Altamont

When people think about the 1969 Altamont Concert, it’s usually about Meredith Hunter even if those people don’t remember his name. You see, that’s the concert where The Rolling Stones hired the Hell’s Angels as security. The crowd and Angels antagonised each other according to the story and the concert ended in a riot and the death of one of the crowd at the hands of one of the Angels. It’s often thought of when people look for an example of the lawlessness of this Motorcycle Club, and the story has expanded over time so that the Angels were hired for $500 worth of beer in one version or $1,000 of weed in another. I’m not here to comment on that as urban legends have it in their nature to grow. What I am here to do is impart a little extra information about that event.

Towards the end of the concert the crowd pressed the stage and the Angels, in their role as security, fought them back away from the group they were protecting. In the ensuing melee eighteen year old Meredith Hunter was killed and his death has been used since as an example of the violence of the Hell’s Angels. What isn’t mentioned often enough is that an autopsy of Meredith showed that he was high on amphetamine at the time of his death. What is almost never mentioned at all is that he was caught on camera approaching the stage brandishing a handgun, which caused him to be stabbed by one of the acting security guards. And what is never mentioned is that the Angel went to court for the killing and it was found to be a justifiable homicide as he had every reason to believe his life was in danger.

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