The death of the ’60s – 40 years ago today

December 6th, 1969 – a date that lives in infamy.  Commemorating the Altamont Speedway Free Festival 40 years later, it must seem impossible for those who lived through the events of that day to believe that The Rolling Stones are still going strong.

Because the spirit of the ’60s is definitely not and many purveyors of pop culture point to Altamont as the event that changed everything. 

For those of you unfamiliar with the concert or the tragic events that unfolded throughout the evening, including the stabbing death perpetrated by the Hell’s Angels in charge of security, Wikipedia does its typically fine job recapping all of the details.

The Rolling Stones - and the Hell's Angels - at Altamont on December 6, 1969

As for the anniversary itself, Rolling Stone offers up a few great links, including the magazine’s original report immediately after the festival.

Entertainment Weekly’s Owen Gleiberman remembers the day by focusing on the documentary by David and Albert Maysles – Gimme Shelter – which captured everything that day. 

While the filmmakers could not foresee the story arc when they began following the Stones during their 1969 tour, the Maysles’ brilliantly presented the magnitude of it all in their well-regarded film.

Gleiberman makes the point that while it is easy and correct to note that Altamont is the ultimate analogy to the end of the ’60s, it also brought about the dawn of a new age in which the audience – us – “become a drama unto themselves”.

So much has changed in 40 years, of course, but the Stones keep going (new album and tour, anyone?) and Altamont remains a cultural milestone from which we still feel the effects today in so many ways.  For better or worse.

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~ by acm213 on December 6, 2009.

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