extensive article from Worcester Magazine, published in
July 2007, on Gil Markle's Long View Farm and the array
of stars who recorded there, including of course, Jeff Christie.
There are some full-length versions of Jeff's songs available
on Gil's site.
FORMER STUDIO MOGUL RELEASES ARCHIVAL
By Chet Williamson
AEROSMITH, Cat Stevens, Deep Purple, Graham Nash, The
J Geils Band, Arlo Guthrie, The Rolling Stones, Stevie Wonder.
The sounds of a generation. If you missed them the first
time around, they're coming at you again. And this time,
it's for free.
his 18 years at Long View Farm recording studios, owner
and founder Gil Markle amassed a recorded library of music
that literally captured a generation. Between the years
1973 and 1991, he hosted the above-listed artists and a
cast of thousands more all in the unlikely bucolic
setting of North Brookfield.
>>For Christie aficionados,
these include several pieces by Jeff Christie as well as
Carmen, the flamenco group featuring Paul Fenton on drums.<<
More recently driven by some combination
of personal nostalgia and respect for the material itself
Markle has taken on the task of preserving the recordings,
rescuing them from oxidation in the hope of maintaining
their original integrity. And now he's presenting them to
the public bringing them to a personal computer near
Now 67, Markle recently announced the launching
of his Media Library, where, for the price of a trip to
an e-mail address you can log on and dive into the mix.
The site offers both audio and video files of exceptionally
high quality, and they can be played in real time (streamed)
using Flash technology, which already exists on most computers.
Another outrageous wonder of the site is that
the files may be downloaded in iPod format for personal
For Markle, who lost control of Long View in
1991 and has had no involvement since, the project is both
a labor of love and legacy. The Media Library is actually
a page on his more extensive website, which also presents
a lengthy autobiographical account of his exceptional life
and times. While listening to the more than 600 tracks that
have been uploaded so far, you can peruse his Diary
of a Studio Owner, where you can read all about how
Markle parted company with his beloved recording studio,
how he trekked around India with George Harrison in search
of living gods, and how he played host to The Rolling Stones
Markle's background bio reads something like
this: he was a Jersey kid; his father was an audio engineer
for NBC and his mother was a jazz singer; he is a former
Fulbright Scholar with doctorates from the University of
Paris and Yale University. In 1973, he left a tenured position
as a philosophy professor at Clark University to pursue
what he now calls "laboratory experiments in virtual
renovated the historic Stoddard farmhouse in North Brookfield
to create Long View Farm Studio, which served him famously
for 18 years, until his student travel business crashed
and burned, taking his ownership of the studio with it.
Today, he has re-invented himself as CEO and
owner of Passports Educational Travel, a Spencer-based company,
which sponsors the overseas travel of several thousand American
students each year.
>>Several promotional videos
for this business feature the music of Jeff Christie.<<
The Keith Richards recordings are among the
most rare and precious in the Media Library collection.
What's so special about them is the fact that they were
not recorded for commercial purposes. The tape just happened
to be rolling when Keith sat at the piano in all his boozy
glory singing some of his favorite songs documenting
a unique musical event that stands out in Markle's mind
to this day.
"I found it fascinating to hear this guy
singing and playing the piano, and not the guitar, and doing
so in a controlled environment. It was, in that sense, a
very special event. I was thrilled that I had captured it
on magnetic tape."
Among the tunes Richards played are Fats Domino's
Blue Monday, Jerry Lee Lewis'
Whole Lotta Shakin' Going On
and The Hoagy Charmichael standard, The
Nearness of You.
Click on a selection and you will see information
about the track and, right next to it, two buttons. One
allows you to download it. The other will take you to text
material about the subject written by Markle, who is a colorful
and erudite writer with a clear-eyed memory of things past.
Fire up the Media Library page and you will
find a menu that lists the name of the selection, the media
format (video or audio clip), length of the piece, the artist,
the album, the genre and the year it was recorded.
The pieces are listed alphabetically by the
first name of the artist, but can be re-indexed any way
you want. There's also a "search" function. It
looks just like iTunes.
Among the live recordings are those of
Taj Mahal and James Taylor at Clark, BB King at Worcester
State and The Stones at the Silverdome in Pontiac, Mich.,
in 1981, fresh from their rehearsals at Long View.
If that's not enough, you will also find intriguing
audio interviews with such legends as John Belushi, Frank
Zappa, John Lennon, Little Richard, Yoko Ono and Steven
Tyler many of them provided by former WBCN DJ, Mark
And then there's the video of the legendary
1976 North Brookfield press party announcing Stevie Wonder's
monumental album Songs in the Key
of Life. Wonder hadn't actually recorded the album
at Long View, but he did stage a mammoth press party there,
flying in some 200 reporters from Los Angeles and New York
to Worcester via a chartered DC-8 jet.
The Media Library also features a promotional
clip for the release of Gary Wright's Dream
Weaver and a video from the Spooky Tooth reunion
tour in 2004 also featuring Wright, who was a boyhood pal
Assisting Markle in the process was his son
David, a graduate of WPI with a master's degree in computer
science and Chris Breault, a local musician who assists
David with the maintenance of the travel company's computers
The Markles had a fair amount of the recordings
already in their possession in the process of oxidizing,
to be sure but not the complete output of Gil's tenure
at Long View. Since building the website, however, they
have put the call out for material; and, to their surprise,
it's being heard.
"Tapes have come in from odd sources,"
David Markle says. "People we didn't know had 2-track
masters of things. They heard about what we were doing and
Gil would find a package on his doorstep with a reel-to-reel
tape in it. It's interesting; a lot of people have contributed,
wanting to get their stuff up there."
One might think that presenting material of
such magnitude would pose a myriad of legal issues, but
Markle explains that for educational, archival purposes
there are "fair use" allowances contemplated by
When it is pointed out that offering the service
free of charge is highly unusual, both Markles chime in
on the subject.
"Candidly, we are talking about archival
material and none of it is new," David Markle explains.
"However, some of it is very meaningful and important
Keith Richards, for example. However, it's not for
sale .... that's certainly the trend elsewhere, but it didn't
seem in keeping with the project to us. This is for fun
for the history."
So it appears. www.Studiowner.com
isn't selling anything no cassettes, posters, CDs
or T-shirts. Nor does it accept advertising, or commissions
from businesses such as hardware manufacturers or recording
"Studiowner.com was never conceived as
a money-making proposition," Gil Markle says. "It
has no revenues. We don't charge people for listening to
or downloading the music. We let them do so for free. This
stuff is meant to be heard. A lot of it we have in effect
brought back from the dead and given a very long, new life."
Log in and enjoy the ride.
A SAD POSTCRIPT: Gill died in 2015. Jeff penned
I met Gil early 1975 when I and the group Carmen
were ensconced at Longview Farm Recording Studios
in N. Brookfield, Massachusetts, they to record their
third album and myself to record a solo album after
Christie had broken up after a final tour of Mexico
at the end of 1974.
Steve Elson was also with us in Mexico
as we all were under the same management of Brian
Longley and he was on board to produce Carmen.
Gil was the owner of the gaff, charismatic,
good looking, fiercely intelligent and in love with
recording musicians in his studio at the farm which
was his pride and joy. Many hit albums by various
musicians were recorded there.
Gil originally came from an academic
background, a Fulbright scholar and Professor of Philosophy
and I believe his love of recording came later.
His enthusiasm and energy were boundless,
as was his readiness to get inside musicians' mindsets
in order to get the best out of them in the studio.
The farm became a kind of haven for us
all with gourmet chefs from New York, stables and
horses, and for me, wonderful countryside to explore
on horseback or foot between sessions.
In many ways a musician's paradise. It
housed other various personnel who worked and lived
on site to contribute to the smooth running of it
all. Many of these people became our friends during
that period and I have many wonderful memories from
there as it was something of a watershed for me.
After Christie broke up at the end of
'74 I moved to LA to pursue writing and recording
new material that would be different to the country
rock/pop of Christie and more in tune with a more
Because they had nicked my drummer Paul
Fenton, manager and sound man, I
found myself often hanging out with Carmen, as
Paul and I were long time friends, and John Glascock
their bass player and I hit it off immediately and
became also very close.
Eventually we all washed up at Longview
Farm and started work on our respective albums occasionally
guesting on each other's tracks vocally and instrumentally.
Throughout this process Gil and Jesse Henderson helmed
production and engineering with wit, charm and stamina
as some of the sessions would last into the early
Gil and I continued to work together
for some time after Carmen had left and we both enjoyed
and respected each other's respective talents a lot
which resulted in work I was proud of and still am
to this day.
Studio work can get tedious and exhausting
mentally and physically unless you have a good rapport
and personality mix with those you are working with.
This was our modus operandi and it worked really well!
Some good songs emerged and although the album I embarked
upon was not completed, these few songs eventually
surfaced over 30 years later on the Angel Air retrospective
Masters and No
In my life I have been fortunate to have
crossed paths, befriended and been befriended by a
few outstanding, unforgettable and special human beings
who have enriched my life experience and who in the
space of knowing them have alternatively inspired
and influenced me and left me with the warmest of
memories that are more easier felt than explained.
Gil Markle was one.