Stones Want to Give Proceeds From Altamont Movie to Charity

The band, along with Jefferson Airplane, have announced their desire to see the film's profits given to the community

September 3, 1970
Rolling Stones Mick Jagger Keith Richards Charlie Watts Bill Wyman Ron Wood
The Rolling Stones in Hamburg, Germany on September 13th, 1970.
Gijsbert Hanekroot/Redferns

New York — The Rolling Stones' Altamont movie should be out in September or October, and the musicians will give it all away. Their profits will go to an as-yet-unspecified charity, or will be put back into the hip community through any number of good works.

In fact, according to David Maysles, who's making the film with his brother Al, that's one of the things holding up the film. The Stones, the Maysles Brothers, and Jefferson Airplane are demanding that whichever film company distributes the film also kick back at least some of its profit.

"If we can't get a favorable deal, we'll distribute it ourselves," David promised. "We all want that; we'd like not to feed the system if possible. We've all learned something from Woodstock, not that we didn't really know it before, but we don't want to exploit, we don't want to charge those kinds of prices, we want people to see what we think is a strong, strong film.

"Mick feels it's very important that the film should be distributed with great discretion and taste. We've talked with several majors, and the problem has been a strong confrontation of what we want on advertising and promotion, so it doesn't get sensationalized, and ticket prices, so people can afford to see it," he continued.

At one point, it looked as though Universal had the deal cinched up. According to David, they're still among the front-runners, but "nothing is definite until the money is up."

He added: "The problem is in trying to deal with the old ways. The film companies have had it their way for so long, they really have trouble seeing it any other way, just because when you're in something for so long, it's hard to see the other side. When you explain it to them, they begin to understand, because in a way they've been putting money back into communities all along."

According to Jefferson Airplane's Paul Kantner, the Airplane has told the Maysles and Stones they wouldn't allow themselves to be in the movie unless the proceeds did go to charity. The film has a five-minute sequence with the Airplane at Altamont which the Maysles told the Airplane was a "focal point" for their conception of that black day.

Shortly thereafter, the Airplane received a telegram from Jagger which stated that the Stones wanted the Airplane sequence to remain in the film, and that the Stones didn't want to make any money off the movie anyhow. While the Airplane was in England this summer, Mick dropped by a rehearsal, they discussed the idea of film profits, and Paul and Grace Slick paid Mick a visit at his house.

"He's a nice, warm, honest cat," Paul reported, "And he said it was no hassle about the bread because they didn't particularly want any money from the movie but they did definitely want it shown. The money is superfluous to them; they aren't hassled by that at all.

"At first, we didn't want to be in the film at all; what changed our minds was seeing the film itself. It's the best film that's ever been made of a rock and roll group, just because the songs are so good, they're played so well, and they're filmed and recorded so well. Any way the Maysles put that film together, they can't fuck it up," Kantner raved.

So after seeing the film while in New York on tour, the Airplane decided they definitely wanted to be included, with the only source of contention being what happens with all the money it will undoubtedly make. When the Stones agreed that that would be no problem, it was time to get down to some serious talking about prospects.

"At first we weren't trusting them because we weren't sure of Allen Klein. We wanted to talk to them, get it straight ourselves, and Klein was one of the things in the way. When the Stones said, 'We'd like to find something to do with the money,' we were uncertain. With Klein we didn't know what they meant by a charitable organization — maybe it meant the Allen Klein Retirement Fund.

"But Klein didn't enter the film situation at all, so we were satisfied. Mick has integrity; no problem with that. We haven't decided exactly where we'll give the money yet, we've just agreed we won't keep it and left it at that, trusted it would work out pleasantly, and everyone would do what they said they'd do. We're working now to get the movie company to do the same, and nobody's asking them to do anything ridiculous; even a token gesture would be OK. They don't have to give away all their money. Like, they could build playgrounds or swimming pools," Kantner suggested.

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