Rolling Stones 1970 Gimme Shelter Altamont Concert with Hells Angels.
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Published on Oct 25, 2012
Gimme Shelter is a 1970 documentary film directed by Albert and David Maysles and Charlotte Zwerin chronicling the last weeks of The Rolling Stones 1969 US tour which culminated in the disastrous Altamont Free Concert. The film is named after "Gimme Shelter", the lead track from the group's 1969 album Let It Bleed. The film was screened at the 1971 Cannes Film Festival, but was not entered into the main competition.
The action then turns on the concert itself at the Altamont Speedway, the security for which was provided by the Hells Angels (armed with pool cues). As the day progresses, with drug-taking and drinking by the Angels and members of the audience, the mood turns ugly. Fights break out during performances by The Flying Burrito Brothers and Jefferson Airplane; Grace Slick pleads with the crowd to settle down. When Mick Jagger arrives to the grounds via helicopter, he is punched in the face by an unruly fan while making his way to his trailer.
At one point Jefferson Airplane lead male singer Marty Balin is knocked out by a Hells Angel; Paul Kantner attempts to confront "the people who hit my lead singer" in response ("Hey, man, I'd like to mention that the Hells Angels just smashed Marty Balin in the face and knocked him out for a bit. I'd like to thank you for that!"). He and Slick tell one of the Angels on stage that violence isn't what the event is about, to which the clearly intoxicated biker replies, "You're talking to my people. Let me tell you what's happenin': You are what happenin'!" Slick herself warns the Angels after they continue hitting people: "You don't hassle with anybody in particular. You gotta keep your bodies off each other unless you intend love. People get weird, and you need people like the Angels to keep people in line. But the Angels also-- You know, you don't bust people in the head for nothing. So both sides are fucking up temporarily; let's not keep fucking up!!!" Jerry Garcia and Phil Lesh arrive, but The Grateful Dead opt not to play after learning of the incident with Balin from Santana drummer Michael Shrieve. (Santana and Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young also performed at the concert but are not shown in the movie).
By the time The Stones hit the stage, it was evening, and the crowd was especially restless. The Stones opened with "Jumpin' Jack Flash", and are also shown performing "Sympathy for the Devil", as the tension continues to build. It is during the next song, "Under My Thumb", that a member of the audience, 18 year old Meredith Hunter, attempted, with other crowd members, to force his way onto the stage, and as a result is struck by the Hells Angels members guarding the band. He is then seen to draw a revolver before being subdued by Hells Angel Alan Passaro, and is killed by at least six stab wounds.
Baird Bryant, one of the many cameramen in the film, caught Meredith Hunter's stabbing on film. The film sequence clearly shows the silhouette of a handgun in the black teenager's hand against the dress of his white girlfriend, Patty Bredahoff, as Passaro enters from the right, grabs and raises the gun hand, turns Hunter around and stabs him at least twice in the back before pushing Hunter off camera.
Amongst the camera operators for Altamont was a young George Lucas, who later went on to become a successful film director. At the concert, Lucas's camera jammed after shooting about 100 feet (30 m) of film. None of his footage was incorporated into the final cut
La película muestra algunos shows hechos en el Madison Square Garden, que más tarde fueron publicados en el álbum Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out!, así como las sesiones de fotografía para la portada, con Charlie Watts y una mula. También se muestra a la banda trabajando en la grabación de la canción "Wild Horses" en Muscle Shoals, Alabama. Otros shows documentados en la película son los de Ike y Tina Turner, the Flying Burrito Brothers y Jefferson Airplane.
Gran parte de la película cubre el concierto de Altamont, mostrando la preparación de este. En esta parte del film se muestra el consumo de alcohol y drogas por parte de los Hell Angels, una banda de motoristas encargados de la seguridad de aquel show, además de las dificultades y peleas que perjudicaron el espectáculo. El inquieto público y la poca seguridad arruinó varios shows (incluso Marty Balin, vocalista de Jefferson Airplane fue noqueado por un Hell Angel). Por ello, Grateful Dead decidió a última hora no participar del evento.
En Altamont, mientras los Rolling Stones interpretaban la canción Under My Thumb, se muestra el asesinato de Meredith Hunter, un joven negro de 18 años que fue apuñalado por un miembro de los Hell Angels.
Eric Saarinen (nieto de Eliel Saarinen) fue el operador de cámara que (sin saberlo) capturó el asesinato de Meredith Hunter.
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