Monday, December 6, 2010

Rant #398: The End of the Sixties

Today is the 41st anniversary of an event that some say was the end of the 1960s as we know it.

On that day, the Rolling Stones put on a free concert at the Altamont Speedway in Alameda County, Calif., and this wild and wooly decade ended right there.

Evidently, the Stones were concerned about security at the concert, and hired Hell's Angels to promote crowd control.

Well, the Stones were right. Things got pretty hairy there.

The aftermath was that the Angels tried to control the crowd with force, which did not work. They ended up killing four concert-goers, including one teenager.

Some say it was the end of the 1960s, the raucous decade where the ideas of peace and love were often upended by violence, because just a few months after the peace and love that occurred at Woodstock, blood was spilled 3,000 miles on the other side of the country.

To this day, few know who to blame for the violence.

Were the Stones so ignorant that they thought the presence of a group like the Hell's Angels would be able to quell violence?

Were the Hell's Angels given just too large a job to fill, and they resorted to the primal instincts of violence, which led to murder?

Were the spectators, as a group, so drugged up and rowdy that death was an unfortunate by-product of this madness?

Who knows, but it made the Rolling Stones even more sinister to many than they had been before, and it's an incident, through all of their successes, that they've had to carry around with them for the past 40-plus years.

Some say they deserve such an albatross; others say it is unfair.

But you have four people who were murdered at this concert, one a kid in his teens.

It shouldn't have happened.

Have we learned anything from this?

Maybe. But you might remember that a decade later, a Who concert led to a stampeded and there was death there too.

You always hear about incidents at concerts, whether it be rock or rap.

Some say it simply has to do with large crowds. Wherever you have a large crowd of people--many of whom are tanked up, if you know what I mean--there is a chance that the worst in them will come out.

Whatever the case, going to a concert shouldn't be an exercise in survival.

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