Book Review: Rock & Roll Books

Altamont

Rock & Roll Books

Towing the party line – "In a single day, the innocence of a generation was shattered" – the music prism magnifying four fatalities at a free concert by the Rolling Stones in northern California on Dec. 6, 1969, ranks naturally among the era's sociopolitical slaughter, though perhaps not that cataclysmic. Eleven kids trampled to death at a Who show a decade later nearly to the day, and 100 headbangers cremated in a 2003 Rhode Island club fire during a performance by Great White better frame its violent tragedy than the genocide of baby boomers' idealism. Bay Area music lifer Joel Selvin airlifts readers almost a half-century back, the Hells Angels smashing your face with a pool cue until you can't breathe. So died Meredith Hunter, a product of African-American poverty and civil negligence, bleeding out during the Stones set after being stabbed repeatedly by the motorcycle gang running security. If Selvin's writerly panache gets the better of him ("these swashbuckling rockers had thoroughly made their case"), more problematic is his forgoing attributions despite hundreds of interviews over decades, which undercuts Altamont's yeoman reportage with a slick true crime polish. George Lucas and late Austin scribe John Morthland make cameos, and previously unearthed details pile up definitive until this last word on the subject self-combusts.


Altamont

by Joel Selvin
Dey St., 368 pp., $27.99
READ MORE
More Rolling Stones
Too Late to Stop Now
Rolling Stones
Rolling Stones in Mono (Record Review)

Tim Stegall, Dec. 16, 2016

Live Shots
The Rolling Stones

Raoul Hernandez, June 12, 2015

More Music Reviews
Pretty Paper: A Christmas Tale
Pretty Paper: A Christmas Tale

Tim Stegall, Dec. 2, 2016

Book Review: Texas Book Festival Music Reviews
Without Getting Killed or Caught: The Life and Music of Guy Clark
The dean of Lone Star songwriting documented at the 11th hour

Doug Freeman, Nov. 4, 2016

More by Raoul Hernandez
Exit U2
Exit U2
In revisiting The Joshua Tree, the Dubliners return home

May 25, 2017

Texas Platters
Chris Jamison
Mindless Heart (Record Review)

May 26, 2017

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Rolling Stones, Gift Guide 2016

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
AC Daily, Events and Promotions, Luvdoc Answers

Breaking news, recommended events, and more

Official Chronicle events, promotions, and giveaways

Updates for SXSW 2017

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)