Keith Richards recalled the Rolling Stones' infamous 1969 Altamont Speedway concert, during a recent appearance on Britain's Absolute Radio. The band's free concert on December 6th, 1969 a Livermore, California is mainly remembered for the violence instigated by the Hell's Angels motorcycle gang, whom the Stones had hired as security -- and the murder of 18-year-old concert-goer Meredith Hunter by Hell's Angel Alan Passaro. Passaro was later acquitted of the stabbing after claiming he acted in self-defense.
Richards recalled the band being extremely on edge as the crowds started to surge, due to the continuous scuffles between the fans and the bikers: "I don't know if it was scary, it was just like, 'Wow you have got to do something about this before it turns into a full scale riot. We handled it the best way we could. Basically I just stopped playing and it happened to work. . . As events turned out security wasn't what it should be."
Although Meredeth Hunter was killed only yards away from the band, the show went on -- mainly, as the Stones have said over the years, more violence would've occurred had they quit. Richards explained: "We didn't know the cat was dead or anything, but we saw what was going on. . . It was a matter of quick do something, and distract people from the Hells Angels."
Both Mick Jagger and Keith Richards sought to get the crowd in line so that the Stones could play their set: "(Mick Jagger): People, who's fighting and what for?! Why are we fighting?! Why are we fighting?! We don't want to fight! Come on! Who wants to fight? (crowd noise) Every other scene has been cool. . ." (Keith Richards): "Look, cat. . . That guy there, if he doesn't stop it man! Listen man, either those cats cool it, or we don't play!" (crowd noise). (Hell's Angel): "Hey, if y'don't cool it, y'ain't gonna hear no music! Now y'all wanna go home or what?!" (Crowd noise) (Announcer): "We need doctors down here now please. Can we have a doctor now to the front?" (Crowd noise) )The bill at Altamont also included Santana, the Jefferson Airplane, the Flying Burrito Brothers, and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.
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