Free Concert at Altamont (+ a request re: Keith Richards)

June 07 2016

Some say history is written by the victors, but I'm not so sure about that. Most of the time it's pretty fuzzy who the victors are...

This I know: history is often written --sometimes gouged in stone-- by those seeking to keep the status quo intact.

Have you heard about the Free Concert at Altamont?

I'll tell you, since I'm producing 2 documentaries on Altamont.

But first I'll ask---knowing it's a long shot----do you know Keith Richards, guitarist of the Rolling Stones? if so, could you possibly connect us up?

Even 5- to 10-minute interview will work! It's for those Altamont documentaries I started telling you about...

Q: What's Altamont?
A: There's the conventional narrative, vs. the more interesting narrative.


"Four months after the peaceful Woodstock Festival, San Francisco psychedelic bands and the Rolling Stones gather--a carelessly planned event at a decrepit demolition derby racetrack, godforsaken part of California, bitter cold winter, Hells Angels 'Security' stab a black teenager to death, while the Rolling Stones play."

The more interesting history is a mosaic of stories--creating a far more complex, far different picture of Altamont.

Mainstream narratives assert that violence at Altamont marked the death of idealism--the end of countercultures. An oft-repeated tale of comeuppance--to those daring to believe in or live by rules of love, human connectedness, spontaneity, expressiveness, caring for each other, goodness, openness, compassion, personal freedom.

Thing is: these ideals didn't come to the fore exclusively during the 1960s. They always come to the fore, over time immemorial--and they're always a direct challenge to hierarchical, materialistic, individual-as-king, linear dictums of "reality” that line up as soldiers buttressing the status quo.

These ideals didn't die at Altamont....and were vibrantly alive the night before.


(1) "The Night Before Altamont" (radio)

(2) Altamont 360° (film + interactive transmedia components)


(1) Conventional narratives about Altamont suck. Aside from Gimme Shelter (1969 film--see it!), they're marked by blame, shame, cynicism, ideological hatred, recrimination, and sensationalism.

In other words, history by self-proclaimed "victors" seeking to ridicule and squash humanistic ideals as silly and "congenitally naive."

My documentaries--inspired by Kurosawa's Rashomon---radically reframe Altamont by presenting multiple simultaneous perspectives, underscoring that "alternative" narratives are as real and true--if not more so--than those making it "through" to claim One Real Truth.

(2) When people die, their stories die too--unless collected.

I've interviewed 2 dozen and met dozens more Altamont denizens----Director Albert Maysles, free-spirits who hitchhiked as teenagers to Altamont, current and former Hells Angels (both men of integrity, very kind to me), Grateful Dead and Rolling Stones management, Black Panthers, many more.

- Some died---never to see the finished product (heartbreaking)
- Those alive must be interviewed to tell their truths!

Keith Richards?

Just 12 hours before the concert, Altamont radiated positive cooperative energy--hundreds of Bay Area volunteers creating concert infrastructure, thousands of kids camping​, ​joyfully anticipating the next day's events.

Atmosphere so cool Keith Richards spent the night there, alone!

"I went the night before, and I stayed. It was really beautiful...everywhere I went was a gas. People were sitting around campfires...getting was really cool..." (Rolling Stone magazine, 1971)

This story has not been adequately told---and new mythos emerge claiming the night before was also dark and violent.

I need Keith's voice to round out the radio documentary.

Just a few words from Keith will incentivize public radio to air "The Night Before Altamont."

Once aired, "The Night Before Altamont" will stand alone--plus serve as "demo reel" for film, Altamont 360°

Help me get even 5 minutes of Keith "tape" to finish these projects---reframing which victors "​write" ​history​ ​​and ​tell our stories. Thanks!​!

Susan Doran
[email protected]
Las Vegas

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