Skip to main content

Watch previously unseen footage of The Rolling Stones at 1969’s Altamont festival

Stones at Altamont
(Image credit: Robert Altman/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

The Library Of Congress in Washington DC has discovered previously unseen 8mm footage of the Altamont festival, infamous in rock n’ roll history as the event at which audience member Meredith Hunter was beaten to death by a Hells Angel during a performance by The Rolling Stones.

The 26-minute silent home-movie style footage documents sets by the Stones, Carlos Santana, Jefferson Airplane, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and more on December 6, 1969. It is not known who shot the film, as the reel was left with a film development company, and never collected. Mike Mashon of the Library of Congress told the Washington Post: “If an owner emerges, certainly we’d be interested in hearing that. Somebody with proof. But as far as we know this film was abandoned.”

Pro-shot footage of the free concert, directed by Albert and David Maysles and Charlotte Zwerin, formed the basis of the 1970 documentary Gimme Shelter. Around 300,000 music fans were estimated to have attended the event.

Speaking about the newly uncovered footage, Mike Mashon told the Washington Post: “I don’t think there’s really anything in the film that adds to our understanding of the tragic events of Altamont. But it’s definitely a new perspective …[and] a wonderful artifact to have of a time and place and an event.”

Paul Brannigan
Paul Brannigan

A music writer since 1993, formerly Editor of Kerrang! and Planet Rock magazine (RIP), Paul Brannigan is a Contributing Editor to Louder. Having previously written books on Lemmy, Dave Grohl (the Sunday Times best-seller This Is A Call) and Metallica (Birth School Metallica Death, co-authored with Ian Winwood), his Eddie Van Halen biography (Eruption in the UK, Unchained in the US) emerged in 2021. He has written for Rolling Stone, Mojo and Q, hung out with Fugazi at Dischord House, flown on Ozzy Osbourne's private jet, played Angus Young's Gibson SG, and interviewed everyone from Aerosmith and Beastie Boys to Young Gods and ZZ Top. Brannigan lives in North London and supports The Arsenal.