Disaster at the West Coast Woodstock
The Rolling Stones topped the bill at Altamont Speedway in Livermore, California on 6th December, 1969 - a free festival intended to rival the recent Woodstock in New York. But it was an organisational shambles, and turned deadly when an audience member was murdered.
Notorious gang Hell’s Angels had been hired (allegedly in return for free beer) to provide ‘security’ for the event. They sat on a tiny stage, badly positioned in the pit of the racetrack, and attacked the crowds with billiard cues. Jefferson Airplane got pummeled. Mick Jagger was punched in the face.
In this episode, Arion, Rebecca and Olly explain how the movie rights for Gimme Shelter lay behind the ill-judged decision to relocate the festival with just two days’ notice; evaluate the Stones’ limited commentary on the disarray, and 18 year old Meredith Hunter’s death; and consider whether this regrettable event really did represent ‘the end of the 60s’...
- ‘The Altamont Free Concert, A Deadly End To The Hippie Era In America’ (AllThatsInteresting, 2018): https://allthatsinteresting.com/altamont-speedway-free-concert
- ‘Remembering Meredith Hunter, the Fan Killed at Altamont’ (Rolling Stone, 2018): https://www.rollingstone.com/feature/remembering-meredith-hunter-the-fan-killed-at-altamont-630260/
• ‘Altamont Speedway Free Festival 12/6/1969’ (Concerts Rock, 2021): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C28jTm6zRB8
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The Retrospectors are Olly Mann, Rebecca Messina & Arion McNicoll, with Matt Hill.
Theme Music: Pass The Peas. Announcer: Bob Ravelli. Graphic Design: Terry Saunders. Edit Producer: Sophie King.
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