By 1969 there had been a significant change in the attitudes of the so-called "Counter-Culture." Two events happened in that year changed the face of the 60`s in the eyes of the world. One was the killing of a black man, Meredith Hunter, by a group of Hells Angels, at a huge outdoor concert of the Rolling Stones. The other incident, which was far more hideous, was the slaughter of seven people by a group of so-called children of the counter- culture.
The concert by the Stones, was held at a disused speedway stadium at Altamont, in California. Originally, it was supposed to have been a free concert in San Francisco Park but was over-ruled by local government. To save the show, a stadium was found at Altamont, and preparations began. Two other groups were on the bill as support; the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane. But in what turned out to be a monumental error of judgement, the Stones management hired local Hells Angels as security. They reasoned that it would be okay, as just before, they used British bikers as security in the free show in Hyde Park. They did not envisage the complete difference in the way American bikers acted to the British bikers.
Trouble broke out whilst the Airplane were on stage. Every time the crowd surged towards the stage, the Angels beat them back with pool cues and other weapons. Eventually, the Stones hit the stage, and trouble kept breaking out between the crowd and the Angels, with Mick Jagger constantly pleading with the crowd to try and keep it in order. During one incident, a black man named Meredith Hunter pulled a gun, and on seeing this, the Angels moved in and attacked him with weapons and one stabbed him to death. The Stones were performing "Under My Thumb" at this point. Later, the repercussions were felt, mainly by the Stones, and to some, it signalled the end of the so-called "Peace Decade." In a documentary about the concert, a local radio station had a phone-in, and some bikers called in, blaming the Stones for everything, and tried to say that they were upset at people touching their bikes. It has been claimed that the Stones` management paid out a significant bribe to prevent a contract being taken out on Jagger. Jagger was also allegedly blamed by the Angels for not publicly supporting them. It should be noted that they are virtual white supremacists, with a taboo being black members. Strange though, that in 1986, Ralph "Sonny" Barger, presented a plaque to an all black outlaw club, the East Bay Dragons, commemorating their twenty five years as an active club.
Part two to follow.