Rolling Stones Altamont Concert Remembered [VIDEO]
Aside from a shot of Mick viewing for the first time footage of the young concert goer being fatally stabbed to death by the Hells Angels member, the once scene of the Gimme Shelter documentary that has always been most memorable to me concerns not the Rolling Stones, but the Grateful Dead.
The scene shows The Dead arriving to California’s Altamont Speedway on that afternoon in 1969 to perform their scheduled set.
The story is now a familiar one: The Stones arranged a day-long concert festival at the racetrack in northern California, featuring fellow artists The Jefferson Starship, CSNY, Santana and others.
Stones management hired CA biker gang the Hells Angels to act in some facet as security for the event (it’s never been clearly established as to the exact details of the arrangement)
It would lead to chaos, and eventually death.
The Shelter documentary very clearly shows the escalating tension and violence between the Angels, the music acts and the 300,000 strong crowd.
Starship’s performance was particularly ugly, featuring Grace Slick being struck in the head by a hurled object from the audience and an onstage argument – live on the mics, no less – between Starship member Marty Balin and an Angels member.
It would end with Balin being knocked unconcious.
Enter Jerry Garcia and company.
“That’s what the story is here?”, asks Garcia when informed that there had been violence towards the musicians.
The Dead then split the scene.
Later that night as The Rolling Stones hit the stage (a performance that featured Jagger beeseching the crowd to comply as much as Stones music) a confrontation between an Angels member and a young man in the audience would lead to the young man’s stabbing death.
At the start of that particular Stones tour, Jagger would tell the press he believed the free concert would mirror that of Woodstock.
It’s creating a sort of a microcosmic society, y’know, which, it sets an example to the rest of America as to how one can behave in large gatherings.
Figuratively – and literally – the sixties were done.
The Stones’ full setlist at the Altamont concert was: “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” “Carol,” “Sympathy For The Devil,” “The Sun Is Shining,” “Stray Cat Blues,” “Love In Vain,” “Under My Thumb,” the world premiere of “Brown Sugar,” “Midnight Rambler,” “Live With Me,” “Gimme Shelter,” “Little Queenie,” “Satisfaction,” “Honky Tonk Women,” and “Street Fighting Man.”