Picture story: Why you don't want Hells Angels doing security at your gig

Published: 12 April 2016

Bikes parked at the infamous Altamont free concert on Dec 6, 1969. 300,000 people packed Altamont Speedway in California to watch the Rolling Stones headline. It was a last-minute venue change that led to the presence of Hells Angels – hired by the Stones and famously paid $500 in beer for their pains – acting as security for the stage.


t the concert's intended venue, the San Jose State practicefield, the stage sat atop a rise. At Altamont it sat in the centre of a huge bowl, where crowd pressure naturally led to the risk of incursion on the metre-high stage. A mixture of drunk, heavy-handed Angels armed with sawn-off pool cues and an LSD-addled crowd intent on getting close to Mick made for a stop-start show and pressure-cooker atmosphere.


By the end of the gig one fan, Meredith Hunter, had been stabbed five times and killed, another three had died in accidents and four babies had been born. It was a bugger to get out of too.


'Oh dear what a shame'

Watch Mick Jagger & Charlie Watts listen to a phone-in radio show rant by Hells Angels leader Sonny Barger soon after the Altamont concert.