Welcome to the Home of my new Online Magazine . . .
Because sometimes THE FANS can live like Rock Stars too . . .
This Premier Issue is a goodie!
It may even help you plan your next vacation!
In this issue I will take you to the location of one of the most famed rock-n-roll photoshoots of all time and tell you how to spend the night there!
So Scroll Down and Follow Me to Merry Olde England;
Fair Land of Ruins, Rolling Hills
Of course, I wasn't seeing all that beauty in person. I was faraway (in both time and space). It was Christmas morning in 1974 and I was gazing at a 1968 photograph gracing the back cover of the Hot Rocks album in my childhood home in Appalachia. The Rolling Stone double album was the first gift I tore open that day, only to be gobsmacked by the total coolness of that Michael Joseph photograph. I was mesmerized by the medieval-ish scene of the Stones perched like beautiful gargoyles on the ancient facade, while Charlie Watts stood in the foreground like the Grand Gatekeeper of Rock-N-Roll.
Needless to say, I skipped Christmas breakfast; choosing instead to hover over my record-player and listen to every track on the album. But I was stopped short by the first echo-like notes of "Gimme Shelter" (the greatest rock-n-roll song EVER) ! Three seconds into that song and I was completely undone. I played the track over and over while I stared at the back cover. There was something about the mix of that haunting tune and the photo of the Rolling Stones scattered along that crumbling pavilion that triggered a deep ache on the inside of me. I wanted to be there; at that magical ruin in that English landscape. I fell in love with that haunting location every bit as deeply as I had fallen in love with the Rolling Stones. From that day on, I longed for it, even though I didn't even know where "it" was. The feeling that photograph evoked never left me.
Finally, 43 years later, I am here.
I was a teenager the first time I laid eyes on The Swarkestone Hall Pavilion. It was in ruins at the time. The windows and doors had gone missing; the grass was overgrown, and the lawn and window ledges were littered with Rolling Stones.
at the Swarkestone Hall Pavilion in the early evening.
We had made a long drive up from the southern portion of The Cotswolds and were a bit frazzled from hours of driving on the wrong side of the road on a busy Friday afternoon. Our GPS had not been helpful. In fact, we had begun to suspect that she disliked Americans and was trying to steer us wrong as often as possible. But our tension melted the moment we turned onto the gravel road leading to the property. The pavilion is surrounded by pastures on all sides. Fourteen horses grazing on three sides ignored our approach, but the sheep made sure we were aware of their presence by "baaaa-ing" continually.
We parked the car under a big tree inside a special enclosure built to keep the neighboring livestock off the grounds. It was a completely surreal moment for me: I had just driven straight into the landscape from my favorite Rolling Stone photoshoot. It was everything and more that I dreamed it would be! I staggered out of the car, somewhat zombie-like in my giddiness. Sensing that I had been rendered useless, my husband went about the task of unlocking the front door while I stood inside the walled enclosure with my jaw dangling as my mind tried to grasp the fact that I was actually at the place of my teenaged dreams.
I should probably mention here that my husband and I were on our vacation and celebrating our 32nd Anniversary (which anyone who has been married for any amount of time knows is A BIG DEAL). When we were planning our trip I had told Dan that we HAD to stay at the Swarkestone Hall Pavilion and he thought it sounded pretty cool. Not the Rolling Stone connection part - just the restored English landmark part. No man wants to think that the only reason his wife suggested staying in a romantic renovated ruin for their anniversary was only because the Rolling Stones once took photos there. I tried to be sensitive to this fact. (Tried being the operative word here . . .) And because I'm so sensitive that way, I did warn Dan that there could be a few things that some might regard to be "minor drawbacks" when compared with the amenities of a swanky hotel.
There was no Wi-Fi and we would have to go up to the top floor and cross the roof outside to get to the bathroom, which could be a brisk prospect if it rained. But Dan likes camping, so he was still game. (I think I forgot to mention to Dan that once, during a storm, lightning had struck the lead roof of one of the turrets. I was just trusting there would be no lightning during our stay . . . Besides, they provided fire extinguishers!)
But any concerns I had harbored were forgotten immediately when Dan opened the door. We peeked inside and, grinning like chimpanzees, we galloped up the beautiful stairwell to the main floor. We opened the door, stepped inside and never wanted to leave it ever again.
How An Album Cover Can Become Your
(Or, at the least, Your Destination!)
As an gift for our 32nd anniversary, my husband agreed to photograph me posing as all of the Rolling Stones from the famous Michael Joseph photo shoot at Swarkestone Pavilion.
To pay homage to each Stone, I had to pose in five different outfits in ten different poses.
As my husband patiently waited, I changed clothes in the bathroom in the top tower. It was, of course, impossible to perfectly replicate the pose on the Hot Rocks album because Swarkestone had been a windowless ruin when the Stones draped themselves over the ledges. So I struck poses on the rooftop as similar as possible (and photoshopped them onto a single photo later). Once I finished posing as a particular Stone on the roof, we would trot down three flights of stairs so that I could pose in the yard as that same Stone. Dan marked his spot in the grass so that he could photograph me from the same angle each time.
This took about 2.5 hours (or longer).
It was the most wonderful anniversary gift.
(For me that is. For Dan . . . Maybe not so much.)
It's just another one of the reasons I married him . . .
He's my very own Michael Joseph!