Anonymous, USA, Altamont Music Festival 1969
We thought Altamont was going to be an extension of the peace and love that was touted for Woodstock. After all, it was only a few months after the famous Woodstock festival that used the tagline “Three Days of Peace and Music” to promote the event. Altamont was different, though. I went there because I couldn’t make it to Woodstock in August. Besides, Altamont had bands that I associated with more than the ones at Woodstock. I wasn’t part of the counter-culture that protested the current Vietnam War and I wasn’t one of the ones that continuously questioned authority. I was 25 at the time, so I was past that already.
The headlining group at the free Altamont concert was The Rolling Stones. The Hell’s Angels were hired as security, but that proved to be more of a problem than a solution. Since the Hell’s Angels were the only form of security at the concert, there was nobody to keep them in check. I don’t know what the organizers were thinking. The Hell’s Angels were known for they unruliness. That would be almost like hiring one of the urban gangs of today to do security for an event. When the concert ended, there were at least three people dead. One of those people – a young African-American – was brutally beaten to death by the Hell’s Angels with their trademark broken pool cues. I didn’t see it. I was more towards the back of the crowd and this happened towards the front. But I remember Mick Jagger asking for an ambulance and then the show continuing. I remember hearing all the stories of people being trampled. When I first got to the concert, I wanted to be as close as I could. But when it was over, I was thankful I was way in the back. So much for carrying on the Woodstock spirit of peace and love.