First there was love and music. Then there was love, music, and a lot of drugs. Lastly there was love, music, a lot more drugs, and death
The ugly turn was taken at the Altamont Speedway during a festival promoting free rock music and peace all around. The festival soon turned from carefree to tragedy with one lick of the guitar. The whole idea around the Altamont Speedway music festival was the idea of the ever so present Rolling Stones. The Stones being a rock band, who wanted to, in a way, mimic the basic idea of its predecessors, the Monterey Pop Festival and Woodstock. The idea that the people of the time weren't about fighting and violence; they were all about loving oneself, loving one another, and most importantly, loving the music. Mick Jagger, the Rolling Stones lead singer, expresses his views on what they believe will be what people will conceive from this festival, he states, "Its creating a sort of a microcosmic society
it sets an example to the rest of America, as to how one can believe in nice gatherings." (Remember A Day: Altamont) The Stones saw the positive effect these gatherings had on the people and they also saw the amount that the publicity improved for the performers. So they assembled some of the most prolific bands of the time and chose to put themselves as the headliners. They booked acts such as Santana, Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Crosby Stills Nash and Young, and the Flying Burrito Brothers. What could go wrong? You have all the ingredients for a great music festival; you've got great music, loving people, loving peaceful time, and it's free to whoever attends. Although that's not all that was added. I forgot the main ingredient for this heaven turned hell, I forgot to add the security services of the Hells Angels.
The so-called mastermind of the festival was Mick Jagger. He decided to employ the Hells Angels as security since he had previously had good luck with them while doing a free concert in London. Also the Grateful Dead had acquired the help of the Hells Angels before and all went off without a hitch. There was something different about these angels; " they were notorious for their violent nature and their excessive drug use." (Remember A Day: Altamont) with this in mind, Rolling Stones road manager, Sam Culter, decided to do his part to maybe calm down the angels. So he bought them $500 in beer (which along with the pool cue, was their weapon of choice) and put the beer right in front of the stage, in hope that in case of a fight, the angels would be there to defend the Stones first. The angels threw the cans but drank most of it. Little did Culter know that instead of calming them down, he was just putting fuel on their fire. He not only gave them beer, he gave them the one thing they should have never been given, he gave them absolute power.
"Like the rest of the Stones' tour, the group waited as long as possible before taking the
stage. They wanted their entrance to be as great as possible. The lights around the medical
unit were even asked to be turned off so that as their set began the only light would be a
single spotlight on Jagger. Small fights kept on breaking out as the Stones played.
Meredith Hunter, an eighteen year old black man, was near the stage with a gun and a
knife. As the Hell's Angels attacked him with their pool cues, "Mick sang his song about
how groovy it is to be Satan. Never has it been sung in a more appropriate setting." The
Angels beat Hunter to death. "There could be no worse circumstances for making music,
and the Stones are playing their asses off." (Remember A Day:Altamont)
Soon after this happened and Jagger realized the extent to what had happened; he called for an ambulance and pleaded not only with the fans to stop the fighting, but he also begged the Angels to stop their rampage. Soon after that the Stones knew that in order to maintain some peace
Cited: Altamont. 23 Mar 2000. www.visi.com/~astanley/rad/altamont.html.
Monterey. 23 Mar 2000. www.visi.com/~astanley/rad/monterey.html.
Woodstock. 23Mar 2000. www.visi.com/~astanley/rad/woodstoc.html.
1969 Woodstock Festival & Concert - How Woodstock Happened. 23 Mar 2000.
Woodstock At 25. 23Mar 2000. http://www.publiccom.com/14850/9407/coverstory.html.
Introduction. 23 Mar 2000. www.visi.com/~astanley/rad/intro.html.
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