Rob Barnett


Rob heard another phone pick up out at Long View. "Go ahead, Rob, we're listening."

    Rob Barnett says he dragged himself into his Worcester apartment at 5:30 AM. It was already light out, and Rob had been up all night, outside in the damp and the cold, and he was very tired. He fell quickly into a deep and dreamless sleep, which lasted only until 5:45 AM, when his phone rang. 
    "Rob, is that Rob Barnett? It's Stu, Rob, and I'm here with Mick Jagger. It's important that we speak with you. Wake up." 
    Rob woke up, quickly. 
    Rob Barnett was the Music Director at WAAF, the radio station in Worcester, and had closely followed the movements of the Rolling Stones, and of Mick Jagger in particular, for over six weeks. Together with his colleague, Dave Bernstein, Barnett had been quickly sworn to secrecy, by me, and they saw to it that no mention of the Stones' exact location — Long View Farm — made it onto the air until long after the fact had become common knowledge. It was Rob who had staked out the Worcester Airport the day Mick flew to Philadelphia in the Twin, tape recorder at the ready, hoping for an interview. 
    "Rob," I said, once Mick had taken off, "I can't help you with this. I can't prevent you from going up to the man, and asking him, but I'm simply not permitted to set up things like this on his behalf." 
    So Rob did just that — waited until Mick got back from his press conference in Philadelphia — walked up to him, and asked him for an interview. 
    "O.K.," Mick said. "I suppose so. But not before this gentleman shows me to the little boys' room." 
    "This way, Mick," I said, laughing to myself that I should be so regularly called upon to serve in this capacity. "This way." Mick emerged promptly from the Men's Room, and then, much to Rob Barnett's delight, started talking into the tape machine. 
    During the course of the interview, which WAAF aired scarcely 15 minutes later, Mick got to tell his version of the tennis court incident; namely, that he most emphatically did not distribute any drugs to children on the streets of North Brookfield, and that it never would have occurred to him to do so. 
    Rob was very pleased with his interview, distributed it widely among sister FM stations across the nation, and developed the temerity over the days which followed to broach a further plan whereby WAAF would help distribute the tickets to any eventual surprise club showing of the Stones in the area; say at Sir Morgan's Cove. 
    Ian Stewart was intrigued by Barnett's suggestions, and met frequently with him and Barnett's colleagues at the Paxton Inn midway between Worcester and North Brookfield — hammering out details. First of all they rejected the plan which called for the handing out of tickets at Sir Morgan's Cove itself — say at midnight on the Saturday night preceding the Monday night surprise performance — to all customers who happened to be present. It was Stones fans they wanted to get to, not to the fans of whichever band happened to be playing at the Cove that particular Saturday night. 
    Also rejected was the record store handout proposal, according to which each purchaser of the album "Tattoo You" would also get a ticket, or tickets, to the surprise show. They'd be fans all right, but there'd be virtually no control over what happened once the tickets got split up among the record stores in the area or when the record stores ran out of albums. Also, disturbances might occur in the shopping malls among those fans who didn't understand the rules, or who disapproved of them. 
    Barnett's idea, which was brazen in its aggressive posturing of his radio station, WAAF, was to give out the tickets late Monday, just a few hours before the show, to people either wearing a WAAF tee-shirt, or showing off a WAAF bumper sticker on their car. Stu was taken by this proposal, and thought it would work. 
    "I'm awake," Rob said. "You say that Mick's there with you?" 
    "Most certainly is. Just got through practicing up in the barn, you know, and nobody's quite ready to go to sleep yet. We want to discuss the radio announcements scheduled for today and tomorrow." 
    Rob most assuredly did know that the Stones had just finished practicing up in the barn. He knew from personal experience that they had just finished, having spent the night down in Stanley's cow pasture, rubbing his hands to keep warm, and avoiding the cow patties as best he could, which was not very well. He heard, "Hang Fire," "You Can't Always Get What You Want," "Miss You," "Tops," and "Waiting on You" from a quarter of a mile away, and was thrilled. So were scores of other Stones watchers who had picked this Saturday night to infest Stanley's property — some keeping a respectful distance from Long View; others attempting to penetrate the perimeter established by Long View and Stones security staff, in order to get as close as they possibly could. The studio log shows that two Stones watchers were delivered to Police Chief Harvey Thomasian that night, apprehended in the live acoustic chamber under the barn, a stolen microphone in each hand. Two others were pulled off the side of the barn, attempting to scale it as human flies, but these were apologetic and allowed to return to the pasture below. 
    "Mick has two remarks, Rob, and then we think you'll be all set to go, per our meeting earlier today. " 
    "What are they?" Rob asked, scrambling for a pencil. 
    "First of all, Mick feels that you should take out the 'on behalf of the Rolling Stones.' A little dicey, that one is. Also... wait a minute, Rob. What, Mick... ?" 
    Mumble, mumble. 
    "Also, Rob, and this is most important, Mick wants the announcement to be read in a low-key and normal tone of voice. Got that? Low key. Normal. We don't want people getting upset, or anything like that. You still there, Rob?" 
    "Yes, sir!" Rob snapped. "Got it all. Steve will have to re-cut the two announcements, since we did them today — I mean yesterday — like you said to, but he'll just have to do it, that's all there is to it. So why don't I read the Monday announcement back to you now, with all the changes? This is the one which tells them how to get the tickets." 
    "Go ahead, Rob." 
    Rob heard another phone pick up out at Long View. 
    "Go ahead, Rob, we're listening." 
    "O.K., it goes like this: For some time now, WAAF has been telling you that the Rolling Stones would be adding dates to their 1981 tour of the United States. Now we can tell you that tonight the Rolling Stones will be playing in a low-key informal gig somewhere in New England, andWAAF will be distributing all of the tickets to tonight's show. Here's how you can get yours: WAAF will be on the streets in and around Worcester, giving away the tickets to tonight's Rolling Stones gig. We'll approach onlythose people who are over 20 and are wearing a WAAFT-shirt or who have a WAAF bumper sticker visible on their car or their body. Our staff will be in unmarked cars and plain clothes. If we approach you, we'll ask for a photo I.D. because tickets are not transferable to prevent scalping. Once again, here's how you can get tickets to tonight's Rolling Stones gig: WAAF and representatives of the Stones will be on the streets in and around Worcester giving away the tickets. We'll approach only those people who are over 20 and wearing a WAAF T-shirt or who have a bumper sticker visible on their car or their body. We'll be in unmarked cars and plain clothes. We'll be on the streets this afternoon giving away tickets up until seven o'clock tonight. Do not call or come to WAAF... the tickets are already on their way to you. 
    "So how's that?" Rob asked. 
    There was a long silence at the other end of the phone, out in North Brookfield, broken finally by Ian Stewart. "Rob, we think that will do very nicely. Very nicely, indeed. Just don't forget what I said about the normal tone of voice, and everything will be just fine." 
    The announcement was first read at 6:20 AM, Monday morning, 14 September, by Dave Bernstein on WAAF. And that was the day the city of Worcester took off work. .


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