Long before white Europeans arrived from ships and formed settlements along the Atlantic coast, native inhabitants worshipped this sacred land spread across a grassy hill in central Massachusetts. Yet, even these early Americans could not foresee how the power and magic of this place would profoundly change those who came to live and visit in the centuries to follow.
For in the 19th and 20th Centuries, the flatlands gave way to tiny villages and small towns such as North Brookfield Village and farms such as Long View.
Gil Markle, a novice recording engineer and audiophile, believed that artists would benefit from the country setting of the remote farm. A former philosophy professor at Clark University, he originally bought the farm in 1973 as a home, and supervised the renovation of the interiors of the 150-year-old farmhouse and barn, installing recording equipment, kitchens and dining facilities, bedroom suites and recreation rooms—all designed to entice artists to stay—and pay—for the privilege.
Markle hired a pair of visionary renovators, Geoff Myers and John Farrell, artists in their own right, who were the true architects of his fledgling vision and what would become the physical manifestation of the Long View experience. Myers and Farrell transformed the former genteel dairy farm into an insanely creative music factory that would go on to attract some of the top name artists in the world producing Grammy-winning, gold and multi-platinum selling hit after hit after hit.
Despite the seemingly magical aura that surrounded the studio, legal, financial and managerial troubles in the 1980s led to the shutting of Long View Farm and the studio. Markle lost the farm and studio in a lawsuit. He had signed the properties over as collateral to a subsidiary of Blue Cross/Blue Shield who had loaned him money to bail out his then-struggling travel company.
Interested in retaining the revenue from the failing, but still viable studio, the court-appointed receiver of Long View hired Bonnie Milner to maximize whatever income the studio could generate. Milner, a former studio manager at the facility, agreed, because as she told a documentary producer, “I agreed because I believed in this place. I knew it was a magical incubator for creativity and that its power and benefit would transcend. And, I believe that the original caretakers of these grounds – the native tribes who worshipped here — would agree.”
With the support of investor Ronald Siff of Worcester, Milner purchased the business in 1994, buying out Mr. Siff ten years later.
The music industry downturn that began not long before Ms. Milner took control of the business has not been kind to iconic and legendary studios worldwide and Long View was no exception. However, Long View refused to succumb, as had so many in the business. Always believing that the place was, first and foremost, a creative incubator, Milner set about attracting like-minded creatives who also believed. Purged of virtually all former employees, Long View underwent a period of clarity and mission purpose and is today a place where music-centric artists and projects are created, developed and amplified by an extraordinary team of creative professionals.
Long View’s rich history remains undeniable: The first notable recording project was Stuff in 1975. This was the band that appeared with John Belushi and Joe Cocker on Saturday Night Live and featured Steve Gadd on drums and guitarists Cornell Dupree and Eric Gale, with Richard Tee on keyboards.
A listening party for Stevie Wonder’s Songs In The Key of Life was held in the summer of 1976. Over 200 members of the press were flown in from New York City.
Boston’s J. Geils Band recorded all four of their EMI albums starting with Sanctuary in 1977 through Freeze Frame and You’re Gettin’ Even While I’m Gettin’ Odd, which was recorded without frontman Peter Wolf.
Aerosmith recorded “Chip Away the Stone” in June 1978 and returned in the 1990s for pre-production of Get a Grip and later drum recordings for Nine Lives and Just Push Play.
The Pat Metheny Group recorded American Garage in 1979. Other jazz projects over the years included albums from Max Roach, Larry Coryell, Archie Shepp, Oregon and Jon Scofield
The Rolling Stones took up residence for six weeks in the late summer/fall of 1981, during their sessions for Tattoo You.
There were Folk and Pop recordings by Pete Seeger, Arlo Guthrie, Don McLean, Dan Fogelberg, Cat Stevens, Graham Nash, Rupert Holmes, Uncle Tupelo and Tim Curry.
Current projects in development and/or production include The Farm, Megaphone, Clean Green Music Machine and Revolution)Earth.
(From materials submitted by Jesse Henderson and Bonnie Milner.)