Robbers Welcome: the Altamont Bash

The party celebrating Rolling Stones road manager Sam Cutler didn't get the star treatment it advertised

Rolling Stones Altamont Sam Cutler
Robert Altman/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Sam Cutler tries to manage the crowd at The Altamont Speedway in Livermore, California on December 6, 1969.
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Billed as "Robber's Welcome," the invitation-only farewell party for Rolling Stones road manager Sam Cutler at the Old Fillmore Auditorium in mid-January was hyped as a superstar session with members of the Airplane, Creedence. the Grateful Dead and Santana planning to jam. And, it was whispered, "The Hell's Angels might show up too."

It was to have been a celebration, with Cutler, one of the key figures responsible for the Stones' free Altamont concert/disaster, as guest of honor.

Besides sets by Leon's Creation and Day Blindness, the 1000 or so who were there found the main action was Rick, who likes to be called Buddha, onstage rapping about motorcycles and how "If you ain't never been on one, man, you just don't know where it's at." And don't blame them Angels for what happened at Altamont — they ride bikes and all you bikers out there know what that means. Anybody that didn't, got a demonstration.

In the Aftermath of Altamont

A tape of a bike leaping to life roared from the speakers. And there's Buddha — arms reaching for imaginary handlebars, hands twisting the air as he gives it the gas — dry-humping an invisible motorcycle for 10 minutes.

Cutler was nowhere to be seen and if the Big Names ever showed to jam, it was long past midnight when Leon's Creation came on for second set.

There were few newsbreaks on the progress of Alameda County sheriff's officers' investigation of Meredith Hunter's killing at the hands of Hell's Angels. Indeed, the investigators would say very little.

Yes, they had travelled to Southern California, as reported in the Los Angeles Times, to question a number of people about the killing.

Yes, they had drawn some conclusions from their Los Angeles trip. What those conclusions were they could not say.

In London, Magnus Linklater of the Sunday Times reports (after talking with Keith Richards and various of the Stones management) that the discussions before the concert about arrangements and Hell's Angels did involve head Stone Mick Jagger, contrary to earlier reports.

The Stones are planning another big open-air concert (neither in the United States nor in Great Britain), but the other stars of that affair will be in the fields of ballet and "serious" music, this keeping the audience suitably low-key. Or so the Stones hope.

This is a story from the February 21, 1970 issue of Rolling Stone.

From The Archives Issue 52: February 21, 1970