The iconic 1969 event took a turn for the worst as violent incidents led to injuries and fatalities.
Over their lengthy history, The Rolling Stones have delivered several spectacular performances, including their 1969 US Tour, which they concluded with a free concert in California. During the Altamont Speedway Free Festival in 1969, they were joined by the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Crosby, Stills, and, Nash, and Young. Now, new footage from the event has come to light.
Although Altamont may have left Jefferson Airplane with a sad recollection of their career, it doesn’t mean they didn’t rock it to its fullest potential. Ask any of the participants in the incident, and they will all quickly acknowledge how horrible and traumatizing it was. A free event dubbed “Woodstock West” was attended by more than 300,000 people at Altamont Speedway, which was hailed as “the new Woodstock.” The Rolling Stones documentary by the Maysles brothers, which wrapped up with the event, was seen as a suitable conclusion to their body of work.
The Flying Burrito Brothers, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Santana, the Stones, the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, and the lineup of the Grateful Dead and the Grateful Dead are all really fantastic bands. However owing to how chaotic the stage became as a result of the hired security, known as Hell’s Angels, what first appeared to be an innocent, enjoyable, and eagerly anticipated performance turned out to be one of the greatest nightmares in rock history.
Using everything else they could find, the Angels beat up scores of concertgoers. Marty Balin of Jefferson Airplane was knocked. Stephen Stills was repeatedly stabbed in the leg by an unidentified angel using a sharpened bicycle spoke. There were four fatalities. A young man drowned in a canal used for irrigation. Two men were killed in a hit-and-run after the performance. Before the Stones finished playing, a black 18-year-old named Meredith Hunter was fatally wounded by Alan Passaro, a member of the security team who was a Hells Angel.
For Grace Slick, the whole day was a bad experience. She said, “They said Altamont was the end of an era, which more or less is true, It coincided with the way things rise and fall. Everything does that. Look at the Roman Empire. Sometimes it takes two years, sometimes it takes 500. Everything is born, rises, and then dies.”
Giving credit where credit is due entails appreciating the music that was provided by the festival. Watch this performance by Jefferson Airplane to take a trip down memory lane.