Artwork above by "the nicest guy in the Rolling Stones," Ronnie Wood.
It was on a winter day in 1977 that Kent Huff was sent down to New York City to
collect the original and priceless Jimi Hendrix two-inch tapes from a vault, and
to return them to the Farm for mixdown. An incredible opportunity, everybody
thought. A real chance for us to put ourselves on the map. Collect the tapes he
did, and then, hoping to take a shortcut back to the Connecticut Turnpike and to
Massachusetts, he found himself in a dilapidated section of the Bronx, well
after dark, at a long red light that didn't want to change. Too late to do
anything about it, Kent sees in his overhead rear-view mirror that the rear gate
of the rented truck has been jimmied open, and that the stack of twelve Jimi
Hendrix two-inch tapes is no longer there. He bails out of the driver's door of
the truck, and sees the twelve boxes of master tapes, each in the arms of a
different would-be basketball player in sneakers, each headed in a
different direction and into the night. On Kent's account of things, he then
pulled the van over onto the sidewalk, to let the honking horns all get by, and
he meditates. He meditates projecting an image of the twelve tapes, stacked neatly in the back of the truck
as they were before. And, then, still on his account of
things, the tapes started to come back. The first one was brought by an
eight-year-old boy in a baseball cap, the second was tossed down from a landing
of a tenement fire escape just across the street, caught safely by an old woman,
and repatriated into Kent's shaking hands. Then the rest came back, appearing
each of them out of the dark in the careful embrace of the would-be basketball
comment or apology of any sort. They were all brought back, and stacked neatly
in the back of the truck, just as they were before the light turned red. The
last guy, apparently a man in command, gave Kent not just the
box of tape, but a high-five, and then a large, hand-rolled cigarette which Kent
later smoked on the Connecticut Turnpike on the way home, contemplating his
strange lot in life, and this place called Long View Farm. No scientific
explanation for Kent's adventure in the Bronx has ever been offered.
Editor's Note: Kent Huff,
reviewing this text thirty years later, has claimed that this telling of the
story is inaccurate in certain respects. Those who have heard Huff's most recent account of that
day's events say that it is more fantastic still.
Kent Huff tells an interesting story about the first visit of
Alan Douglas to Long View Farm. Kent, as is described elsewhere in this
volume, was devoted to clean living, including marijuana, and to all Eastern
religions, and to their mythologies. He read widely on these topics, and would
extract from his readings the names of illustrious figures, and would apply these
at will to persons with whom we would be in contact as the operators of a rock
'n' roll recording studio. "Paja" was one such name, having been the
earlier of a great mover and shaker in the Near East. Kent would use the
name in a random manner, amusing us all, since we knew that it applied to no one
"When's Paja coming?" he asked me one day, in reference to Alan
Douglas. "When's this guy Paja coming?" I replied that we expected him the very
next day. The Jimi Hendrix tapes were up and running, and there were some rough
mixes already "in the can." Alan was due at noon the next day to give a
listen and to contribute his remarks.
And Alan Douglas did in fact arrive the next day. It was Kent
who greeted him on the pea stone driveway in front of the red barn.
"Paja!" he said. "Welcome to Long View Farm, Paja.
Your slightest wish is our cherished command. What may be your first
remarks for us... for us to honor?"
Alan Douglas grimaced. "Listen," he said. "You don't
know me and I don't know you, see? We just met. But you need to get
this straight, and tell this to Markle. I had nothing to do with that
Depaja affair. The money went right through, see. I never touched a penny
of it. All the money went straight through. Where's the men's room?"
Editor's Note: Inquiries made
later to Kent Huff's brother, Steve, who was at the time an attorney working for
the entertainment law firm Pryor, Cashman & Sherman, in New York City, revealed
that Alan Douglas was a party to a civil lawsuit in which a firm "Depaja,"
was the defendant. The lawsuit, as do most lawsuits, had to do with money.
I can remember Alan Douglas in those days. I can remember him in
the control room of Studio "A", in which his tapes were being mixed. Control
Room "A" was a 16-track room in those days. This was before we bought the new
MCI recording console, and the 24-track machines. It was the realm of warm,
fat-sounding 16-track tapes, which could make your socks roll up and down.
Alan would always sit at the center of the board. To his right, typically, would
be engineer Ron St. Germain; to his left, a younger man (who would at other
times be working with Arlo Guthrie) Les Kahn. Alan Douglas would be
looking straight ahead, right between the loudspeakers rigid, intent, and
full of concentration. At these times he would speak, but only very quietly, and having
first lowered his vocal range by an octave. Here's what we would hear, in a very low
and only faintly perceptible voice:
"Hendrix...mumble-grumble...eight, sub...mumble... mac shit..."
The engineers would look at one another, anxiously. There would
be a long pause.
"Say again, Alan. We have to write this down." All eyes
would turn towards the center of the room, and to Alan Douglas. Alan would sigh
impatiently, take a deep breath, and now say in a voice we could all understand:
"Hendrix sucks after the middle eight, substitute MacLaughlin, shitcan
The heads of the two engineers would then swivel forwards, towards the front
of the room, and they would each scribble notes in their steno pads, and then
simultaneously swivel their chairs around 180 degrees to address the tape
machine, razor blades in their hands. Then, applying a chalk mark to the
magnetic tape at the precise point that a recognizable sound passed over the playback head of the
tape machine, they would, one of them, cut the tape with the razor blade,
spilling out inches and feet and sometimes yards of disapproved tape onto the
control room floor. This was not a failsafe
operation by any means, so the discarded tape would be carefully swept up, and
saved, draped over the leather couch in case it had to be recovered.
It was at this point, with the shortened tape patched back together again
on the tape machine, and the reels re-wound to a point somewhat before the edit,
that a full hush would fall over the room. It was time now to hear the edit. You
could hear a pin drop.
"Ready?" Les Kahn would ask. Alan Douglas would nod
in the affirmative, and Les would hit the "Play" button on the tape machine, and
the reels would start spinning. Up would come the sound, filling the room, with all eyes now on the
tape racing from left to right across the transport. It's when the short piece
of white plastic editing tape was
seen streaming across the playback
head of the tape machine that the edit would be heard. There! There it is.
"Well, what-d-ya think?" Les would ask. All eyes would then turn
to Alan, who would remain silent for a second or two. He would at these
times be meditating, and adjusting his voice down the octave.
"Good enough for rock 'n' roll," I heard him say more than once,
presaging for me the use of this same expression by Keith Richards, who would
be sitting in
that same chair, many years later. "Good enough for rock 'n' roll," these
two men would say.
It would be the next morning that I would collide with
the Long View "night guy" stumbling out of the control room,
peering out and over a large rat's nest of recording tape that he had gathered
up off the floor and the leather couch and was now carrying in his arms. These would
be the stereo mixdown outtakes of perhaps the world's greatest rock 'n' roll guitarist, Jimi Hendrix.
"Whata-I-do with this stuff? Shitcan it?"
"Yup," I would say. "Shitcan it."