May 11, 2017
In this episode, a chat with music journalist Joel Selvin, author of “Altamont: The Rolling Stones, the Hells Angels and the Inside Story of Rock’s Darkest Day”.
Joel and I are gonna be chatting about the historic free concert thrown by the Rolling Stones at the Altamont Speedway in December 1969. Joel has called this rock ‘n roll’s darkest day, and I’m sure many others would agree.
I’m also sure some people are probably like, “Ryan, what the hell does this story have to do with the occult?” And to that I say this: as with anything occult, if you get caught up with the story on the surface, you’ve missed the message completely.
To be fair, though, this doesn’t have anything to do with occult study or philosophy, but this story does have an interesting place in the annals of not just rock music, but also American culture. The Altamont concert is not a forgotten moment, by any means, but I think it does merit some attention because of the time in which it took place and how the hippie movement was viewed afterward.
Joel is a San Francisco-based music critic and author best known for his weekly column in the San Francisco Chronicle, which ran from 1972 to 2009. In addition to his book on Altamont, Joel has penned several books examining the cross-section of music and culture, including “Summer of Love: The Inside Story of LSD, Rock & Roll, Free Love and High Time in the Wild West”, as well as “Peppermint Twist: The Mob, the Music and the Most Famous Dance Club of the 60s”. He’s also authored or co-authored biographies on some notable musicians, including Rock & Roll Hall of Famers Ricky Nelson and Sammy Hagar.
But our focus here is the story surrounding a free concert held at Altamont Speedway in Northern California in December 1969. The Rolling Stones headlined a bill any fan of rock music would loved to have seen, but the day was marred by biker beatdowns, bad drugs and the death of a young black man named Meredith Hunter.
Whether you’ve heard the story before or not, I think you’ll learn a little something from this. It’s a fine chat with one of the premier chroniclers of the San Francisco music scene. And if you’re into speculation and conspiracy theory, please do stay tuned for the outro. Enjoy.
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