Just a Shot Away: Peace, Love, and Tragedy with the Rolling Stones at Altamont

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St. Martin's Press, Jul 10, 2018 - Music - 304 pages

“The most blisteringly impassioned music book of the season.” —New York Times Book Review

A thrilling account of the Altamont Festival—and the dark side of the ‘60s.

If Woodstock tied the ideals of the '60s together, Altamont unraveled them.

In Just a Shot Away, writer and critic Saul Austerlitz tells the story of “Woodstock West,” where the Rolling Stones hoped to end their 1969 American tour triumphantly with the help of the Grateful Dead, the Jefferson Airplane, and 300,000 fans. Instead the concert featured a harrowing series of disasters, starting with the concert’s haphazard planning. The bad acid kicked in early. The Hells Angels, hired to handle security, began to prey on the concertgoers. And not long after the Rolling Stones went on, an 18-year-old African-American named Meredith Hunter was stabbed by the Angels in front of the stage.

The show, and the Woodstock high, were over.

Austerlitz shows how Hunter’s death came to symbolize the end of an era while the trial of his accused murderer epitomized the racial tensions that still underlie America. He also finds a silver lining in the concert in how Rolling Stone’s coverage of it helped create a new form of music journalism, while the making of the movie about Altamont, Gimme Shelter, birthed new forms of documentary.

Using scores of new interviews with Paul Kantner, Jann Wenner, journalist John Burks, filmmaker Joan Churchill, and many members of the Rolling Stones' inner circle, as well as Meredith Hunter's family, Austerlitz shows that you can’t understand the ‘60s or rock and roll if you don’t come to grips with Altamont.


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Just a Shot Away: Peace, Love, and Tragedy with the Rolling Stones at Altamont

User Review  - Book Verdict

Journalist and critic Austerlitz (Money for Nothing) takes a different approach to the infamous, disastrous, 1969 Altamont Music Festival, where Meredith Hunter, a young African American man, was ... Read full review

Just a Shot Away: Peace, Love, and Tragedy with the Rolling Stones at Altamont

User Review  - Publishers Weekly

Austerlitz (Money for Nothing) offers a blistering exploration of the deadly confluence of racism, stoned na´vetÚ, biker belligerence, and rockstar obliviousness that resulted in the murder of 18-year ... Read full review

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About the author (2018)

SAUL AUSTERLITZ has had work published in the LA Times, NY Times, Boston Globe, Slate, the Village Voice, The New Republic, the SF Chronicle, Spin, Rolling Stone, and Paste. He is the author of several previous books, including Money for Nothing: A History of the Music Video from the Beatles to the White Stripes. He lives in Brooklyn.

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