One Sunday Afternoon
There's no doubt about it. People want to reach out and touch this
phenomenon called the Rolling Stones to touch the hem of the robe,
as it were and the craving is so strong that it overwhelms and
distorts patterns of normal behavior.
That incident with Bennie was typical. I mean, friends and old lovers
and acquaintances and people I didn't even
coming at me in
order to get at the band. It wasn't me; let's face it. It was the
And that's a fairly difficult thing for a guy like me to wrestle with,
since I'd be very happy if it
me that they wanted to see.
Very happy indeed; that's why I counted them friends of mine. And so it
hurt a bit to think that so many of them only counted me as a friend,
too, when the Rolling Stones happened to be staying at my home in North
Please. No tears on my behalf. My feelings weren't
you want to know the truth. A lot of those bastards had it coming to
them dopes from the past, who used to bully me around a bit in the
old days, now that I come to think about it. Screw them.
Also, I'm quick to recognize that some of my
people who would not, for the world, have knowingly made things
difficult for me simply got carried away. Infected by what Kathleen
and I dubbed "Stones Fever." There's no doubt about it. People want to
reach out and touch this phenomenon called the Rolling Stones to
touch the hem of the robe, as it were and the craving is so strong
that it overwhelms and distorts patterns of normal behavior.
You don't get a temperature with Stones Fever; but you act weird. Less
cool, less composed. You suspend other priorities in your life, which
may or may not involve other human beings, and become Stones-focused
instead. You lose track of your manners and sense of decorum. You
forget yourself outright, during intervals. You feel distracted,
compulsive as though driven by some elemental force.
"Stones Fever." That's what it's like. The only possible immunization
process involves intense will power, usually surfacing in the form of a
rabid professionalism. That can keep you from getting Stones Fever, if
you want not to get it. Some people
to get it, of course.
It was filled with churchly reflections such as these that I left Long
View Farm early Sunday morning for the Cape, by airplane. Bennie had
meant me no harm the night before, he just got carried away. Another
cipher in the "Stones Fever" column. I was going to forget about it all
anyway, and try to have some fun down at the beach with Nancy and the
kids. I figured, quite mistakenly, that I might be able to stay a
couple of days or so.
"Monday night?" I shouted over the beach phone to Kathleen. "That's
tomorrow night! I just got here. It's at the Cove, you say?"
"They're trying very hard not to say it's so, Gil, but it's
to be Sir Morgan's. Stu's been in touch with them ever since we made
the visit that night. It's got to involve WAAF, too. Rob Barnett keeps
on calling, and Stu's been buying him meals at the Paxton Inn."
"So should I come back, Kathleen?"
"Oh, no, Gil. Oh, no, I'm doing fine, I mean really fine. I think. Hold
on, I've got to put you on 'hold.'"
As soon as Kathy put me on "hold", I put
on "hold", and
called pilot Bob Adams requesting a near immediate pickup at the
Provincetown Airport. "You just
there," Bob said, "and I just
got the airplane put away."
"Well I still need you to come down again. Can you?"
"You got it, Gil."
"See you then, Bob," I said, punching back the blinking button which
was Kathleen on "hold", but Kathleen wasn't there; only the
was the one still on "hold". A full minute
"O.K., Gil," I hear, "where were we?"
"I was saying how I was coming back this afternoon, and how I needed a
pickup at Worcester at, say, four o'clock."
"No problem, Gil. Bennie just called you. He said to say 'Thanks for
the hospitality.' Don't know what he means by that, but that's what the
"I know what that's about, Kathy."
"Oh," Kathleen said. "Also, call Bob Connolly, 791-3242. That's his
home telephone number."
"Didn't say. I thought you knew who he was. That's the way he talked,
in any case. He says it's important, so do what you want."
"I'll call him from the airplane, Kathleen, which I'm not going to meet
on time unless we cut this short. See you later."
"See you later, Gil."
And I did call this fellow Bob Connolly, just as soon as we were
airborne, and only seconds before the Twin disappeared into the thick
cloud cover which had already brought rain to the states of Ohio and
Pennsylvania, and which would make tomorrow, Monday, a very rainy day
in Worcester County.
"This is Gil Markle, Bob. Returning your phone call."
"That's good of you, Gil. I'm a reporter for the
and I'd like your confirmation of the Stones' plan to play
a surprise concert at Sir Morgan's Cove tomorrow night, Monday."
"I can't do that, Bob," I said. "For one thing, I don't
speak for the
band on such matters. And for another thing, I don't know. I simply
don't know whether or not they're playing anywhere, or when. I really
"You're saying it's the Cove, but you can't be quoted as saying that?"
"No, Bob, I really don't know whether or not it's the Cove. But I can
tell you this. It's Sunday now, and you're looking for a gig at the
Cove, or in one of three or four other places, tomorrow night. You
shouldn't have too much trouble figuring this out. I'd go down there if
I were you to Green Street and see what you can see. If the
Rolling Stones are playing there tomorrow night, I'd bet you'd be
seeing some signs of activity, even now. And you could judge for
"I hear you, Gil. I was hoping you'd say something like that. Thanks."
"Call me back when you find out, Bob," I shouted back over the
air-to-ground telephone, bumping along in the clouds toward Worcester.
"I'd really like to know myself."
"I'll let you know, Gil." Bob Connolly said, and we signed off.
"Air-to-ground Operator. Do you wish to make another call, sir?"
"I do, Operator. Same QM number. Number calling, Area Code 617; number:
867-7050." This was the number most likely to be free at Long View.
Miracle of miracles; it rang. Jesse Henderson answered. "Hello, Long
View," Henderson began.
"Jesse. It's Gil. Listen, I'm in the airplane. Just broke out of the
clouds. Let's see, what's down there... where are we... "
"Should be just about over the Farm, Gil," Pilot Bob Adams shouted back
through the partition.
"Jesse," I shouted. "We're just over the reservoir, headed directly at
you over Stanley's farm. Low. About five hundred feet. See us?"
"No, Gil. But if you're over Stanley's, check out the sound
reinforcement system, the platform, and the young rock 'n' roll band
playing down there. Stanley rented them the space for the afternoon, I
Adams threw the Twin into a tight bank, my wing down. Beneath me I saw
a rock 'n' roll band playing on a platform using what seemed to be a
very large sound system. "See them, Jesse," I spoke through the phone.
"Friends of Stephen Jo Bladd's son. Steven was here, to see Charlie
Watts. He was embarrassed by it all. Couldn't believe it. I think
Steve's gone now."
"And how are the distinguished guests taking it? I mean, the band
playing down there and making a lot of noise. They're still playing. I
can see them."
"You bet they are. I can hear them. Can hear
now, too, Gil.
That last pass brought you nearly overhead. No one seems to mind, to
answer your question about the band. They're playing Stones tunes.
Keith's out on the deck now, laughing over it. Mick's outside the
Farmhouse on the porch, and he's laughing, too. So I wouldn't worry
"We'll do one more pass, and then back to Worcester, Jesse. This time
we'll come right overhead." Bob Adams heard me, and took the plane out
of its circle over Stanley's farmhouse and headed straight toward Long
View. Once again, he stood the airplane on its wing, just over the
porch, and there on the porch was Mick and Prince Rupert, and they were
both laughing. Mick pointed up at the 75 X-Ray, as we roared overhead.
"That's it, Jesse," I continued into the telephone. "See you in
"See you, Gil. We're breaking down the gear tonight after rehearsal.
The whole lot of it. The whole setup. Everything into the truck for the
gig tomorrow night."
"At the Cove, Jesse?"
"Yeah, Gil. Sir Morgan's. It's at Sir Morgan's."
Bob pointed the airplane back toward Worcester, and I hung up the
sky-phone. The gig was at Sir Morgan's Cove. Bob Connolly was right.