It was the winter of Rock and Roll’s discontent. The Rolling Stones were coming to the states for the first time since 66, enter the Jones-less Stones. My first chance to see them was at the L.A. Forum (taped the show, and used a super 8 camera for the first time), second show with B.B. King, Ike and Tina and Terry Reid (he got his equipment on stage), but two shows in one night took care of Terry’s set. Two arena shows, and we left as the sun rose.
Shortly after this event, Altamont was announced. My older brother Jonathan had decided we should go, heck it’s only near SF. So the evening before myself, his new girlfriend, and his friend David Morrison (imagine if Charlie Watts and Bill Wyman meshed their looks), took off, expecting to be there in the early morning, just after a fill up of gas, we hit a rock, and it breaks our gas pipe. Tulare, California, not known for much (Raisins?), we are stuck in a gas station till it opens, get a late, very late start to the rock show. As we arrive, it is obvious we are late. We walk through the sea of humanity, and come upon the stage. We have entered from behind the stage, so we are in the front. Standing next to a very big nude man who keeps screaming “I want to play drums with Santana“. By late afternoon he gets his head beat in with pool cues by the Hell’s Angels. Sitting on buses drinking beers, the gigs security, it would get worse. Sets by Santana, Burrito Bros. (Great!), Jefferson Airplane, with Marty Balin getting decked by the Angels. Never in my life have I ever felt so afraid. As showtime neared forthe Stones, the Angels put their motorcycles in the front of the stage. Stones come on, the crowd shoves, cycles tip, people run as the Angels come for the crowd, I am on the ground being trampled, my brother lifts me up, we make a run for it and go behind the stage.Next thing we know we are on the stage, my brother is asked by the Angels to “leave the stage man!, for some reason, they leave me alone, bad vibes are busy in other places. I watch the start and stop Stones set from Mick Taylor andKeith Richards amp line, staring out at this show with it’s out of control violence. Bad vibes will never be higher than this. As the set ends I look over at Charlie Watts, next to his floor tom, he picks up his velvet jacket, I tap the Stone on the shoulder, “Charlie, can I have your drumsticks” he nods and says “Yeah”, I have them to this day. We drive home pick up a hitchhiker, who picks up on my Brother’s girl, never to be seen again. Two weeks later Rolling Stone has an Altamont issue, there is a photo of a white female, blonde hair, dancing, with a black man with an afro, and staring straight at the camera with curly hair and wire rimmed glasses, is my hero, my brother, Rock and Roll was never so good and bad.