Let It Bleed: The Rolling Stones, Altamont, and the End of the Sixties | by Ethan Russell | Springboard | 240 pages | $35
Whatever it was, it's pretty clear that Altamont — the free 1969 Bay Area Rolling Stones concert — was not "Woodstock West." Instead, it was a poorly planned, hastily assembled shitstorm, in which psychotic, over-medicated Hells Angels serving as unofficial security guards clashed with just about everyone, from opening act Jefferson Airplane (an Angel named Animal knocked out lead singer Marty Balin — twice) to an African-American teen named Meredith Hunter. When Hunter, who was armed with a gun, was set upon and stabbed to death by the Angels, the flower-power '60s screeched to a halt. Ethan Russell was there as official photographer of the Stones 1969 tour, and his book, replete with 230 photos on its 240 pages, is at its strongest when recalling Altamont as rock and roll's Cain and Abel moment. As for the rest of the Stones' triumphant 1969 tour, Let It Bleed offers some juicy details (such as Mick Jagger avoiding Jimi Hendrix backstage at Madison Square Garden because Hendrix had tried to steal his girlfriend, Marianne Faithful) and some glorious camera work (check out how gorgeous Keith Richards was before he became a cartoon seahag).
But it also leaves the curious reader wanting. There were only 17 dates on the band's sked, and more than half of the venues are not covered here at all (including the November 29 Boston Garden show). Still, it's a fine time capsule, as both a yearbook of the Stones when they were at the apex of their power and a keepsake of rock's most notorious nadir.
— Lance Gould
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