Richards remembers Altamont murder
The Rolling Stones kept playing while Meredith Hunter was murdered in Altamont in 1969 because they wanted to provide a distraction, says Keith Richards.
The 18-year-old drew a gun on members of the Hells Angels after they’d prevented him from climbing onto the stage in their role as Stones security. He was stabbed to death by Alan Passaro moments later.
Richards tells Absolute Radio: “There was the terrible murder going on in front of us, which we all could see. As events turned out, security wasn’t what it should be.”
He recalls the Stones had already stopped playing once that night, in an attempt to calm the unruly crowd, and decided to take the opposite position when the Hunter incident began.
“I don’t know if it was scary,” he says of the earlier part of the show. “It was just like, ‘Wow, you have go to do something about this before it turns into a full-scale riot.’ We handled it the best way we could – I just stopped playing, and it happened to work.”
When the stabbing took place, he explains, “It was a matter of, ‘Quick, do something, and distract people from the Hells Angels.’ We didn’t know the cat was dead, or anything, but we saw what was going on.”
The Stones appeared in London’s Hyde Park yesterday for the first time in 44 years. Their 1969 show took place just two days after the death of former member Brian Jones.
His girlfriend Anna Wohlins has recalled how Jones planned to attend the show with her in order to demonstrate he held no hard feelings against Mick Jagger and co, who’d dismissed him three weeks earlier.
She tells The Mirror: “Instead of being backstage with Brian I was in a hotel room nearby. I was broken – in total shock.
“Fans were gathering with candles and I wanted to say goodbye to Brian, but I was in no fit state.
“I didn’t realise then, but I was a nuisance; a problem to the Stones’ management. They knew I knew what really happened on the night Brian died.”
Jones’ death has been investigated on several occasions, most recently in 2010, with many believing he was murdered, even though police say there’s no evidence to support the allegation.
Wohlins says: “Brian is still portrayed as a bitter, worn-out and depressed man who was fired because of his drug habit, and who died because he was drunk or high.
“But my Brian was a wonderful, charismatic man who was happier than ever. He had given up drugs and was looking forward to pursuing the musical career he wanted.
“He wasn’t bitter about Mick Taylor replacing him – he was quite relieved . He had wanted to leave the band for some time before they asked him to go.
“There were no hard feelings when he left though, and if people had seen us at the concert they would have known that – but it wasn’t to be.”
Tags: Rolling Stones