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Encyclopedia > Altamont Music Festival
 DVD cover of Gimme Shelter, the documentary film of the Altamont Music Festival
DVD cover of Gimme Shelter, the documentary film of the Altamont Music Festival

The Altamont Free Concert was a famous rock music festival held on December 6, 1969. The concert featured The Rolling Stones and other bands such as the Grateful Dead, Santana, The Flying Burrito Brothers, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young and Jefferson Airplane. Approximately 300,000 people attended the concert, and some speculated it would be "Woodstock West." Filmmakers Albert and David Maysles shot footage of the concert, including the infamous killing, and incorporated it into a subsequent documentary film entitled Gimme Shelter. Image File history File linksMetadata GimmeshelterDVDcover. ... Image File history File linksMetadata GimmeshelterDVDcover. ... A music festival is a festival that presents a number of musical performances usually tied together through a theme or genre. ... 1969 (MCMLXIX) was a common year starting on Wednesday (the link is to a full 1969 calendar). ... The Rolling Stones are an English band that rose to prominence during the British Invasion of the 1960s. ... The Grateful Dead was an American psychedelia-influenced rock band formed in 1965 in San Francisco. ... Carlos Santana in concert, Barcelona 2003 Carlos Augusto Alves Santana (born 20 July 1947) is a Mexican American Grammy Award-winning musician and Latin-rock guitarist. ... The Flying Burrito Brothers were an early country rock band, best known for their massively influential debut album, 1969s The Gilded Palace of Sin. ... Crosby, Stills, & Nash (sometimes known as Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young) is a pioneering folk rock/rock supergroup that formed out of the remnants of three 1960s bands the Buffalo Springfield, the Byrds, and the Hollies. ... Jefferson Airplane was an American rock band from San Francisco, a pioneer of the LSD-influenced psychedelic rock movement. ... Woodstock redirects here. ... David and Albert Maysles Brothers Albert and David Maysles were a documentary filmmaking team whose films include Salesman, Gimme Shelter and Grey Gardens. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... Gimme Shelter is the name of a documentary film directed by Albert and David Maysles, chronicling the Rolling Stones 1969 U.S. tour. ...

The event is best known for having been marred by violence, including one killing and three accidental deaths (two of the deaths were caused by a hit-and-run car accident, another death was the result of a drowning in a drainage ditch). There were also four births.



The concert occurred at the disused Altamont Speedway in Northern California, between Tracy and Livermore. It was originally scheduled to be held at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. However, the permits were never issued for the concert, or were revoked after the fact. This was a result of Mick Jagger of The Rolling Stones announcing in a press conference that they would be performing at the event; they were to be a surprise appearance. (Their American Tour of 1969 had recently concluded.) This article concerns the music festival. ... Northern California, refers to the northern portion of the U.S. state of California. ... Tracy is a city located in San Joaquin County, California. ... The city of Livermore highlighted within Alameda County Livermore is a city located in Alameda County, California. ... An aerial view of the Golden Gate Park The Golden Gate Park is the largest urban park in San Francisco, California, USA. At 1017 acres (4. ... This page is a candidate for speedy deletion. ... The Rolling Stones are an English band that rose to prominence during the British Invasion of the 1960s. ... The Rolling Stones 1969 American Tour (which seems to have had no official name) was a much publicised, written about, recorded, and filmed concert tour of the United States that took place during November 1969. ...

With the public revelation that the Stones would be performing, San Francisco city officials feared a repeat of the crowd control problems that occurred at Woodstock. Accusations have arisen that Jagger made this announcement to ensure a large crowd for a planned concert movie. The venue was then changed to the Sears Point Raceway, but after a dispute with the owner of Sears Point, Filmways, Inc., over film distribution rights, the festival was moved to the Altamont Raceway at the suggestion of its then-owner, local businessman Dick Carter. The concert was to take place on Saturday, Dec. 6; the location was switched on the night of Thursday, Dec. 4. This resulted in numerous logistical problems. Most importantly, facilities such as portable toilets and medical tents were lacking in number. The stage, which was only three to four feet high, was surrounded by the Hells Angels, led by Oakland chapter head Ralph 'Sonny' Barger, who acted as bouncers.[1] The sound system was hardly sufficient for such a large audience. Woodstock redirects here. ... Infineon Raceway, formerly Sears Point Raceway, is a road course and drag strip in the golden hills of northern California, near Sonoma, north of San Francisco. ... Filmways, Inc. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... Sonny Barger (born October 8, 1938) is a founding member of the original Oakland, California, USA chapter of Hells Angels (perhaps the most famous motorcycle club in the world), and perhaps the best-known member of the Hells Angels. ...

Hell's Angels

By some accounts, the Angels were hired by the Rolling Stones' road manager, Sam Cutler, for $500 and free beer, a story Carter and Barger both vehemently denied. Other accounts claim that the initial arrangement was for the Angels to watch over the equipment, but that Cutler later moved the Angels, and their beer, near the stage in order to settle them down or to protect the stage. Hells Angels had provided security at Grateful Dead shows in the past without reported violence, and some have speculated that the Rolling Stones thought that their experience with the Angels would be a peaceful affair, much in the way The Dead had experienced their presence. Unfortunately, The Dead did not set up the security, and the atmosphere at Altamont Raceway Park had none of the Dead's "take care of your fans" mindset. A selection of bottled beers A selection of cask beers Beer is the worlds oldest and most popular alcoholic beverage, selling more than 133 billion litres (35 billion gallons) per year. ... The Grateful Dead was an American psychedelia-influenced rock band formed in 1965 in San Francisco. ...

The crowd management proved to be a disaster: many spectators were injured and four were killed. Over the course of the day, the Hells Angels became increasingly agitated and violent due to a combination of alcohol and drugs, and perhaps due to a panic of not being able to control such an enormous crowd. The Angels used sawed-off pool cues in order to control the crowd. After one of the Angel's motor bikes was knocked over, the Angels allegedly became even more aggressive, even toward the performers onstage. Marty Balin of Jefferson Airplane was knocked unconscious following an altercation with an Angel right off the stage. The Grateful Dead refused to play following the Balin incident, and promptly left the venue. Marty Balin (born Martyn Jerel Buchwald on January 30, 1942, in Cincinnati, Ohio) is an American musician. ... Jefferson Airplane was an American rock band from San Francisco, a pioneer of the LSD-influenced psychedelic rock movement. ... The Grateful Dead was an American psychedelia-influenced rock band formed in 1965 in San Francisco. ...

The organizers hoped to ease tensions in the crowd by having the Stones perform early, but it took hours before the Stones could take the stage. Accusations that Mick Jagger did not want to take the stage during daylight hours due to the filming of the concert have been voiced in the past, but in commentary on the official Gimme Shelter DVD, it is reported that Stones bassist Bill Wyman was having difficulties reaching the venue. Bill Wyman (born William George Perks on 24 October 1936) was the bassist for the English rock and roll band The Rolling Stones from its founding in 1962 until 1991. ...

The death of Meredith Hunter

 Meredith Hunter
Meredith Hunter

The most famous death was that of Meredith Hunter. Hunter, an 18-year-old African American, became involved in an altercation with some Hells Angels and drew a long-barreled revolver. It is disputed whether or not Meredith drew his weapon before or after he was stabbed the first time. He was stabbed eighteen times in total and kicked to death during the Rolling Stones' performance. His graphic death near the stage was clearly captured on film by three separate cameras. The killer, Alan Passaro, was arrested and tried for murder in the summer of 1972, but was acquitted after a jury concluded he acted in self-defense because Hunter was carrying a handgun, drew it, and allegedly pointed it at the stage. It was also alleged that Hunter was under the influence of methamphetamines. Image File history File links Meredith_hunter. ... Image File history File links Meredith_hunter. ... Meredith Hunter Meredith Hunter (October 24, 1951 – December 6, 1969) was stabbed to death directly in front of the stage at the Altamont Speedway rock festival during the Rolling Stones performance. ... An African American (also Afro-American, Black American, or simply black), is a member of an ethnic group in the United States whose ancestors, usually in predominant part, were indigenous to Africa. ... The Colt Single Action Army, one of the most popular revolvers of all time For other uses, see Revolver (disambiguation). ... Alan Passaro Alan David Passaro (August 23, 1948 – March 29, 1985) was a notorious Hells Angels member famous for the 1969 stabbing of Meredith Hunter at the Altamont rock-festival during the Rolling Stones set. ... The examples and perspective in this article or section may not represent a worldwide view. ...

There had been rumors over the years that a second, unidentified assailant had inflicted the fatal wounds, and, as a result, the police considered the case to still be open. On 25 May 2005, the Alameda county sheriff's department announced that it was officially closing the stabbing case. Investigators, concluding a renewed two year investigation, dismissed the theory that a second Hells Angel took part in the stabbing. [2] May 25 is the 145th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (146th in leap years). ... 2005 (MMV) was a common year starting on Saturday of the Gregorian calendar. ...


Various news agencies reported the event as a "drug induced riot." The Rolling Stones, who reacted rather helplessly in the face of the brutality within the crowd, had to interrupt their performance numerous times. Unaware that Hunter's stabbing was fatal, they decided to continue to prevent a possible riot. The Altamont concert is often contrasted to the Woodstock festival that took place four months earlier, and is sometimes said to mark the end of the innocence embodied by Woodstock, or the de facto end of the 1960s. Critics therefore, called the tragedy the "Death of the Woodstock Nation". All future rock concerts were banned at the site, due to the tragedy. Woodstock redirects here. ... The 1960s decade refers to the years from 1960 to 1969, inclusive. ...

In popular culture, the events at Altamont have been frequently characterized as Hells Angels attacking innocent hippies. Various drugs were present at the event, some of which were of poor quality. These drugs were distributed to unsuspecting victims during the concert, with a resulting increase in "bad trips." Some Hells Angels acting as security guards were not only using some of these drugs, but were probably not the best people to handle these cases. Unlike Altamont, Woodstock's security had been provided by members of the hippie commune, the Hog Farm, led by Wavy Gravy, and it has been argued that fellow hippies would have been better able to deal with some of the security issues at Altamont because of their familiarity with LSD and "bad trips". A singer dresses in a stereotypical hippie outfit. ... Recreational drug use is the use of psychoactive drugs for recreational purposes rather than for work, medical or spiritual purposes, although the distinction is not always clear. ... A bad trip is a profoundly unpleasant experience using a hallucinogenic drug such as LSD or psilocybin, caused by one or more of the common undesired effects of the drug: Panic reaction Amplification of unconscious fears Self-aggression Suicidal ideation Fear of going insane or of the inability to return... Hog Farm is a hippie commune or collective in northern California, founded in the 1960s by Wavy Gravy and friends. ... Wavy Gravy Wavy Gravy (born Hugh Romney on May 15, 1936) is a life-long activist for peace and personal empowerment, best known for his hippie appearance, personality, and beliefs. ...

Several Grateful Dead songs were written about — or in response to — what lyricist Robert Hunter called "the Altamont affair," including "New Speedway Boogie," featuring the line, "One way or another, this darkness got to give," and the unrecorded "Mason's Children." Both of these songs were intended to be part of the early 1970 album Workingman's Dead, but "Mason's Children" was viewed as too "popular" stylistically. A later Dead song, "My Brother Esau," contains the line, "My brother Esau killed a hunter/Way back in 1969," perhaps a reference to the death of Meredith Hunter. Robert C. Hunter (born June 23, 1941) is an American lyricist, singer songwriter, and poet, best known for his association with Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead. ... Workingmans Dead (Warner Brothers 1969) is one of the most commercially successful albums by the American rock/folk group the Grateful Dead. ...

Also, while the lyrics are subject to interpretation, it seems likely the song American Pie makes reference to the deaths at the Altamont festival in the verse about the spell of "satan" (presumed to be Mick Jagger) that could not be broken by even an "angel born in hell" after a "sacrificial rite".[3] American Pie is an eight-and-a-half minute long classic rock song by singer-songwriter Don McLean, about the day the music died. Recorded in 1971 and released that year on the album of the same name, it was a number-one U.S. hit in 1972. ... Mick Jagger, 1995 Sir Michael Philip Mick Jagger (born 26 July 1943) is an English rock musician, actor, songwriter, record and film producer and businessman. ...


  1. ^ Gimme Shelter
  2. ^ USA TODAY, Investigators close decades old Altamont killing case
  3. ^ Annotated American Pie.

  Results from FactBites:
Altamont - definition of Altamont in Encyclopedia (457 words)
Altamont is a speedway in Northern California, near Livermore, that hosted a rock music festival in December 1969 which was marred by violence, including one murder.
The festival was originally supposed to be at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco.
The Altamont concert is often contrasted to the Woodstock festival that took place earlier in 1969, and is sometimes said to mark the end of the innocence embodied by Woodstock.
Altamont (disambiguation) - definition of Altamont (disambiguation) in Encyclopedia (101 words)
Altamont is also the name of several places.
Most famously, it is the name of the Altamont Music Festival of 1969.
This is a disambiguation page — a navigational aid which lists other pages that might otherwise share the same title.
  More results at FactBites »



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