ROLLING STONES: Tragic End to '60s

The '60s unofficially ended 50 years ago Friday -- December 6th, 1969 -- with a disastrous (and murderous)Rolling Stones concert in Northern California.

To cap off a U.S. tour, they did a free concert at Altamont Speedwayin Tracy, 60 miles east of San Francisco. Billed as "Woodstock West," it drew 300,000 people and included performances by Jefferson Airplane,Santana and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.

Originally scheduled for San Francisco's Golden Gate Park, it was moved after the Stones agreed to perform. The plan was to stage it in Sonoma, California, but that also fell through, which is why it ended up at the Altamont Speedway with just 36 hours to build the infrastructure. And following the advice of The Grateful Dead, the Stones hired the Hell's Angels motorcycle gang to provide security in front of the stage in exchange for $500 worth of beer.

With numerous concert-goers tripping on a deadly combination of bad acid and speed, there was anything but peace and love in the air that day.

Upon arriving at the site in the afternoon,Mick Jagger was punched in the face by a man who said he hated the singer, and Jefferson Airplane singer Marty Balin was knocked unconscious by a member of the Angels.

There were four deaths, including the fatal stabbing in front of the stage of 18-year old African-American Meredith Hunter by Angel Alan Passaro after Hunter raised a gun while the Stones performed “Under My Thumb.” Passaro was eventually acquitted of the murder charge.

The stabbing is chronicled in the Stones' movie Gimme Shelter.

Mick Taylor of The Rolling Stones remembers Altamont:

 

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