nineteen-forties and early nineteen-fifties, the most famous nightclub in New
York City wasn't in New York City at
all, but across the George Washington Bridge on top of the
Palisades under a big neon sign which read "Bill Miller's Riviera". Frank Sinatra
and all the other rat-packers would appear there regularly, in the company of
mobsters. Gil Markle, Sr. was asked on at least one occasion to show up there as
an assistant engineer in service of Sinatra, with whom he had a thin,
fledgling relationship. This would have been easy for him to do, since he was
living with his wife and three children just a few miles down Rt. 9W,
in Palisades Park. He didn't do the gig, for reasons I was too young at
the time to understand.
Bill Miller also had three children: two
daughters, Judith and Susan, and a son, Jimmy. When they were in their
early teens, their father's famous nightclub was demolished in order to make
way for the Palisades Parkway, ending an era. The father went on to even bigger
and better things, moving to Las Vegas in 1954 and becoming the entertainment
director of the Sahara, Dunes, Flamingo and International hotels.
Jimmy stayed behind, and became a
professional musician. It was only a few years later that he (a drummer) and Larry
Fallon (a piano player) would perform regularly in The Oasis a bar in Fort Lee on the
corner of Rt. 9W and the access road leading to the then spanking new Palisades
Parkway. The establishment was just a long stone's throw from the former site of Bill
Miller's Riviera. Gil Markle Sr.'s two sons, Gil and Bill, were friends with
Jimmy Miller at the time, and would often visit with Jimmy in the bar,
sometimes in the company of Gary Wright, a classmate of Bill's.
Jimmy Miller went to England in the early
sixties, and became friends with the wealthy Chris Blackwell, whose hobby was
making rock 'n' roll records. Miller would produce records for Blackwell, and
then for other artists independently, including The Spencer Davis Group,
Traffic, Savage Rose, Gary Wright and Wright's band Spooky Tooth, Blind Faith, and the
Gil Markle (Jr.) would "hang" with Wright and Miller in London
during the mid and late nineteen sixties, and it was during these visits that
his plans for the Long View Farm recording studio took shape.
It was Jimmy Miller's stewardship of the
Rolling Stones during the late sixties and early seventies which earned him
the reputation of being one of the most influential rock 'n' roll record producers of
the twentieth century. It also burnt him out physically and emotionally, and
he would die a disappointed and broken man in 1994, back in the United States.
Judith Miller, one of the two sisters,
ended up as an aggressive and highly career-motivated writer for The New York
Times. It was in that position at the turn of the century that she wrote a
series of articles which apparently intentionally mis-stated the possession
by Iraq of weapons of mass destruction. These articles were eagerly seized
upon by the Bush administration, and widely referred to as justification for
the invasion of that country in 2003. It has been suggested that Judith Miller
is the U.S. civilian not then in direct government service who was most responsible for
the Iraq war.
Judith Miller spent a brief
time in prison, unwilling to give testimony which might have tended to
(further) incriminate the Assistant to the President and the Vice President's
Chief of Staff,
I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, in connection with the illegal "outing" of a
CIA operative, Valerie Plame Wilson, this in apparent punishment for her
husband's debunking, in part, of Judith Miller's articles in the New York Times.
I wonder, had the peaceful soul Jimmy Miller
not died in 1994, but lived on long enough to talk some sense into the head of
his little sister, if the Iraq war would have ever occurred.