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

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Rolling Stones
Books, Box Sets & Reviews
Rolling Stones
Let It Bleed: 50th Anniversary Limited Deluxe Edition (Record Review)

Tim Stegall, Dec. 6, 2019

Heart-Shaped Box Sets
The Beatles / The Rolling Stones
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Deluxe Edition), Their Satanic Majesties Request (50th Anniversary Special Edition) (Record Review)

Raoul Hernandez, Dec. 8, 2017

More Music Reviews
<i>Me & Mr. Cigar</i>
Me & Mr. Cigar
Butthole Surfers singer Gibby Haynes debuts a deeply weird and wonderful young adult novel.

Alyssa Quiles, Feb. 21, 2020

Life Is a Butt Dial: Tales From a Life Among the Tragically Hip
Life Is a Butt Dial: Tales From a Life Among the Tragically Hip

Doug Freeman, Dec. 6, 2019

More by Raoul Hernandez
Daniel Fears, Sydney Wright, AB6IX, and More Crucial Concerts
Daniel Fears, Sydney Wright, AB6IX, and More Crucial Concerts
Get out and get live

July 12, 2024

Caleb de Casper, Money Chicha, and More Crucial Concerts for the Week
Caleb de Casper, Money Chicha, and More Crucial Concerts for the Week
Classical, hip-hop, jazz, blues, and much more

July 5, 2024

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Rolling Stones, Gift Guide 2016

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle