Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Rolling Stones - Sympathy for The Devil Live 1969 in Altamont

Rolling Stones at Altamont in 1969 with Hells Angels doing Security playing Sympathy For The Devil! Classic piece of Rock and Roll History.

The Altamont Speedway Free Concert was held on Saturday, December 6, 1969, at the Altamont Speedway in Northern California. Headlined and organized by The Rolling Stones, it also featured Santana, Jefferson Airplane, The Flying Burrito Brothers, and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, with the Rolling Stones taking the stage as the headlining act. The Grateful Dead were also scheduled to perform, but declined to play shortly before their scheduled appearance due to the increasing violence at the venue. “That's the way things went at Altamont—so badly that the Grateful Dead, prime organizers and movers of the festival, didn't even get to play,” someone was quoted in Rolling Stone.

The most infamous musical event of 1969 became the antithesis of the Woodstock generation's espoused ethos of free love and peace. At the concert in Altamont, a fan was stabbed to death by a member of Hell's Angels.

By some accounts, the Hell's Angels were hired as security by the management of the Rolling Stones for $500 worth of beer — a story that has been denied by parties who were directly involved. According to Rolling Stones' road manager Sam Cutler, "the only agreement there ever was ... the Angels would make sure nobody tampered with the generators, but that was the extent of it. But there was no way 'They're going to be the police force' or anything like that. That's all bollocks."

Lead singer Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones, who had already been punched by a concert goer within seconds of emerging from his helicopter, was visibly intimidated by the unruly situation, urging everyone to "Just be cool down in the front there, don't push around." Within a minute of starting their third song, "Sympathy for the Devil", a fight erupted in the front of the crowd, at the foot of the stage. After a lengthy pause and another appeal for calm, the band restarted "Sympathy" and continued their set with less incident until the start of "Under My Thumb". Some of the Hells Angels got into a scuffle with Meredith Hunter, age 18, when he attempted to get onstage with other fans. 

Footage from the documentary shows Hunter (seen in the film in a bright lime-green suit) drawing a long-barreled revolver from his jacket, and Hells Angel Alan Passaro, armed with a knife, running at Hunter from the side, parrying the gun with his left hand and stabbing him with his right.

Hunter's autopsy confirmed he was high on methamphetamine when he died.

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