It was 51 years ago Sunday (December 6th, 1969) that the Rolling Stones held their ill-fated free concert at the Altamont Speedway in Livermore, California. The bill, which also included Santana, the Jefferson Airplane, the Flying Burrito Brothers, and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, is mainly remembered for the violence instigated by the Hells Angels motorcycle gang, whom the Stones had hired as security — and the murder of concert-goer Meredith Hunter by Hells Angel Alan Passaro. Passaro was later acquitted of the stabbing after claiming he acted in self-defense.
The Stones' Madison Square Garden shows and the Altamont event were filmed by filmmakers Albert Maysles, David Maysles, Charlotte Zwerin, and assisted by George Lucas, among others. The film was released in 1970 as Gimme Shelter.
At the New York City press conference on November 26th, 1969, Mick Jagger said he thought that the free Northern California concert would follow in the footsteps of the Woodstock festival, in terms of how people would get along: (Mick Jagger): We are doing a free concert in San Francisco. . . (Reporter): When? (Mick Jagger): December 6th — and the location is not Golden Gate Park, unfortunately, but it someplace adjacent to it which is a bit larger. . . It's creating a sort of a microcosmic society, y'know, which, it sets an example to the rest of America as to how one can behave in large gatherings.”