"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
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 other
receivables 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
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,
"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
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
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
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,
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
"I sure did, Alan, how did that happen?"
happen? We don't live in Massachusetts. I don't
anybody who lives in Massachusetts. This did not come from
our end. It most definitely came from yours.
"Look at it from Mick's point of view, Gil. He's in Bombay. He doesn't
anything yet about Long View Farm, and all of a sudden
he's in a no-win situation with a politician. If he
fund-raiser, he alienates this guy's enemies, if he
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
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
"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.