Shield & Diamond
SHIELD & DIAMOND
of Pi Kappa Alpha
AND ON HIS FARM HE HAD THE
Alumni Notes & Personalities
It wasn't Old McDonald's Farm, to be sure, but Long View Farm that hosted the Rolling Stones for six weeks last year.
And the proprietor of that 150-acre, seemingly serene pastureland in central Massachusetts is a real-life engineer/professor/entrepreneur anything but a farmer whose touch of gold would make even Midas envious.
Dr. Gilbert Scott Markle, Gamma Tau (RPI), is that host with the most who even the Stones turned to for satisfaction.
Long View, as it turns out, belies its image the moment one enters its nineteenth century farmhouse into the twenty-first century of electronic sound studios, mixing equipment, computers and other state-of-the-art toys of the music recording industry.
Long View had "arrived" when the Stones rented the spread for practice and recording sessions, just before their last American tour. But it was famous among the music set long before as Markle hosted the likes of The J. Geils Band, Stevie Wonder, John Belushi, Don McClean, Cat Stevens and scores of others for a little "r and r" (recording and relaxation) at its ultimate.
"Sure, the remoteness of the place is a marketing hook," Markle admits. "It has a mystique to groups who come here from all over."
It's a dream-come-true for the forty-two-year-old live-wire, but only the latest in a series of dreams-come-true.
The combination of Brother Markle's intelligence, upbringing (his father was chief engineer for NBC: his mother a singer with Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey), and his personality have paved his golden road to Oz. Perhaps most of all, his personality, exhibited by his response to memories of his Gamma Tau chapter days.
"Concerning Gamma Tau, which was housed at the time in the famous old white house on Burdett, my recollections are of an intensely social and well-rounded bunch of fellows known for their beer, their girlfriends and their well-developed sense of male ego. We were sure we were absolutely right about everything," he adds.
"The only ones ever to contradict us in this regard were the Dekes, who knew they could drink more, and the Lambda Chi's, who suspicioned that both the Dekes and the Pikes were somehow having too good a time. The rest I forget."
But they haven't forgotten him. Fraternity bro Ed Fetz says, "Gil had a knack for making things work. He knows profit and loss ledgers and can be very hard-nosed about debts, plus he has a willingness to take calculated risks in new ventures. Then, too, he was always into rock and roll. He played it constantly at the house on my hi-fi set, besides."
One of those new ventures made him wealthy American Leadership Study Groups (ALSG).
Gil later surrendered a plush, tenured assistant professorship at Clark University, to expand ALSG which he founded a few years earlier on a hunch he got while earning money as a tour guide for students in Paris. He was there studying himself, having earned a Fulbright scholarship after graduating with honors in physics from RPI. While gaining his first of two doctorates (the second from Yale) in France, he was impressed by the travel and educational opportunities abroad which he could make available to American young people. Satisfying that need is today a multi-million dollar venture that he runs out of a posh office in the Worcester Airport.
During the seven years between Yale and Long View, Gil was associate professor of philosophy at Clark and so immensely popular with the students that he won tenure without authoring a book.
"I was a bright, young, but mainly dramatic, bombastic professor who put on a show rather than instructing by the book. I'd been putting on the same show for seven years, and I wanted to do something else. So I took a sabbatical to figure out what that would be."
With money earned from ALSG as well as his work in the travel agent business, he saw and bought "the old Stoddard place," now Long View
Farm, and immediately set about converting it into a state-of-the-art recording studio. With success measured not by earnings, but by association, last year's Stones visit meant Markle had arrived. "I never had to introduce myself anymore," he says. "Everyone had heard about Long View."
Long View's popularity is tied not only to professionalism, in equipment and conduct, but in perks. Cutting albums is painstaking work. Tempers often flare. The formula is to take the musician's mind off routine worries and add relaxation in the form of lounges, sauna, Jacuzzi, horseback riding and complete privacy.
Many thought the brilliant student Gil Markle would become a scientist. Others saw him gloating forever in academe as a celebrated philosopher. Who would have seen him as a successful businessman on Mondays and a superstar in the rock industry on Tuesdays?
But, why leave it at that. Brother Markle is anything but sedentary. He plans to expand Long View into the video field, installing a television studio and a satellite receiver.
Move over, Midas. This golden touch has Markle.