In A Nutshell
In 1969, The Rolling Stones headlined a concert at the Altamont Speedway in California. The event turned into a disaster when a member of the Hells Angels, who had been hired as security, stabbed a gun-toting audience member. When The Stones’ lead singer Mick Jagger spoke out against the biker gang following the incident, they hatched a plot to murder him.
The Whole Bushel
On Saturday December 6, 1969, a free concert was held at California’s Altamont Speedway. Featuring acts like Santana and Jefferson Airplane, the concert was set to culminate with The Rolling Stones as the closing act. The concert, which aimed to be a “Woodstock of the West” instead managed to be the death knell of the hippie generation.
As the day went on, the crowd, which numbered some 300,000, descended into a madness fueled by drugs and alcohol. Fights broke out and audience members tried to charge the stage, which was being protected by the Hells Angels. Although various sources dispute the issue, legend has it that the outlaw bikers were hired to provide security at the event for the bargain basement price of $500 worth of beer.
One audience member intent on joining The Rolling Stones was 18-year-old Meredith Hunter, who was jacked up on methamphetamine. His initial charge was met with a beating from the bikers, who chased him back. Meredith’s girlfriend begged him to stop, but according to her, he was “so high he could barely walk.” He returned to attack the bikers with a .22-caliber revolver, reportedly firing off at least one shot. Hells Angel Alan Passaro intercepted Hunter’s lethal charge, stabbing the teenager five times and then viciously beating him. The attack that was caught on film and featured in the documentary Gimme Shelter, and Hunter died at the scene. Passaro was charged with murder, but acquitted on the basis of self defense. Alan Passaro died in 1985 after drowning in the Anderson Reservoir in Santa Clara County. His death was labeled suspicious, but has gone unprosecuted.
In 2008, FBI agent Mark Young revealed that the Hells Angels plotted to kill Mick Jagger in the aftermath of the incident, angered when Jagger went on the record as saying he’d never again hire the Angels to provide security. A group of bikers attempted to land a boat outside the singer’s Hamptons, Long Island holiday estate, where they planned to enter from the rear to bypass the security at the entrance of the mansion. Luckily for Mick, their boat was hit by a storm, and the men were swept overboard. The Angels survived, but the plot to kill the Jagger was scrapped.