"Sympathy for the Devil: The "The Rolling Stones at Altamont, Dec. 6, 1969"
The Rolling Stones Free Concert at Altamont Raceway was probably the definitive event of the turbulence of the '60's. What an exclamation mark on the decade it would have been if the assassination of Mick Jagger had succeeded as Meridith Hunter charged the stage with gun drawn! He's the lime green spot in front of Mick Jagger. Thank God for the Hells Angels...making enemies while saving lives. In addition to Alan Passaro thwarting the asssassination attempt on Jagger (too bad they weren't protecting RFK), they prevented a body count in the hundreds, if not thousands, including me. When people would climb those rickety camera towers with the 750 lb cameras on top, the Angels would chase them up and pull them off. I was under the tower on the right. Granted, who brings pool cues to a rock concert? but the Angels were still the villified heros of Altamont.
The crowd alternated between forward surges where you would be at a 25 degree or so angle to the ground, then surge backward to about the same. I was certain there was no way I would make it out alive, but hey, the Rolling Stones were playing, so I just grooved with the music! All the while I was convinced Jagger was in total control, making it probably the best single performance I have ever seen. I think the set list makes a good case for that, as the songs rise to a fever pitch, then back off in aggression. One of my most vivid memories was the person jumping or falling off the PA system during "Sympathy for the Devil." Legend has it that that's when Hunter rushed the stage, but it was actually during "Under My Thumb." That's what I attempt to show here.
This was the band lineup at Altamont, in order of appearance: Santana, Jefferson Airplane, The Flying Burrito Brothers, and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, with the Rolling Stones taking the stage as the final act.
This was the Set List for the Rolling Stones:
"Jumpin' Jack Flash"
"Sympathy for the Devil" (stopped then restarted because of fights breaking out)
"The Sun Is Shining"
"Stray Cat Blues"
"Love in Vain"
"Under My Thumb" (stopped then restarted because of fights breaking out)
"Brown Sugar" (first live performance)
"Live with Me"
"(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction"
"Honky Tonk Women"
"Street Fighting Man"