The Rolling Stones’ infamous 1969 free concert at the Altamont speedway has become mythologized as “the end of the 60s,” a symbolic counterweight to the romanticized images of peace, love and Woodstock. But a detailed new book from veteran San Francisco music writer Joel Selvin shows that the full story of the event is much more complicated.
Two contemporary accounts of the Altamont concert and its woes, although flawed, have formed the basis for most public perception about the event more than 45 years ago. Selvin says he set out to provide a more nuanced and detailed account.
In addition to interviews with as many of the surviving players of that drama as he could reach—including a lengthy session with Rock Scully not long before his death—Selvin found a trove of unpublicized information in the records of the Alameda County Sherriff’s Department’s investigation of what happened at the event.
The longtime rock music critic for the San Francisco Chronicle, Selvin also digs deep into the managerial maneuvering that led up to the ill-fated concert, and concludes that it was interference from the Stones’ camp that set it on a fatally flawed path.