The Legend of Altamont 1969

Thanks and dedication to "The Cerebral Hush"

The events leading up to Altamont and it's tragic ending are well documented in the Maysles Brothers "Gimme Shelter" movie. Here, we will focus on what was happening while the show was being performed, what was being said on the stage, and what the audience expected at a free concert on a winter's day in the quiet outskirts of Livermore, California.

Here lies the detailed transcription of that fateful night. The music, the words, and the enduring outcome that essentially defined an end to a generation.

Sam Cutler just before announcing the show: ... along the back of the stage and everybody else who's on this stage will be getting off it.
Now could we kindly get that together? Now please.
We're wasting time and the sun is setting, and The Rolling Stones want to get on this stage and play some music

Cutler: 1..., 2..., I'd like to introduce to everybody, from Britain, The Rolling Stones.
Jagger: All right, whoooo, ooooh ba-by, Awe yeah.
Jagger: Awe-oh, so pleased to see you all. Whooo.
Okay? Yeah, I'm ready.
All right Mick? All right?

Comment: Cutler does not introduce the band as: "The Greatest Rock 'n' Roll Band In The World" on this cold night.
He had clearly had enough by the time the Stones got to the stage that day.

Jumpin' Jack Flash

I was born, in a cross-fire hurricane
And I howled at my ma' in the driving rain
But it's all right, yeah it's all right, in fact it's a gas
But it's all right, yeah it's all right
I'm Jumpin' Jack Flash, it's a gas, gas, gas...

Jagger: Ohhh..., yeah..., oohhh babies
There's so many of you
Just be cool down the front, now don't push around
Just keep still, keep together
Ohhh yeah


Oh carol, don't let 'em steal you heart away
Well I'm gonna learn to dance if it takes me all night and day
Dive into my machine so we can groove on out
I know a swingin' joint we can jump and shout
It's takes you far back on the highway, not so long a ride
You park the car in the open, you can walk inside
A little cutie takes your hat and you can thank her ma'am
Every time you make the scene you find the joint is jammed
Oohh Carol, don't let 'em steal your heart away
Why I got to learn to dance if take me, night and day...

Jagger: Whooo! Whooo! Oh yeah, I'd like to drink, ahh drink one to you, all!

Sympathy For The Devil I

Please allow me to introduce myself
I'm a man of wealth and taste
Been around for a long long year
Stole many a man's soul and faith
I was 'round when Jesus Christ had his moment of doubt and pain
(There is microphone jostling here, crowd screaming can be heard through the stage mic.'s.
The song is stopped at this point)

Jagger: Hey! Hey! Keith, Keith will you cool it? Stop playing.
Hey, Keith, Keith, Keith, Keith will you cool it and I'll try and stop it
Hey, hey people, sisters, brothers and sisters, brothers and sisters, come-on now!
That means everybody just cool out!
They're fighting alot
Will you cool out everybody?
Richards: They're fightin' alot man
I know, I'm hip
Everybody be cool now, c'mon
All right? How are we doing over there? All right?
Can we still make it down the front?
Can we still collect ourselves everybody?
Can everyone just, I don't know what happened
I couldn't see, but I hope you're all right
Are you all right?
Crowd: Yeah
Okay, let's just give, let's just give ourselves like
We'll give ourselves another half a minute before we get our breath back
Everyone just cool down and easy
Is there anyone there that hurt? Huh?
Everyone all right? Okay? All right?
I think we're a cool we can go'e (go - groove)
We're always happens, something very funny happens when we start that number. Ahhh haaa...Okay, we'll go.

(Comment: It is clear in Jagger's voice that he is genuinely concerned about what is happening in the crowd. He is still excited about things at this point as he jokes at the end of his dialogue about the song delineating utter mayhem caused by the devil.)

"I'm with the band..."

Sympathy For The Devil II

Please allow me to introduce myself
I'm a man of wealth and taste
Been around for a long long year
Stole many a man's soul and faith
I was 'round when Jesus Christ had his moment of doubt and pain
Made damn sure, that Pilate, washed his hands, sealed his fate
Pleased to meet you baby ahh, hope you guess a my name, aahh yeah
A what been puzzling you all is just the, nature of my gaaa-aame, aahh yeah...
(The song is a complete run-through this time - Mick Taylor's ending solo has been edited/shortened in the Gimme Shelter movie)

Jagger: All right
Richards: Man if you can't cool that
Background: They're lookin' for a 5 year old girl with a...
Richards: Who's those, who's friends are those?
Jagger: I mean like people, who's fighting and what for?
Jagger: Who's fighting and what for?
Girl in the crowd: Everybody
Jagger: Why are we fighting!
Why are we fighting!
We don't want to fight, come-on!
Crowd: Doctor!
Do we want, who wants to fight, who is it?
Crowd: Hey man.
Jagger: Hey, you know, I mean like, every other scene has been cool, like
We've got to stop right now, we've got to stop them right now, you know
(Comment: Jagger is implying that the crowd, the people, also need to stop the Hells Angels)
And you know, we can't, there's no point
Cutler: Can I suggest a compromise please?
Can I ask please to speak to the...
(Comment: Leader/"manager" of the Hells Angels? Really?)
Crowd: We need a doctor! Doctor!
Richards: Listen, either those guys cool it man or we don't play, you know
I mean there's not that many of 'em, you know
Look cat, that guy there, if he doesn't stop it man... .
Crowd: Man - We need a doctor. Woman - Need a doctor...
Richards: c'mon
Angel: Huh?
Just gotta like...
Angel: This guy, the one with the bald head?
Richards: What? I just want him to stop pushing people around man
(Comment: Richards is speaking to an Angel about an Angel)
Off mic.: Hey we need a doctor
Guy at the mic.: Hey if you don't cool it, you ain't gonna hear no music. Now you all wanna go home or what?
Another man at the mic.: We need doctors down here now please, can we have a doctor here now to the front?
Sounds like race track owner Dick Carter off mic.: Hey you know what... we're trying... You know, you know what I mean. Hey that's what we're trying to do like you
Cutler: The doctor is going through in a green jumper and he is just here waving his hand in the air, look
Can you let the doctor go through please, and let him get to the person who's hurt?
Off mic.: There's a little girl that's 5 who's walking around here
Cutler: We've also lost, in the front here, a little girl who's five years old
(Blues riff starts playing in the background)
Jagger says off-mic.: Let's play cool-out music
(Riff for The Sun Is Shining kicks-up, Taylor starts a lead and then it stops)
Jagger say off-mic.: Keep going, keep going

(Comment: For God sake, what happened to the 5 year old girl? Ever wonder?)

The Sun Is Shining
(by Jimmy Reed)

A come-on baby help me to spend this gold
Come-on baby help me to spend this gold
Well you all dressed-up, I got no place to go

The sun is shining on both sides of the street
The sun is shining on both sides of the street
I got a smile on my face for every little girl I meet
I got a brand suit, a new pair of shoes
I'm gonna loose some of those God-dong blues
Come-on baby help me to spend my gold
We all dressed-up, we got no place to go

Jagger: Ayoo, yeah, and that's cool-out music. That's to cool... out with.
Richards: Stray Cat
Jagger: Hey, hey, hey, hey look, I mean there's scenes down there.
Audience: Do Paint It Black. Do Paint It Black.
Jagger: Do Stray Cat

Stray Cat Blues

I hear a click-clack of your, feet on the stairs
I know you ain't no scare-eyed honey
There'll be a feast if you just, come upstairs
It's no, hangin' mat-ter
It's no capital crime
I can see that your just, thirteen years old
No, I don't want your, I.D.
You look so lonesome, and you're so far from home
It's no, hangin' mat-ter
It's no capital crime
Oh yeah!....

Jagger: Oh baby... baby
All on the hillside
Hey, everybody up!
We're gonna do, we're gonna do aahhh

Michael Kevin Taylor, December 6, 1969

Love In Vain

Well I followed her, to the station
With a suitcase, in my hand
Yeah and I followed her to the station, with a suitcase in my hand
Whoooaaa and it's hard to tell and it's hard to tell
When all your loves in vain...

Jagger: Yeah, yeah, I think, I think, I think, I think
That some, there was one good idea came out of that number
Which was, that I really think that the only way that your gonna keep yourselves cool is to sit down
If you can make it, I think you'll find it's better (Jagger is adjusting the microphone here)
So when you're sitting comfortably
Now boys and girls, are you sitting comfortably?
When we get, I'm mean when we get to really like the end and we all wanna go absolutely crazy and like jump on each other then, then ,we'll stand up again you know what I mean?
But we can't seem to keep it together, standing up
Okay babies
But it ain't a rule
(Comment: Sorry, the time has come for some rule making here.)

Under My Thumb I

Hey, yeah, yeah
Under my thumb is a girl
Who once, had me down
Under my thumb... The song is stopped at this point)

Richards: Okay man, look we're splitting, you know, If those cats, if you people, we're splitting man if those cats don't stop beatin' everbody up in sight
I want 'em out of the way man
I don't like you...
Guy 1: That guy's gotta a gun out there and he's shooting at the stage
Guy 2: Yeah, one guy Ron, one guy
Guy 3: He's gotta gun all right
Guy 4: Hey poeple, hey people, come on let's be cool
People, please, there's no reason to hassle anybody, please don't commit it
(off mic.): Move back, relax, sit back
Guy 4: Please, please, relax and sit down
Cutler (off mic.): Don't say anything
Woman 1: Aren't you going to ask them about lost children
Guy 5 (off mic.): Why don't you just tell them man if they move back a little bit and sit down it'll go on
Cutler: If you move back and sit down we can continue and we will continue
We need a doctor under the left hand scaffold as soon as possible please
There's a Red Cross building up on the top of the hill and there's been lot's of lost children, children underneath the scaffold
If you have lost a child please go and collect him or her there please
Yeah, it's a Red Cross van
Woman 1: Awesome
Guy 6 (off mic.): If you continue
Jagger: Okay, ahh, I, it seems to me, to be stuck down to me
(Reluctantly, Jagger has to take charge of the situation)
Will you listen to me for just one minute
Please listen to me for just one second all right
First of all, everyone is going to get to the side of stage who's on it now
apart from the Stones who are playing
Please everyone, everyone please, can you please get to the side of stage who's not playing, all right
That's a start, the next things is I, I cannot see what's going
I just know that everytime we get to number something happens
I don't know what's going on, who's doing what, it's just a scuffle
All I can ask you San Francisco is like the whole thing
Like this could be the most beautiful evenning we've had for this winter you know
And we've really
You know, why, why, don't let's f_ck it up man
Come on let's get it together
Everyone! Come on now!
I know, I can't see you up on the hillsides
You're probably very cool
Down here, we're not so cool, we've got a lot of hassles goin' on
I, I, just, every cat
Yeah I know, I mean, you know, I, we even can't see you, but I know your well, your cool
We're just trying to keep it together
I can't do anymore than just ask you, to beg you, just to keep it together
You can do it, it's within your power everyone, everyone
Hells Angels, everybody
Let's just keep ourselves together
You know, if we, if we are all one then let's f_cking well show we're all one
Sam Cutler (off mic.): By that scaffold urgently man
And there's one thing (horrible)
What we need, Sam, we need an ambulance
We need doctor by that scaffold there
If there's a doctor can he get to there
Okay, here we go, I don't know what the f_ck we're doing
And everyone keep down, sit down
I mean keep cool let's just relax
Let's just get into a groove
Come on, we can get it together
Come on

Under My Thumb II

(Jagger does not say "sit down" during the opening bars of the song as in the "Gimme Shelter" movie)

Under my thumb there's girl who once had me down
Under my thumb, there's a woman, who once, pushed me around
It's down to me, oh yeah
The way she talks when she's spoken to
Down to me, the change has come
She's under my thumb
Say it's all right....

Jagger: Thank you
Keith (off mic.) Let's play Brown Sugar man
Jagger (off mic.): Brown Sugar?
(Comment: It doesn't seem like this song was planned for the set-list)
Jagger: Thank you, thank you
Our we all, we're getting it together
We're gonna do one for you
We just aahh, we just aahh
You've never heard it before
'cause we've just written it
We've just written it for you
We've written it for s...
I don't know how good this is gonna be baby, aahh well
This is the first time we played it
The very first time we've played it
And we're gonna do one for you now
Which we did for you
Which have ever, have never played before
And we're gonna play for you the first time
It's called Brown Sugar

Brown Sugar

Yeah, Gold Coast slave ship bound for, cotton fields
Sold in the market down in New Orleans
Scared old slaver knows he's doin' all right
You shoulda heard him just about midnight
Brown Sugar, how come you taste so good
Brown Sugar, just like a young girl should yeah....

Jagger: Yeah
Thank You
(Harmonica-guitar riffing)
Oh baby baby baby
Hush now don't you cry
Hush now don't you cry
Hush now don't you cry
We're gonna do you one which we hope you dig, for you
Which is called the aahh Midnight Rambler
'cause it really

Midnight Rambler

I talkin 'bout the midnight rambler
The one you never seen before
Well I'm a talkin' about the midnight gambler
Did you see me jump the garden wall?
A sighin' down the wind so sadly
Listen and you hear him moan
Well I'm a talkin' 'bout the midnight gambler
Everybody got to go....

Jagger: Oh yeah
Oh yeah
Whoo, whoo, whoo, whoo, whoo, whoo
Oh baby
If we can stand up, stand up
Stand up if you can keep it cool
One more drink to you all
Ahhoo baby
It's sooo sweet
It's really sweet
Would you like to live with, each other?
I mean you're really close to each other
Wow, yeah, I'm ready

Live With Me

I got nasty habits
I take tea at 3:00
And the meat I eat for dinner
Must be, hung up for a week
My best friend he shoots water rats
And feeds them to his geese
Don't you think there's a place for you
In between the sheets?
Come on now baby we can build a home for three
Ahww come on baby don't you want to live with me?....

Jagger: Yeah
Who did?
Not that one
Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey one cat can control that chick
Hey one cat can control one chick, you know what I mean
Hey fellas, hey fellas
One of you can control her man
Hey come on fellas like one of you can control one little girl
Come on now, like, like what, like
Just sit down honey
Fella's can you, can you clear and she'll like, let, let them deal with her, they can deal with her, come on
Fellas, come on fellas, they're all right

Gimme Shelter

Yeah see the storm is threatenin', my very life today
If I don't get some shelter
Yeah, I'm gonna fade away
War, children, it's just a shot away, it's just a shot away
War, children, it's just a shot away, it's just a shot away, yeah

Jagger: Yeah
Did you get it back?
Yeah, okay, are we okay?
We are, I know we are
Are you having a good time?
Oh yeah

Little Queenie

Lumps in my throat when I saw her coming down the aisle
I got the wigggles in my knees when she looked at me and sweetly smiled
There she is again standing over by the record machine
Well she looking like a model on the cover of a magazine
She's too cute to be minute over seventeen
Meanwhile, I was thinking
She's in the mood, no need and break it
I got the chance, I'll take it
If she can dance, we can make it
Come on queenie, let shake it
And go, go, go little queenie
I said go, go, go little queenie
Go, go, go little queenie....

Jagger: Why, I thank you very much
Thank you very much


I can't get no, satisfaction
I can't get no, satisfaction
And I've tried, and I've tried, and I've tried
And I've tried, tried, tried
I can't get me no, my, my
I can't get me no....

Jagger: Whooo, whooo, ooohh
We'd like to say
Well there's been a few hang-ups
You know, but I mean generally, I mean aahh
You've been beautiful
You've been beautiful
You have been so groovy
Oh, all the, all the loose women may stand and put their hands up
All the loose women put their hands up
Aahh, that's not enough
We haven't got many loose women
What you gonna do?
How are you, I mean, what ahh
Honky Tonk...

Honky Tonk Women

I met a, gin soaked bar-room queen in Memphis
She tried to take me upstairs, for a ride
They led to heave me right across her shoulder
I just can't seem to drink you off my mind
It's a honky tonk women
Give me, give me the honky tonk blues

(Comment: There is a power failure during this song at 2:15)
Cutler : Everyone got PA, PA
Jagger: Hello, I got it back, yeah, come back to you
We're gonna ki.., we're gonna ahh, we're gonna kiss you good-bye
And we leave you, to kiss each other good-bye
And, I can't, you've been
We're gonna see you, we're gonna see you, we're gonna see you, we're gonna see you again, all right
Kiss each other good-bye, sleep, good-night

Street Fighting Man

Everywhere I hear the sound of marching, charging, feet boy
'cause winter's here and the time is right for fighting in the street boy
Well what can a poor boy do, except to sing for a rock-roll band
'cause a sleepy London town, is just no place for, street fighting man

Jagger: Bye, bye, bye...

Well, maybe this wasn't ever intended to be a Woodstock West as some have said. It was really a rushed attempt to top off a highly successful come back tour with a free concert after much had been said in the press about high ticket prices ($7.50) for Rolling Stones shows in 1969. In some respects it is the personification of what has been represented in the music of the day. Revolution? Anarchy? Defiance against rules and establishment? These are the ingredients:

Hell's Angels are Policemen

Consciousness is a drug altered state of mind

Sinners are Saints

Anarchy is Organization

Compromise is Solution

What works for The Grateful Dead will work for The Rolling Stones

The massess are responsible for the behavior of a few

A free concert for 300,000 people can be re-organized in 3 days

$500 worth of beer will insure the security of 300,000 people

Hippies can overpower Hell's Angels

San Francisco/San Jose chapters of The Hell's Angels are the same as the British chapter (used at Hyde Park)

Young children belong at a free Rolling Stones concert

A stage made to sit at the tip of a hill at Sears Point Raceway will serve the same purpose on flat ground in Altamont


Four people die and four people are born
Two 2 die from being hit by a car, one is killed, and one from drowning in a resevoir)

Both Richards and Jagger ask the audience to take control of the situation with the Angels.

No one knows or is clear about who the leader of the Hell's Angels entourage is at Altamont.

Both the "new song" Brown Sugar and the once ever played The Sun Is Shining were unplanned additions/changes to the set-list.

There is genuine concern by the Stones and tour management about what is happening to the audience, just no idea how to stop it.

Contrary to rumor and even a "Rolling Stone" magazine article Meredith Hunter was NOT killed during Sympathy For The Devil. Either this has been said out of ignorance or for dramatic literary effect based on the song title (I've received email from fans who still question this).

This was an excellent musical performance.

Nearly forty years later the Stones play to upwards of a million people in a free concert on Praia de Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, February 18, 2006... Lessons learned.

Link: Altamont Audience Recording Sources
(1969 US Tour Page)

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