Altamont Free Concert 1969

Altamont Free Concert 1969

-Infamous rock concert held on Saturday, Dec. 6, 1969 at the Altamont Speedway in northern California.
-Headlined by The Rolling Stones, also featured in order of appearance: Santana, Jefferson Airplane, The Flying Burrito Brothers, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. The Rolling Stones were the final act to go on that night.
-The Grateful Dead were also scheduled to play, but declined due to the violence.
-300,000 people attended the event, and some said it would be a Woodstock for the West.
-A documentary titled Gimme Shelter was made about it.
-This event is best known for it's considerable violence, including 1 homicide, 3 accidental deaths: 2 caused by a hit and run car accident and an accidental drowning. 4 births were reported during the event as well. Many were injured, numerous cars stolen and abandoned, extensive property damage.

-Was originally planned to be held at San Jose State practice field since there had just recently been an outdoor festival with 52 bands and 80,000 people in attendance for 3 days. The Stones and The Grateful Dead were told the city of San Jose was not in the mood for another big concert. Then Golden Gate Park was another proposed location. However, a previously scheduled San Francisco 49ers football game at Kezar Stadium, located in Golden Gate Parkm the weekend of Dec. 6-7 made that venue used up. Then it was changed to Sears Point Raceway, but after a fight with the track owner, it changed again this time to Altamont Speedway. The concert was to take place on Saturday Dec. 6.

-The move resulted in numerous logistical problems including of lack of facilities such as portable toilets and medical tents. The move also created a problem for the stage design; instead of being on top of a rise, which suited the geography at Sears Point, at Altamont the stage would now be at the bottom of a slope. The Rolling Stones stage manager was on the 1969 tour, Chip Monck, he explained that "The stage was one metre high- 39 inches for us- and at Sears Point, it was on top of a hill, so all the audience pressure was back upon them." Because of the short notice for venue change, the stage couldn't be changed.

-Because the stage was so low, members of the Hells Angels, motorcycle club, led by Oakland chapter leader Ralph 'Sonny' Barger were asked to surround the stage to provide security.
-The Hells Angels were hired by The Rolling Stones on recommendation from The Grateful Dead for $500 worth of beer.
-It's also believed that The Rolling Stones may have been misled by their experience with the British chapter of the Hells Angels, who provided security at their 1969 Hyde Park concert. The British chapter are more mellow and lucid than their American counterparts.

-Most of the Angels were heavily drunk and the crowd, fueled by LSD and amphetamines, was attacking each other, the Angels and the performers. The Angels then armed themselves with sawn-off pool cues and motorcycle chains.
-The Rolling Stones had waited until sundown to take the stage. Stanley Booth said that part of the reason for the delay was that Bill Wyman had missed the helicopter ride to the venue. When they began, a group of 4,000-5,000 people jammed to the very edge of the stage, and many attempted to climb onto the stage.

Death of Meredith Hunter
-Rolling Stones lead singer Mick Jagger, who had already been punched by a concert goer within seconds of leaving the chopper, was visibly intimidated by the unruly crowd, urging everyone to "Just be cool down in the front there, don't push around". Within a minute of starting their 3rd song, Sympathy for the Devil, a fight started in the crowd near the stage. The band stopped after playing the song and waited for things to calm down. They restarted the song and continued with less problems until they started playing "Under My Thumb". Some of the Hells Angels got into a fight with Meredith Hunter, who was 18, when he tried to get on stage with other fans. One of the Hells Angels grabbed Hunter's head, punched him, and chased him off back into the crowd. At that point, Hunter got back onto the stage, and was so high he could barely walk.

-Grateful Dead manager Rock Scully said "I saw what he was looking at, that he was crazy, he wa son drugs, and that he had murderous intent. There was no doubt in my mind that he intended to do terrible harm to Mick or somebody in the Rolling Stones, or somebody on that stage".

-In the movie Gimme Shelter, it shows Angel Alan Passaro armed with a knife, running at Hunter from the side, carrying the gun with his left hand and stabbing him with the right. Passaro was arrested and tried for the murder in 1971, but he was acquitted after footage revealed that it was Hunter who struck first and that Passaro was only trying to defend himself.

Set Lists
The Rolling Stones
-Jumpin Jack Flash
-Sympathy for the Devil
-The Sun is Shining
-Stray Cat Blues
-Love in Vain
-Under My Thumb
-Brown Sugar
-Midnight Rambler
-Live with Me
-Gimme Shelter
-Little Queenie
-(I Can't Get No)Satisfaction
-Honky Tonk Women
-Street Fighting Man