The Rolling Stones Concert Murder of Meredith Hunter

Tragic struck at the Altamont Raceway on December 6, 1969 when Meredith Hunter, African-American teenager and music enthusiast, was murdered by a group of Hell’s Angels while attending a free concert from the Rolling Stones. Alan Passaro was charged with stabbing Hunter to death, but was acquitted after claiming self-defense. Nearly 300,000 people were attending the concert when Hunter was murdered.

The Altamont Freeway is an abandoned raceway at the southeast end of Livermore Valley, next to interstate 580, an eight-lane highway, and about 50 miles to Oakland, California. The Rolling Stones played their free concert at this raceway after their previous venue contract fell through. This last-minute change would be one of the many reasons for the rowdy crowd, leaving concert-goers with little personal space.

His sister Dixie Ward warned Meredith the concert was a dangerous idea. Civil Rights unrest still blanketed the nation during 1969 and Hunter might be targeted for a hate crime. Hunter heeded his sister’s warning and brought a pistol with him, and although unloaded, would be the catalyst of his death.

Hunter brought along Patti Bredehoft, his White girlfriend, and as the nighttime approached together they inched closer to the stage to see the performance of Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger on stage. The Rolling Stones contracted the Hell’s Angels to pull security for the concert, parking their motorcycles in front of the small stage to a barricade. Meredith Hunter was first confronted with one of the Angels when he climbed on the band’s speaker system so he could get a better view of the band.

Meredith Hunter is pulled off the speaker and thrown to the ground. As he runs away from the band, he is confronted by at least four Hell’s Angels set on killing the teen. One Angel, Alan Passaro, produces a knife from his jacket and stabs Hunter in his back rapidly. Hunter pulls out his unloaded pistol to scare back the group of bikers, but this only enrages the gang. The bikers push Hunter to the ground, repeatedly stomping on his face with their boots until he is dead.

Meredith’s girlfriend, Patti Bredehoft, attempted to stop the murder of her boyfriend but an Angel told her that Hunter tried to kill them and, “He deserves whatever he gets.” A few bystanders, including a man Paul Cox, desperately tried to administer aid on Hunter, and when attempting to transport his body to paramedics was blocked by the Hell’s Angels. Patti watched her boyfriend carried away deceased. The Hell’s Angels was acquitted of all charges.

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  • I know victim blaming is not a thing, but the hells Angels are not historically known for their customer service skills. The victim did not properly recognize the threat level the ” motorcycle club” possess. Also carrying a unloaded weapon is beyond laughable…. If you pull it you better be prepared to use it. Not time to be bluffing. Amazed the police were able to gather enough evidence to charge. A excellent example of ” no innocent victims” . Both parties were in the wrong. ( “victim”&”defendant”)…

  • Though I was not born until 1970, this concert was still very much discussed throughout my youth. Jon, frankly, you did an absolutely wonderful job of recreating this event and discussing the truth of what happened. Thank you so much. Also, I remember quite clearly when it happened, the Who concert in 1979, almost exactly 10 years to the day of this Stones concert. In fact, I remembering watching WKRP in Cincinnati, an excellent radio TV show from the 70s, and they dedicated the show to the deceased of the Who concert, as they were concert goers were crushed in a mob to see the concert and the band mates of the Who were not told of their deaths until after the concert. It still haunts Roger Daltry and Pete Townsend.

    Thank you again. Dee

    • that’s crazy. I never got into the Who to be honest. I split off more towards the Black Sabbath-esque rock n roll. Thanks for your support Dee. Also, just emailed you, check your spam if you don’t see it.

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