Altamont by Joel Selvin
The Rolling Stones, the Hells Angels, and the Inside Story of Rock's Darkest Day

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The detailing of the actual concert reads like old news, and the sourcing could be clearer, but this is a compelling analysis of an event that hadn’t seemed like it needed anything more written about it.
-Kirkus

Synopsis

In this breathtaking cultural history filled with exclusive, never-before-revealed details, celebrated rock journalist Joel Selvin tells the definitive story of the Rolling Stones’ infamous Altamont concert in San Francisco, the disastrous historic event that marked the end of the idealistic 1960s.

In the annals of rock history, the Altamont Speedway Free Festival on December 6, 1969, has long been seen as the distorted twin of Woodstock—the day that shattered the Sixties’ promise of peace and love when a concertgoer was killed by a member of the Hells Angels, the notorious biker club acting as security. While most people know of the events from the film Gimme Shelter, the whole story has remained buried in varied accounts, rumor, and myth—until now.

Altamont explores rock’s darkest day, a fiasco that began well before the climactic death of Meredith Hunter and continued beyond that infamous December night. Joel Selvin probes every aspect of the show—from the Stones’ hastily planned tour preceding the concert to the bad acid that swept through the audience to other deaths that also occurred that evening—to capture the full scope of the tragedy and its aftermath. He also provides an in-depth look at the Grateful Dead’s role in the events leading to Altamont, examining the band’s behind-the-scenes presence in both arranging the show and hiring the Hells Angels as security.

The product of twenty years of exhaustive research and dozens of interviews with many key players, including medical staff, Hells Angels members, the stage crew, and the musicians who were there, and featuring sixteen pages of color photos, Altamont is the ultimate account of the final event in rock’s formative and most turbulent decade.

 

About Joel Selvin

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JOHN JOHNSON, JR. is an award winning journalist and has worked for The Los Angeles Times for twenty-two years. JOEL SELVIN, co-author of the #1 bestseller Red: My Uncensored Life in Rock with Sammy Hagar, has covered pop music for the San Francisco Chronicle since 1970 and wrote the classic Summer of Love. Both reside in California.
 
Published August 16, 2016 by Dey Street Books. 373 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Humor & Entertainment, Arts & Photography. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Altamont
All: 2 | Positive: 1 | Negative: 1

Kirkus

Excellent
on May 18 2016

The detailing of the actual concert reads like old news, and the sourcing could be clearer, but this is a compelling analysis of an event that hadn’t seemed like it needed anything more written about it.

Read Full Review of Altamont: The Rolling Stones,... | See more reviews from Kirkus

Blog Critics

Below average
Reviewed by Joseph Arellano on Nov 13 2016

A few rock historians might find Selvin’s account useful but I doubt that most rock music fans will want to spend their time ingesting over 350 pages of rather depressing facts. And, as in many accounts of the period, there’s far too much made of drug use and abuse; something one quickly finds boring rather than interesting.

Read Full Review of Altamont: The Rolling Stones,... | See more reviews from Blog Critics

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87%

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