Video Saturday – The Stones Altamont Free Concert

 

So I took the Sony eReader on holiday with me to save having to find suitcase room for the four or five books I normally take abroad on such occasions (cue story of excess baggage charges at Manchester Airport one year), and its got thirty or so books loaded onto it, so plenty of poolside reading to get on with then all contained in one slim aluminium case weighing just a few ounces – technology eh, they’ll be putting a man on the moon next.

And then just a few weeks before we go our Ned comes around the house and hands me the Keith Richards biography, its a huge tome, 500 or so pages long, and its the hardback version so it weighs almost as much as my suitcase and while I’d love to take it on holiday with me the Thomson Air 5kg hand luggage allowance just isn’t going to cope with that.

So I get sneaky and carry the book in my left hand when I’m checking the bags in and because the dust cover on the book had been annoying me by falling off all week I’d left it at home, so I’m stood at check-in and the girl is asking me to place my bags on the scales for weighing and all she can see is that I’m carrying a large black hardback book in my left hand that looks for all the world as though it could be a bible, I smile and act Priestly and she never mentions the huge book, its a bible alright, the bible of Keith Richards life…

Its a great book, written (or at least dictated) by himself, you can always tell in a biog whether the person themselves has been actively involved and this one has, and there is a chapter in the book dedicated to the disaster that was The Stones free concert at the Altamont Speedway, Nthn California in 1969 in which a drug and beer fuelled Hells Angel gang were awarded the contract to provide security to the band and managed to kill one of the spectators as part of the package provided.

Not that it was as cut and dried as that – the spectator, Meredith Hunter was also high on amphetamine, had been punched and kicked earlier in the gig  down at the front of the stage and returned with a gun at which point he was overpowered by a number of Hells Angels members and stabbed several times, all of which was discovered several days later when a film of the event had been developed and was being edited – the film being made was “Gimme Shelter” from which this clip is taken.

Keith Richards in his biography doesn’t go into quite so much detail, explaining that “This cat appeared with a gun, man, and something happened there in front of us and we found out later that he’d died” and then they all got in a helicopter and went home…

 

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