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Rock N’ Roll Research Essay, Research Paper
First there was love and music. Then there was love, music, and a lot of drugs. Lastly there was love, music, a lot more drugs, and death?
The ugly turn was taken at the Altamont Speedway during a festival promoting free rock music and peace all around. The festival soon turned from carefree to tragedy with one lick of the guitar. The whole idea around the Altamont Speedway music festival was the idea of the ever so present Rolling Stones. The Stones being a rock band, who wanted to, in a way, mimic the basic idea of its predecessors, the Monterey Pop Festival and Woodstock. The idea that the people of the time weren?t about fighting and violence; they were all about loving oneself, loving one another, and most importantly, loving the music. Mick Jagger, the Rolling Stones lead singer, expresses his views on what they believe will be what people will conceive from this festival, he states, ?Its creating a sort of a microcosmic society?it sets an example to the rest of America, as to how one can believe in nice gatherings.? (Remember A Day: Altamont) The Stones saw the positive effect these gatherings had on the people and they also saw the amount that the publicity improved for the performers. So they assembled some of the most prolific bands of the time and chose to put themselves as the headliners. They booked acts such as Santana, Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Crosby Stills Nash and Young, and the Flying Burrito Brothers. What could go wrong? You have all the ingredients for a great music festival; you?ve got great music, loving people, loving peaceful time, and it?s free to whoever attends. Although that?s not all that was added. I forgot the main ingredient for this heaven turned hell, I forgot to add the security services of the Hells Angels.
The so-called mastermind of the festival was Mick Jagger. He decided to employ the Hells Angels as security since he had previously had good luck with them while doing a free concert in London. Also the Grateful Dead had acquired the help of the Hells Angels before and all went off without a hitch. There was something different about these angels; ? they were notorious for their violent nature and their excessive drug use.? (Remember A Day: Altamont) with this in mind, Rolling Stones road manager, Sam Culter, decided to do his part to maybe calm down the angels. So he bought them $500 in beer (which along with the pool cue, was their weapon of choice) and put the beer right in front of the stage, in hope that in case of a fight, the angels would be there to defend the Stones first. The angels threw the cans but drank most of it. Little did Culter know that instead of calming them down, he was just putting fuel on their fire. He not only gave them beer, he gave them the one thing they should have never been given, he gave them absolute power.
?Like the rest of the Stones? tour, the group waited as long as possible before taking the
stage. They wanted their entrance to be as great as possible. The lights around the medical
unit were even asked to be turned off so that as their set began the only light would be a
single spotlight on Jagger. Small fights kept on breaking out as the Stones played.
Meredith Hunter, an eighteen year old black man, was near the stage with a gun and a
knife. As the Hell?s Angels attacked him with their pool cues, ?Mick sang his song about
how groovy it is to be Satan. Never has it been sung in a more appropriate setting.? The
Angels beat Hunter to death. ?There could be no worse circumstances for making music,
and the Stones are playing their asses off.? (Remember A Day:Altamont)
Soon after this happened and Jagger realized the extent to what had happened; he called for an ambulance and pleaded not only with the fans to stop the fighting, but he also begged the Angels to stop their rampage. Soon after that the Stones knew that in order to maintain some peace
through all the violence and hectic happenings, they needed to play on or else more fighting was evident.
Unfortunately, three other deaths were reported during the festival. Two people were trampled to death while they lay in their sleeping bags and one person, whose identity is unknown, was found drowned. ?It is a shame that a concert like this would have to end under such disturbing circumstances. ? even the most incomplete medical reports show that this was a festival dominated by violence.? (Remember A Day: Altamont) So much for a free, loving, music festival to emphasize the mood of the country.
Earlier I spoke of the predecessors of the Altamont Festival. Those being the Monterey Pop and Woodstock. Both were the epitome of a great and peaceful music gathering. Both with three goals; stopping violence, to unite a world together, and promoting the freedom of the art of music. They were both very close to succeeding.
The Monterey Pop wasn?t the actual first free music festival. The Monterey Jazz Festival and the Monterey Folk Festival preceded it. The Monterey Pop was a beautiful culmination of the two and was an essential stepping stone to the popularity of music. It was also a vital spot to the popularity of a few artists whom were virtually unknown until their performance at the Monterey. They were artists like the Who, Otis Redding, Ravi Shankar, The Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, and The Jimi Hendrix Experience. The reason that the popularity of these
bands blew up isn?t only because the people loved their music; it?s also because when the people left the festival after hearing them, they had a great feeling about the atmosphere and the experience they just had.
With the Monterey Pop Festival being such a success, it left the door wide open for the free music market. So in stepped Woodstock.
?The last bedraggled fan sloshed out of Max Yasgur?s muddy pasture more than 25 years
ago. That?s when the debate began about Woodstock?s historical significance. True
believers still call Woodstock the capstone of an era devoted to human advancement.
Cynics say it was a fitting, ridiculous end to an era of naivete. Then there are those who say
it was just a hell of a party. ?(1969 Woodstock Festival & Concert).
In 1969, in a little town named Bethel, New York, over 450,000 people to scurried to a single pasture on the farm of Max Yasgur. The reason that Woodstock was such a great phenomenon is that over the four days it took place, there were very minute reports of fighting (usually just a shouting match), and two deaths. Although there were two deaths, the reason that there not deaths were never in the spotlight of criticism like the Altamont Speedway death, is because they were not related to any violence; the thing that the festivals were trying to eliminate. They were caused by the drug use. One man tried climbing to the top of the scaffolding near the stage and fell and one man over-dosed on drugs. Throughout this whole festival there were only three main problems that hindered it from being perfect; the lack of sanitary facilities, numerous reports of people jumping fences to gain access, and the catastrophic traffic jam that took place when it was over. All in all, Woodstock did a wonderful job of getting the points across they feel that needed to be addressed. Nobody really wants violence and nobody will be around violence if they are not
put into a violent atmosphere. The Monterey Pop Festival proved it. Woodstock proved it. If only Altamont could of followed in theirs footsteps, who knows where music would be today. One can only imagine.
Altamont. 23 Mar 2000. www.visi.com/~astanley/rad/altamont.html.
Monterey. 23 Mar 2000. www.visi.com/~astanley/rad/monterey.html.
Woodstock. 23Mar 2000. www.visi.com/~astanley/rad/woodstoc.html.
1969 Woodstock Festival & Concert – How Woodstock Happened. 23 Mar 2000.
Woodstock At 25. 23Mar 2000. http://www.publiccom.com/14850/9407/coverstory.html.
Introduction. 23 Mar 2000. www.visi.com/~astanley/rad/intro.html.
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