The Rolling Stones, the Hells Angels, and the Inside Story of Rock's Darkest Day

Book - 2016 | First edition.
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In this breathtaking cultural history filled with exclusive, never-before-revealed details, celebrated rock journalist Joel Selvin tells the definitive story of the Rolling Stones' infamous Altamont concert, the disastrous historic event that marked the end of the idealistic 1960s.

In the annals of rock history, the Altamont Speedway Free Festival on December 6, 1969, has long been seen as the distorted twin of Woodstock--the day that shattered the Sixties' promise of peace and love when a concertgoer was killed by a member of the Hells Angels, the notorious biker club acting as security. While most people know of the events from the film Gimme Shelter, the whole story has remained buried in varied accounts, rumor, and myth--until now.

Altamont explores rock's darkest day, a fiasco that began well before the climactic death of Meredith Hunter and continued beyond that infamous December night. Joel Selvin probes every aspect of the show--from the Stones' hastily planned tour preceding the concert to the bad acid that swept through the audience to other deaths that also occurred that evening--to capture the full scope of the tragedy and its aftermath. He also provides an in-depth look at the Grateful Dead's role in the events leading to Altamont, examining the band's behind-the-scenes presence in both arranging the show and hiring the Hells Angels as security.

The product of twenty years of exhaustive research and dozens of interviews with many key players, including medical staff, Hells Angels members, the stage crew, and the musicians who were there, and featuring sixteen pages of color photos, Altamont is the ultimate account of the final event in rock's formative and most turbulent decade.

Publisher: New York :, Dey St.,, [2016]
Edition: First edition.
Copyright Date: ©2016
ISBN: 9780062444257
Characteristics: x, 358 pages : illustrations (chiefly colour)


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Jan 05, 2017

Excellent read - sums up Altamont Concert very well. Recommend

Oct 31, 2016

Being a long time Stones fan, I thought I knew alot about the Altamont fiasco. The involvement of the Angels as security was the first of many mistakes. Also learned of all the machinations in choosing a venue, Sears Point would have been ideal, but the Stones would not have gotten movie money out of the deal. Was surprised that the Stones were blissfully ignorant of the consequences
of the concert. Also learned quite a bit about the Dead and their sorry financial state and how the Dead's philosophy changed after the event.

Must agree with other reviewers, that this was the end of the counter culture, bringing in Nixon, escalation in Viet-nam etc.

One should watch "Gimme Shelter" if one has more interest in the event; I know I will.

A must read if you love the Bay Area and its history, good go together with "Season of the Witch"

Oct 14, 2016

The new book “Altamont,” by Joel Selvin, takes me back to my senior year and the day of my SAT test, held the same day at San Jose State, in a cold lecture hall. I was very sad not to be able to attend such a monumental event at the time, but after reading this book, I’m mostly glad I missed the hourslong traffic jam and hiking cold miles to a bare plain of ranches east of Oakland. All to arrive in the midst of involuntary drugging going on and the Hells Angels beating on band members, roadies and audience members, one of whom did not survive a knife attack filmed on stage. The Altamont story has been mostly defined by the Maysles Brothers movie, “Gimme Shelter.” But Selvin, a veteran Bay Area music journalist, tells a much bigger, rounder story of what happened over the weeks and hours leading up to this pilgrimage of a good quarter million party-hardy neo-hippies, and the violent deaths of four of the pilgrims. He provides an exhaustive but careful telling of how the Hells Angels got involved and ultimately cut ties with the San Francisco counterculture. He makes a convincing argument that neither the headlining Rolling Stones nor the no-showing Grateful Dead were the same band after the festival, itself just the last of the major generation-shifting events of 1969: Nixon sworn in, the Santa Barbara oil spill, People’s Park and Stonewall riots, the moon landing, the Manson murders, more Vietnam protests and the Mai Lai Massacre. No wonder the dark story of Altamont still represents “the end of the ’60s” and the Bay Area hippie dream.

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