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Unseen Footage From The Infamous And Deadly Altamont Festival Comes To Light

The appearance of The Rolling Stones and others in 1969

Library of Congress has recently released previously unreleased footage from the infamous Altamont Speedway Free Festival in 1969.

The free concert took place at Altamont Raceway Park in northern California on December 6, 1969 and featured performances by The Rolling Stones, Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, and more.

The event was attended by approximately 300,000 people and unfortunately, it was marred with severe violence and a deadly outcome. An 18-year-old, Meredith Hunter, was stabbed by the Hells Angels, who were serving as security at the festival.

While footage from the day has previously been shown in the Maysles Brothers’ documentary Gimme Shelter, the Library of Congress has now shared a home movie that has never been seen before. The video, which comes without audio, shows Rolling Stones, Gram Parsons, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, and more performing and hanging out in the crowd.

The footage was acquired by archivist Rick Prelinger in 1996, whose 200,000-reel collection was given to the Library in 2022. The Library’s head of the Moving Image Section, Mike Mashon, wrote in a blog that a technician had recently come across “two reels of silent 8mm reversal positive – a common home movie format” which was accompanied by a handwritten note that read “Stones in the Park”.

“When I saw that, I immediately thought that it could be a home movie of July 5, 1969, Rolling Stones Hyde Park concert held in London a couple of days after the death of guitarist Brian Jones,” Mashon wrote.

“Regardless, I sent the reels up for 2K digitization by our film preservation laboratory. A couple of days later, I heard from some very excited colleagues that the scan wasn’t the Hyde Park show. It was from the Altamont Speedway concert in California, and it definitely wasn’t footage from the 1970 documentary.”

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