20,000 Lightyears From Boston
In 1981 the Rolling Stones played a surprise concert at the Lucky Dog Music Hall (at the time Sir Morgan’s Cove) and it was a big deal. Now, more than 25 years later, it’s still a big deal. The Stones were nearing the end of a six-week stay at Long View Farm, a recording studio in North Brookfield, Massachusetts, where they were rehearsing for their upcoming world tour in support of the just released Tattoo You. It was their first time playing live in over three years; Start Me Up, Hang Fire, and Waiting On A Friend were all over the radio; and the Stones were at the top of the mountain. Other cities and clubs were talked about and planned, but only the Worcester show happened. It was pure chaos. A day where WAAF had the tickets, and WBCN, pissed off at not having the tickets, tried to sabotage the show with on-air references to the recent tragedy at a Who concert in Cincinnati where 11 fans were trampled to death; where businesses shut down for the day because employees either just left or didn’t show up to begin with in order to try and get tickets; where 350 lucky people crammed the oven-like club to watch the historic show, while thousands stood outside in the rain listening; where the Rolling Stones – yes, the fucking Rolling Stones – the Greatest Band In The World, played their first show in three years, a blistering nearly two-hour set that opened with Under My Thumb and included classics like Satisfaction, Honky Tonk Woman, and Tumblin’ Dice, a few covers, and recent hits off of Some Girls, Emotional Rescue, and Tattoo You. (Their next show would be a little more than a week later in front of 90,000 people at Philadelphia’s colossal JFK stadium.)
It was a very big deal, and in a club that has hosted Aerosmith, Boston, Korn, Godsmack, and Staind, just to mention a few, it is the night that stands above the rest. This was the biggest band in the world, at the height of their career, and they kicked off the tour of the year in Worcester. It was, and is, a night to remember. Jumpin’ Jack Flash came to Green Street and blew the roof off the joint!
If you’re interested in any of this, here’s some more stuff to check out:
Were you there that night?
If you were in attendance, either inside or outside, we’d love to hear from you. Tell us what you remember and any thoughts you might have, and we’ll post it for others to read. Click here to email us.
Long View Farm:
Long View Farm was a dairy farm that had been converted to a recording studio. Stevie Wonder, J Geils, Motley Crue, and James Taylor are just some of the giants who have recorded there. Long View was owned and operated by Gil Markle, a philosophy professor/studio engineer/entrepreneur who played host to the Stones in the summer of 1981. To learn more about Long View Farm, the bands that Gil worked with and his experiences with some of rock’s biggest stars, and to read his book, available entirely online and detailing the Stones’ stay at Long View Farm (including the night of the Sir Morgan’s Cove show) go to Gil’s website at www.studiowner.com. Make sure you read about Gil’s experience with Keith Richards and the four days he spent alone with him, recording him. You can even listen online to ten tracks that Gil recorded, with Keith singing and accompanying himself on Piano. Amazing stuff! (Special thanks to Gil for his personal input and insight, and for his assistance in helping us put all of this together. And thanks for lunch. I owe you one!)
The only photographer in the club that night, as far as we can tell, was AP photographer Ron Pownall. Thanks to Ron for allowing us to use his photos for this site and for providing us with high quality prints for inside the club. Ron is a celebrated concert photographer whose photos have been published just about everywhere. He’s shot a lot of the greats. To see more of Ron’s work, and to purchase high quality prints, go to his website atwww.rockrollphoto.com/lo/index.html. (Be sure to check out the Kiss photos, shot at the Orpheum Theatre in Boston in 1975 when they opened for Motte The Hoople!)
To visit the official Rolling Stones site go to www.rollingstones.com.
Exile On Green Street:
On January 11, 2003, we officially celebrated the 1981 Stones’ show at the Lucky Dog with a night of Stones’ music. Our house band, Goat’s Head Soup, featuring The Curtain Society and friends, plus over 30 guest vocalists from top area bands, played three sets encompassing 45 Stones’ classics. Read the article about this show from the Worcester Telegram by
Other than Ron and Gil, special thanks to John Fraser and Scott McLennan from the Worcester Telegram & Gazette, Charlene Arsenault from Worcester Magazine, Erick Godin from the Lucky Dog Music Hall, WAAF, Roger Lavalee and Duncan Arsenault from The Curtain Society for making all the music possible, plus everyone from Goat’s Head Soup and all the singers who sang, and anyone else that I’ve forgotten.
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