20/07 18.30 ATTN: GILBERT SCOTT MARKLE FOR EYES ONLY
TO HOTEL VILLA PAMPHILI
ATTN: GILBERT SCOTT MARKLE
FOR EYES ONLY.
ROLLING STONES LOOKING EXTREMELY
FAVORABLE FOR MID AUGUST THRU END SEPTEMBER FOR TOUR REHEARSAL IN
STUDIO B. LOGISTICS CHIEF ALAN DUNN AND PIANO PLAYER IAN STEWART
FLEW UP IN TWIN FOR OVERNIGHT VISIT SATURDAY AND LOVED FARM. THIS
SHOULD HAPPEN. STILL TOP SECRET AND CONFIDENTIAL.
That's the telex message which was waiting for me in the hotel in Rome,
and so I knew this thing was still real. The Rolling Stones were
apparently tilting toward Long View as a likely rehearsal site for
their upcoming and much heralded tour of the United States, and perhaps
even of the entire world.
I had been up in Montreux, Switzerland, for a few days attempting
to hustle and be seen during the goings-on at Claude Nobb's annual
jazz festival. The last time I was there was in 1976, with the band
Stuff, now Paul Simon's back-up band. We had just made Stuff's first
record the orange one and I had mixed it, and I was in
Switzerland with a distinct lift to my gait. I knew we had just made a
good record, and that one day Long View Farm was going to become a
great recording studio. That was five years ago.
This visit now was distinctly less fun, with the exception of the time
I spent with Phil Sandhaus, an A & R guy working for CBS Records in New
York City. He was a touch sick and tired of the record business, and my
attempts to cheer him smelled of hollowness, rote, and duty. I suppose
I was a bit sick of the record business, too despite our five years
of relative success as a countryside recording studio and could not
easily conceal the fact. But we had some great beers together, Phil and
I, and we went for stoned drives overlooking Lac Leman talking about
our careers and how to better wire the world for sound and visual images.
"Listen to me, Phil," I said, blowing smoke in his direction.
We were now sipping Cognac and coffees high up above the town of
Montreux. "Here we are, talking about rock 'n' roll, and how
we're through with it, and how it's messed up our lives, but this
morning the phone rang from the United States, and it's Randall
who runs the record and publishing company for me, and who scouts
business for the studio at Long View.
"'It's the Rolling Stones, Gil,' he tells me, 'coming to
Long View for six weeks to rehearse!'
"So I ask him, 'How sure
"'Pretty sure, I think,' he shouts back.' We sent the twin for Alan
"'Logistics Chief, the best I can say. Also, Ian Stewart,
who you'd say is the sixth member of the band. He's asking me all
the right questions.'
"So, Phil," I continued, "what do you make of it? What am I
supposed to think? Do I want to do this?"
Phil looked at me, and for a moment he thought I was testing him for
vital functions. We'd been smoking a bit, and joking all the way up the
mountainside. You could hear cowbells tinkling, far below.
"The Stones?" he asked.
"The Stones, Phil."
"So, when are you going back?" Phil was now convinced that I wasn't
I had to think. It had not yet occurred to me that I should be back in
the United States, and not here in Switzerland, in an effort to make
this deal happen.
"Tomorrow," I replied, making up my mind on the spot.
"And what about McCoy Tyner, and Paquito D'Riviera, and Mike Berniker's
taping on Saturday night that you wanted to help with?" Phil was there
in Montreux to make some tapes for CBS.
"It's your taping, Phil, not mine. You tell me how it goes. I've
got to get out of Montreux anyhow. 'You can't go home again', like the
Late that night, back at the hotel, when I thought Nancy and the kids
would be by the phone in our house on Cape Cod, I called. "I think the
Rolling Stones are coming to Long View, Nancy." I was shouting over a
telephone connection which was not too good.
"That's great," she shouted back. "The kids and I are going to
stay in a teepee tonight!"
"The Rolling Stones!" I said again.
"Yes," she said, "a teepee."
Then I said "The Rolling Stones" at the same time that she said "a
teepee," and the transmissions cancelled each other out, with neither
of us hearing what the other was saying.
That's all right. I didn't really expect Nancy to be excited about the
Rolling Stones, and have had discussions like this with her, on and off
the telephone, for years.