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The crazy day the Rolling Stones hired the Hells Angels for security

“They shouldn't have hired a barbaric group if they didn't want to. Mick Jagger used us as cheaters! We were just stupid for agreeing to this. But he turned out to be more stupid! He's just an idiot!"

What really happened the day the Rolling Stones made the mistake of hiring the Hells Angels

End 1960's was remembered by the foreign public for a number of reasons, among which were Woodstock и... Altamont Festival. And if the first one preached “Summer of Love”, then the second one completely erased any traces of it, going down in history as the most cruel and scandalous rock concert ... It was a turning point both for music in general and for "Hell's Angels" - the infamous biker group. The Rolling Stones hired them to provide security, but bitterly regretted it as a result. Instead of this hells angels brought chaos and destruction...

background

Altamont 1969
Altamont 1969

Free rock festival Altamont took place December 6, 1969 on a remote race track in Northern California. Planned to be the West Coast's answer to Woodstock, the organizers hired some of the most popular bands of the day, including Jefferson Airplane, Santana and Rolling Stones. Alas, rollers made the wrong decision when they hired Hells Angels bikers as bodyguards. Instead of appeasing the public, they headed chaos.

Altamont 1969, on stage with the Rolling Stones and the Hells Angels
Altamont 1969, on stage with the Rolling Stones and the Hells Angels

Actually, Rolling Stones didn't want to riot! They just hired the wrong angels. Shortly before the Altamont festival, the Rolling Stones went on a comeback tour and hired a band that called themselves "Hell's Angels", as a guard for a show in Hyde Park, London. And they sincerely did not suspect that this group did not have no relation to California bikers, and even more so does not share their temperament. But when it came to Altamont, rock 'n' rollers got involved with the real Hells Angels, and as a result, the rock festival turned into riots ...

Scared Mick Jagger
Scared Mick Jagger

And only as the bikers' behavior got worse did the Rolling Stones realize what they had done. mistake.

The Angels were paid in beer

Riots at Altamont 1969
Riots at Altamont 1969

As payment for their security services, Altamont's organizers gave "Hell's Angels" supply of beer 500 dollars. But at the same time, the bikers were not given specific instructions about how exactly they should do their job... According to legend, when asked "how exactly should they handle the crowd", the Rolling Stones road manager Sam Cutler allegedly said, “We don’t care. Just keep these people away." This was key to freedom.

Problems with the police and doctors

People go to Altamont 1969
People go to Altamont 1969

The organizers have chosen a race track Altamont Speedway as a venue just 36 hours before the actual festival. The place was remote, barren and completely unsuitable for such events. But this was of little concern. Even basic amenities such as toilets, food or water were out of the question. Soon a stage was erected, but it was ridiculous and ridiculous, only hip high! Because of this, many viewers were unable to see the performers as the crowd grew. And the only thing that separated the crowd from the stage was a thin rope, which was subsequently removed. The place was in 42 miles from the bay area, thousands of people were driving here in cars, there were terrible traffic jams ... And the almost complete absence of police. The Alameda County sheriffs who were present at Altamont felt so outnumbered by hells angelsthat did not dare to intervene. It exaggerated... From the memoirs of a journalist and critic Greil Marcus:

“People were unfriendly, selfish – just the complete opposite of Woodstock, where I was just a few months ago!”

Altamont 1969
Altamont 1969

There were problems not only with the police, but also with physicianswhich, as it turned out, were needed at the festival more than ever! Many people had wounds and fractures, and all thanks to the Hells Angels. But most striking negligence organizers: they provided only four medical tents, categorically refused to give access to a helicopter for emergencies, did not provide a communication system and refused to turn on the lights backstage so that doctors could properly see their patients ...

The tragic outcome of Meredith Hunter

Meredith Hunter, who died at the Rolling Stones concert...
Meredith Hunter, who died at the Rolling Stones concert...

18 year old African American teenager named Meredith Hunter came to the festival with his girlfriend. When they took the stage Rolling Stones, the guy, trying to get a better view, climbed onto one of the speakers next to the stage, but was immediately thrown off "Angel". Soon, Hunter was surrounded by bikers, and he took out a weapon from his pocket, which he brought with him for self-defense. Unfortunately, in response, he received a deep wound ... Several spectators tried to help the young man: they carried him to the medical tent, but several "Angels" reportedly blocked the shortest path and did not let them through. And when Hunter was finally taken to the doctors, it was too late: He passed away before the Rolling Stones finished their performance...

A few months later, the court acquitted "Angel" Alana Passaro, who is allegedly responsible for the death of a teenager. According to Hunter's family, neither Rolling Stones, nor anyone else involved in the Altamont organization expressed condolences and didn't apologize.

Bikers are furious

Altamont 1969 Hells Angels ride motorcycles through the crowd
Altamont 1969 Hells Angels ride motorcycles through the crowd

"Angels" began to show their strength from the very beginning of the show. They are selected money and substances from all those who made the mistake of carrying them openly. And since in Altamont there was no power above hells angels, the victims had no choice but to silently agree to the terms of the distraught bikers ... At some point, the Angels decided to park their motorcycles… right next to the stage! And it ended with the fact that people who wanted to be closer to their idols started kicking them - some by accident, and some not. This led the already wild "Angels" to fury... Mass brawls began.

Riots at Altamont 1969
Riots at Altamont 1969

As a result, it came to the point that the "Angels" imagined themselves kings shows and began walking around the stage during sets. They snatched microphones people trying to make announcements had motorcycle engines running while the bands were playing, muting the music... One photographer took a picture of the bikers and ended up having his film confiscated and his face swollen. Somewhere from 100 to 200 "Angels" stood on the stage throughout the show, leaving a very little space for, actually, performances of groups.

Attacks on musicians

Altamont 1969
Altamont 1969

Though doom Meredith Hunter was the most memorable incident at Altamont, it was far from the only time someone got hurt. Three more people died at the event, two of whom were victims collision in the parking lot. Got from the "Angels" and the musicians themselves. From memories Mick Taylor:

“Right after we got off the helicopter – I was with Mick and we had a couple of guards with us – some guy broke through and punched Jagger in the face!”

One member of the Hells Angels poked a few times Stephen Stills in the leg with a bicycle spoke. Pregnant Denise Jukes from Ace of Cups suffered a fractured skull due to a thrown beer bottle… During a performance Jefferson Airplane vocalist Marty Balin noticed the bikers attacking a man near the stage. The musician rushed to help, but immediately received a deafening blow and went "knocked out." The rest of the speech passed without his participation. All this led to a riot - only now from the side of the artists.

The musicians refused to perform

Altamont 1969, Hells Angels
Altamont 1969, Hells Angels

Although they helped organize the event, Grateful Dead did not appear at the Altamont Festival. Planning to take the stage after the Rolling Stones, they saw disorder and decided not to play. The group returned to their helicopter and left this mad place. Later, many accused the rockers of abandoning their fans without doing anything to remedy the situation. But could they stop this madness? Hardly... In the meantime, the musicians raised a real rebellion. From memories Carlos Santana:

“We had to stop the performance every now and then, because the audience was more than inadequate! There, near the stage, there were terrible riots - people were fighting, brandishing weapons! At some point, I lost the meaning of the song being performed, and just stared at the guy brandishing the blade - his face stretched into a wild smile, and his eyes were looking for someone who was ready to go out with him in a duel ... Everyone already did not care about the music. Everyone wanted to throw out adrenaline ... "

In turn, the above Mick Taylor said:

“It was a disaster. We had to stop every song. "Hey, if you don't cool down, you won't hear the music!" Richards shouted during another pause. We wanted to leave the stage as soon as possible... It was absolutely barbaric! It was impossible to enjoy the music or anything else because most of the atrocities took place in front of the stage, right in front of our eyes!”

Assassination attempt on Mick Jagger

Mick Jagger at Altamont 1969
Mick Jagger at Altamont 1969

Stories of riots that took place on the site reached Rolling Stones at their hotel a few hours before they took the stage. The group even considered refuse from performing, but their commitment to the organizers and fans convinced them to take it to end. Thereafter Mick Jagger tried to distance himself from the incident and swore he would never hire the Hells Angels again in his life. But his statement made me very angry. "Angels". They considered that they deceived!

“They shouldn't have hired a barbaric group if they didn't want to. Mick Jagger used us as cheaters! We were just stupid for agreeing to this. But he turned out to be more stupid! He's just an idiot! ”- expressed his dissatisfaction with the “Angel” Sonny Barger.

Sonny Barger
Sonny Barger

As a result hells angels planned an attempt on their offender: the bikers planned to ambush Jagger in his country house on Long Island, and even got a boat, plotting to penetrate private property from the sea. But nature itself stood up for the vocalist Rolling Stones: An unexpected assault thwarted their plan when rough waves capsized the boat and forced the butcher group back to land. FBI kept the failed attempt a secret for years and never told Jagger how close his end was...

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