Gary Gray - Sculptor Of Sound
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Abbey Road Construction 
Where The Value Of Rock Meets The Role Of Inspiration. 

How Disappointment Becomes Opportunity

I arrived at the famous Beatles site; the Abbey Road street crossing intersection, where one of the most famous photos in modern history was taken - of The four Beatles crossing that familiar striped cross-walk, a stone's throw from Abbey Road Studios.  As the car I was in approached the intersection, my driver said, "Hmm, the traffic seems slower than usual.  I mean, it's always congested here because so many people want a photo of themselves walking across that street; the same way the Beatles did on that famous album cover -- but look at this."  I looked ahead and saw, to my chagrin, a major construction project underway - right on that crosswalk!

I was bummed.  I wanted  a great photo of this famous site.  It could be the only chance I’d have to take this shot, and now it was blown.  And not only that, construction workers were digging up this sacred land!  Who let them do that??!!! Just to fix some municipal underground pipe?!  They should have capped off that pipe on either end of the walkway site and re-routed the pipe underground -- around the site, away from that cherished walkway.  I couldn't believe the town of Westminster would allow this to happen to an International historic landmark like this. Unbelievable.  It was painful to watch the construction workers dig away.  As I gazed in horror, I noticed that it was only a small strip of pavement that had to be excavated to handle the pipe problem. The pipe that was being exhumed ran parallel with Abbey Road and it happened to be just under one of those famous white stripes in the road.  OMG, I thought, this is bad.

I walked away, extremely disappointed,  even though a nice German couple tried to help -- the husband taking some nice shots of me in the non-construction zone area of the street where I could pose like the Beatles did, walking across this world-famous landmark - but the shot was marred by the construction fence, red cones, signs and workers.  He showed me the shot and said that he could crop it so that the construction scene would not be so visible.  He then took some nice shots of me at Abbey Road Studios.

As I walked away, I tried to think about other things to get my mind off of the disappointment.  I reached in my pocket and removed a folded flyer an English chap had given me earlier - with a map directing me to a Beatles souvenir shop.  I took a cursory look at the map, and realized that I would need to go back past the Abbey Road walkway in order to visit the souvenir shop. 

As I passed the walkway, barely even glancing at it, trying to get my mind off of what could have been a great experience, I saw this girl from Argentina and her brother stooping down by the construction fence.  Then I saw her brother lying on the ground, his arm outstretched under the fence.  

Then it hit me.  

Her brother was collecting pieces of Abbey Road which had been dug up by the construction crew, and was giving them to his sister, a die-hard Beatles fan, so she could take a piece of this sacred ground with her.
What an excellent idea, I thought.  That's an awesome idea.  So, while he was still on the ground reaching for rocks and stones, I asked him if he could grab me one.  "Sure!  No problem," he replied. 

He handed me a small rock - formed from the man-made concrete of the street foundation actually.  I felt pretty amazing.  In my hand, I now held a piece of history, an intimate, personal souvenir of sacred ground.

And then this Argentinian young man and I started talking.  His sister and her mother joined in.  I said to them, "I was so disappointed and now I am so glad I came back this way and saw what you were doing.  Thank you for the inspiration.  It really shows me once again how disappointment can lead to new opportunities.  I see your faces and you are beaming, smiling and laughing, when all these other people, including me until now, were frowning and sour-faced."

I made a comment about how I wished I had a piece of the road that contained that stripe on it - how valuable that would be to any collector or Beatles’ fanatic.  It would literally be the ground that the Beatles walked on. 

I walked up to the fence and spotted a wheelbarrow on the other side.  In that wheelbarrow were mostly larger chunks of the road.  I looked closer; each chunk did have white on one side.  Those construction guys were saving that hallowed ground for themselves!  I couldn't blame them.  I'd do the same thing!

All of a sudden, one of the construction men, obviously noticing the look on my face as I was eyeing that wheelbarrow, walked up to the wheelbarrow, reached down, picked up a one-and-a-half pound chunk of historic Abbey Road -- with the sacred white stripe on it, and leaned over toward me, gesturing for me to grab that piece of music history under a gap in the construction fence.  I couldn't believe he was doing that.  Everyone else sort of stepped aside as I reached down and took the rock from his hand, holding it in disbelief as to what this man just did.  He had a big smile on his face and once again, as did happen throughout my stay in England, a complete stranger reached out to me with warmth and pure care to make my day better.  In this case, to make my life better. 

I video'd the construction worker giving me that rock, and video’d Abbey Road Studios just up the road.  I knew that if I were to show this rock to anyone and tell them what it was, there would be skepticism and disbelief -- and proof would be needed for any Beatles fan to truly appreciate the magnitude of the value of this "moon rock."


I also took photos and additional videos of the construction site with veracity, while earlier in the day I had completely avoided the whole area. 


I'm thinking of possibly making individual jewelry from small pieces of the rock, or keeping it -- or selling it, along with the video footage and photos to show authenticity.   Who knows what some passionate Beatles fan would pay for a piece of sacred ground that the Beatles actually walked on in one of the most famous photos ever taken in modern history?

The moral of the story is this:  Barriers don't have to create problems and detours.  Barriers can create a golden path straight to fortune.  It's all in how you view the barrier.  

Abbey Road Construction - Where The Value Of Rock Meets The Role Of Inspiration. 

Gary Gray
Abbey Road, Westminster, London, England
March 21, 2012

Gary Gray is the President and Founder of
Mr. Gray also owns Parker Gray Management along with his partner Morio Parker. Mr. Gray was on a break from recording sessions in London when this true life story unfolded. 


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