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$11 Million Lawsuit Filed Over Rolling Stones' Free Altamont Concert

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It's a bullshit charge which the film does not bear out. And where Jaymes got the figure of $2 million is a mystery, because the attorney for the Hunter family says he hasn't filed suit yet.

Additionally, he said, there is a $500,000 suit brought by a farmer in the area claiming the concert emotionally disturbed his cows. Residents of the Altamont area had brought another $300,000 worth of claims against the concert, but Jaymes says they settled out of court for $7000 cash. He made another cash outlay of $50,000 to repair fences and damages to the speedway.

Jaymes also claimed at the press conference that he has a tape recording of an oral contract between Sears Point and Filmways people and himself and Schneider. He didn't play it, however.

At the San Francisco press conference, the theatrics were even thicker. After Choulos has announced the lawsuit, he fielded a few questions himself, answering each one with an appropriate cliche.

"This suit of ours will clear the air," he said. "There's been lots said and written about the concert, and this suit will develop what happened at Altamont. If there's responsibility, we'll find out where it rests. Filmways acted fraudulently, and it cost the plaintiffs a great deal of money. Sears Point was so well organized and planned out the festival would have been great. What happened at Altamont was a direct result of Filmways' actions, and litigation is a necessary action in this case."

Then he got Jaymes on the phone in New York to talk to the San Francisco press. Jaymes basically reiterated the same cliches, and said that had the festival been held at Sears Point, there would have been no trouble.

"Does that mean the Hell's Angels wouldn't have been there if it had been at Sears Point?" a reporter asked.

"I sincerely doubt that they wouldn't have been there," Jaymes replied. "But at Sears Point we had it worked out so we could have controlled their assembly into the area. We don't know what they were doing there; we didn't ask them to come. Someone just asked them to come and they took the stage."

Which is also bullshit because it was determined and confirmed long ago that the Angels were there as security at the request of Sam Cutler, the Stones' road manager.

After Jaymes got off the phone. Choulos and his staff started trying to reach Belli by phone in Johannesburg. As Let It Bleed played in the background, the press sat around waiting. Finally, the call got through.

Belli then said over the phone that Filmways "was trying to hold up the Rolling Stones with the deal they demanded. We ran into problems as soon as we had to break one contract and move." That said, the real reason for the press conference and phone call became clear as Belli started charming the local reporters.

"Say, I need some of that green ointment for the crabs right away," he told Choulos.

"It's not green, Mel, it's kinda violet and there'll be some for you in the mail special delivery tonight," Choulos promised. "All the reporters here send you their love, by the way."

"Well, tell them not to send me too much, because I've got more than I can handle right here already," Belli answered.

"You don't know what's in this room right now," Choulos responded, gazing around at the lady reporters present.

"You don't know what's lying here right now!" Belli shot back.

It was so fucking pathetic.

Contacted by telephone at his New York office after the press conference, Klein said, "I know the Stones are not a part of this. They have nothing to do with the lawsuit."

Klein said that during the Stones' tour Young American was "hired to get transportation," and that he had never met Jaymes. He dismissed all claims that Schneider was taking over management of the Stones. Schneider, he said, is his nephew.

Was all of this just a publicity stunt for Young American Enterprises and Melvin Belli?

"I think you're absolutely right," replied Klein.

Perhaps the reason Jaymes and his gang are very anxious to come out of Altamont with a clean record is because they plan to do a five-day rock festival in July in the New York area. Although he (again) couldn't supply any details, he said in a phone conversation with Rolling Stone that it would be different from any previous festivals. Everything would be kept completely under control, he said, by emptying the town (unnamed) of its residents and sealing it off with ticket-taking checkpoints which would be set up around the area.

The lawsuit, by the way, is for $500,000 general damages, $500,000 special damages, and $10 million in exemplary damages.

This is a story from the March 7, 1970 issue of Rolling Stone.

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

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