Crime History, Dec. 6, 1969: Teen killed during ‘Woodstock West’ in symbolic end to peace, love and rock ‘n roll

Meredith Hunter was captured by documentary makers.

Meredith Hunter was captured by documentary makers.

On this day, Dec. 6, in 1969, a teenager was stabbed to death by the Hells Angels during a Rolling Stones concert at Altamont Speedway.

More than 300,000 people attended the free show near Oakland, Calif., billed as a peaceful “Woodstock West.” But the scene was decidedly ugly.

Mick Jagger was punched when he arrived by helicopter. Jefferson Airplane singer Marty Balin got knocked out. The Grateful Dead refused to play.

During the Rolling Stones’ final set, 18-year-old Meredith Hunter and others tried to jump onstage. A member of the Hells Angels, who were hired to protect the stage for $500 worth of beer, got into a scuffle with Hunter. Jagger stopped the song and told the crowd to “cool out.” In the huge melee, Hunter allegedly pulled out a handgun and was fatally stabbed by a biker.

Film crews captured the killing, and the violent scene was featured prominently in the documentary “Gimme Shelter.”

Altamont came to be viewed as the symbolic end to the 1960s peace and love era.

— Scott McCabe


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