kathleen said.
"All right, who then?"
"Two seventh graders from the North Brookfield junior high school. One's twelve, the other thirteen. Both girls. All Mick's idea." 1
1 Cf., Appendix C: INTERVIEWING A LEGEND: THRILL OF A LIFETIME.
All original material copyright © Gilbert Scott Markle. All rights reserved.