I'm a Stones fan. That's the first thing you need to know before
reading this book.
Second, you need to know that I'm a trained philosopher. Two PhD's.
Seems I spent half my life in college, and then the university. I
Philosophy for many years first as an Assistant at
Yale University, finally as a tenured Associate Professor at Clark
University in Worcester, Massachusetts. That was years ago, of course.
But I still have a philosopher's brain, and am always trying to "figure
out what's really going on," under the surface of things. That's
basically what philosophers do.
Finally, you should know that I'm a businessman. Some people call me an
"entrepreneur," although all that seems to mean, when you come down to
it, is that I don't work for anybody else, but for myself
instead. Big deal. My most recent business undertaking has involved
Long View Farm, a residential and somewhat glamorous rock 'n' roll
recording studio in the hills of Central Massachusetts. I own it.
Here's how all this concerns you. Last summer the summer of 1981
the Rolling Stones came to Long View Farm in order to prepare for
and rehearse their long-awaited and possibly last concert tour of the
United States. That event found me Gil Markle the right guy, in
the right place, at the right time. I don't have to explain to you
that the odds against finding a philosophically trained Stones fan
posing as a rock impresario one who just happened to be called upon
to host the Rolling Stones for a two-month period are very high
indeed. On the basis of odds alone, it's much more tempting to believe
that these things never happened to me at all. But they did, and I took
notes as I went, and when my friends finally said to me, "Gil,
why don't you write a book?" I had my answer fully prepared. I
This is the book that resulted: a collection of fifty or so essays on
the general subject of people and power, and the ways in which lives
turn topsy-turvy whenever they are drawn into the long shadow of a
living myth. That's what the Rolling Stones are an active, living
I've used dialogue form whenever possible, in order that you hear the
people speaking in their own words. I tried to remember these words
as best I could. Couldn't carry a tape recorder, though. They told me
not to. So I had to conjure a lot of stuff up out of a memory which is
pretty good, but not perfect by a long shot.
Let me confess further that I've changed some names and dates whenever
there seemed to be humane reasons for doing so, and have invented
an "Editor" whose name is Bennie
Strange. Bennie contributes footnotes to the text whenever I feel that
another point of view is required even one antithetical to my own
and whenever I think that I may have misremembered things a bit in
my zeal for essay writing and storytelling. You might say that Bennie's
my conscience talking. But he's a literary device only. There's no such
person. There. I've said it.
I hope that you enjoy these pages Stones fans and philosophers
alike and that they quicken in you an appreciation for myth, and
for the power it wields within our lives.
This book is about that power.
Black Rock, Tobago