Monday, November 28, 2011

Gillian's Found Photo #67


Today's found photo from the Fang bears the date, printed on the right side of the border, of December '69, as if we couldn't have figured that out our self. Yes, this was taken at Altamont, the all time rock festival bummer and setting for still the greatest of all rock snuff flicks Gimme Shelter. Too bad it's not a picture of the Stones, but since they went on after dark they probably wouldn't have shown up on a snap shot.  Onstage is Sam Cutler trying to restore order, and the Jefferson Airplane, whose Marty Balin (far left) would soon be knocked unconscious, a few Hells Angels, and a whole bunch of folks who just wandered onstage. Whose idea was it to make the stage two inches off the ground?
Well, I was never much of a Jefferson Airplane fan but I do remember working security at one of their concerts as a teen and being quite impressed that the band and crew called Paul Kanter "Das Fuhrer", a title he happily responded to.  The best thing I ever read about Altamont was in the (now quite rare) Avon paperback original-- The Forgotten Festival- Altamont: Death Of Innocence In The Woodstock Nation, edited by Jonathan Eisen (Avon, 1970) which contains a first hand essay by one Lars Tush, aka Richard Meltzer titled "The Terror Beyond Death", from which I quote--"Some people are going to say it was just a matter of alcohol in the wrong hands. That's all well and good and true, but whose wrong hands do they mean? Can they mean the Angels? They might mean them and in so doing forget about incidents of violence that were going on all afternoon, all morning and the night before, even in spots where a Hells Angels never showed his face during the entire festival if you can call it that." He later proceeds to describe watching a bunch of college jocks pummel some poor kid into "a pile of his own blood and bones". As Keith Richards said "Altamont, it could only happen to the Stones man...."

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Jim, Sam Cutler's memoirs are worth a night's reading. Nobody comes off well, and an attempt by Cutler to blame bad acid and the FBI for the mess seems sort of a stretch, but fun for the conspiracy minded. The ineptitude of everyone involved is still stunning all these years later.
"Brothers and sisters COOL OUT"
Doug NJ

Anonymous said...

I was in the vicinity and would have gone but was scheduled for a go at the GRE that day in order to evade the draft and life outside academe. Bombed the test. A friend shot some Super 8 footage that was included in the Maysleys Brothers film.

Donna Lethal said...

That fat naked guy is unforgettable image. I talked to Al Maysles at length about this one day and how they sat watching the footage of pure pandemonium. Not just the Angels.

J. D. King said...

Odd that someone would toss that photo out. I guess they weren't big on The Airplane, too?

Anonymous said...

Hey, check out this Altamont-related sound installation.

http://martinblandsrct.blogspot.com/2008/12/oamtanlt-198-by-martin-blands.html

Simme Ghelter said...

"Lead singer Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones, who had already been punched by a concert goer within seconds of emerging from his helicopter" ---

Someone by that fist a drink !

Anonymous said...

yeah Keith, it's all about the Stones. Actually, the real forgotten festival was the Atlanta Pop Festival in July of '69, before WOodstock. Things went much better than Woostock or Altamont, except for some extreme temps. They sprayed the crowds and handed out salt tablets. I guess there's a good reason why everyone would like to forget Altamont, though.

Gramercy7 said...

That Meltzer essay not included in his 2000 anthology A WHORE JUST LIKE THE REST? Too bad...

Let's Hear It For The Orchestra

Let's Hear It For The Orchestra
copyright Hound Archive