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When rock 'n' roll lost its innocence

This headline went around the world in 1969, when at the free of charge concert of the Rolling Stones in Altamont, California a visitor was stabbed by a member of the 'Hells Angels'.

For common understanding, in the English-speaking world, popular music (pop) that emerged from the 1950s onward is commonly referred to as rock 'n' roll.

I would like to explore in this paper whether this genre of music, the band members and especially the fans were really so innocent. I have chosen the Rolling Stones for this purpose for several reasons. First, their music is based almost exclusively on American blues and rock 'n' roll. No other European band had and still has more contact with the music scene in the United States than the Rolling Stones. I am a die-hard fan of the Rolling Stones and can therefore also describe my personal encounters with them.


The beginnings were certainly still innocent in the sense of virginity.

Although records with rock'n'roll music had been released before, the recording of the song "Rock around the Clock" by Bill Haley & the comets on April 12, 1954 is considered the birth of rock'n'roll .

This song was the first international rock'n'roll hit. In the heyday of rock'n'roll in the 50s, a fashion wave of tube pants, striped socks, petticoats, pomaded ducktail hairstyle, greasepaint curls and ponytails followed. The explosive success of this music can be explained by the longing that had existed for some time for a youth music of its own, through which rebellion against the parents' generation could be expressed. In this way, rock 'n' roll music also became an outlet for social constraints.

Don McLean released the track 'American Pie' in 1971. In his cryptic lyrics he even sings about the fatal plane crash of Buddy Holly and 2 other musicians with the words: the day, the music died.


The war generation, which experienced the 2nd World War and rebuilt the bombed countries afterwards, was used to discipline and order. These virtues led to an economic miracle in the USA and in Europe. So what could be bad about that. However, the post-war generation, including the so-called Baby Boomers in the United States of America, saw it differently. Were the hippie movement in the U.S. and the '68 movement in our country a disease of prosperity? The fact is, however, that almost exclusively students took part in these movements, and almost only young people of wealthy parents had the privilege of being allowed or obliged to study.


Rolling Stones founders Jagger and Richards were also not sons of poor parents who wanted to escape from the dreary everyday life of suburbia.

In October 1961, eighteen-year-old Mick Jagger and seventeen-year-old Keith Richards met by chance at the train station in their hometown of Dartford, Kent. Jagger was on his way to the London School of Economics and was waiting on the platform for the train, Richards also wanted to go to Sidcup Art College in London, about 30 kilometers away. The two teenagers knew each other from years together at elementary school, but contact had broken off over time. Since Jagger carried records by the American blues musician Muddy Waters and the rock 'n' roll musician Chuck Berry under his arm and Richards was also enthusiastic about the music, which was relatively unknown in Great Britain at the time, a conversation developed.


To see live performances by hip blues formations, they visited London clubs on weekends, and in April 1962 were at the Ealing Jazz Club for a concert by Alexis Korner-led Blues Incorporated, the country's first electric blues combo. Since it was a completely open formation in terms of personnel, Jagger and Richards jammed with the musicians on stage before the performance. In the process, Brian Jones, who called himself Elmo Lewis at the time, attracted attention with his slide guitar playing and the bottleneck technique, which was little known in Europe at the time.

Unlike the three students from the suburbs, who still lived with their parents, the go-getting Jones was already on his own as the father of three illegitimate children and had caused a social scandal in his hometown of Cheltenham through his fatherhood.

Meanwhile, Blues Incorporated played twice a week at the Marquee Club on London's Oxford Street. Due to TV recordings at the BBC, they had to cancel an agreed gig, and Alexis Korner arranged for Brian Jones' band (with Jagger and Richards) to replace them. In the line-up Mick Jagger (vocals), Brian Jones (guitar), Keith Richards (guitar), Dick Taylor (bass), Ian Stewart (piano) and - presumably - Tony Chapman (drums) they performed for the first time on July 12, 1962 under the name The Rollin' Stones. As an opening act for blues singer Long John Baldry, they played five cover songs in front of an audience of about 100 people.

Not wanting to be tied down to a role as a bassist, Dick Taylor left the Rolling Stones in November 1962. He continued his studies, but already in 1963 he formed the band The Pretty Things. Before drummer Tony Chapman also left the band, he arranged for 26-year-old Bill Wyman to be the new bassist, who officially joined the Stones on December 7, 1962. With his self-modified Vox AC30 guitar amp, he raised the group's sound to a new level. After Chapman's departure, the band courted jazz drummer Charlie Watts, who had left Blues Incorporated shortly before, feeling he was not good enough to play with such excellent artists. Despite his musical reservations, the band managed to convince the reluctant Watts, who initially continued to work full-time as a graphic artist, to join the band.

On January 12, 1963, they performed for the first time with their new drummer at the Ealing Jazz Club.


The original Rolling Stones were born in 1963.

front: Brian Jones, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards. back: Charly Watts, Bill Wyman.

The band name was certainly borrowed from Muddy Waters, who sings about the Rolling Stone (hobo or drifter) in at least 3 tracks.


Between February and September 1963, impresario Giorgio Gomelsky gave the Rolling Stones a permanent engagement as a house band at the Crawdaddy Club in Richmond, which he ran. The fee was initially one pound sterling per member.

The band covered songs by Chuck Berry, Muddy Waters, Jimmy Reed, Bo Diddley and Howlin' Wolf and advanced with their wild stage performances to one of the most interesting live bands of the London music scene.

On April 14, 1963, the Beatles, who were already celebrating nationwide chart successes, attended a performance by the Stones at the Crawdaddy Club and a friendly relationship developed between the band members.

The Beatles.

front: George Harrison, Ringo Starr. back: John Lennon, Paul McCarntney.

During their engagement, the Stones developed their own "black" and aggressive sound, which clearly stood out from the beat music that dominated the British charts at the time. Rhythm and lead guitar, harmonica and vocals could not be neatly separated, the rhythm section around Charlie Watts and Bill Wyman formed the stable foundation of the band.


On April 28, 1963, Andrew Loog Oldham, who had briefly worked for Beatles manager Brian Epstein, attended a Rolling Stones performance. He was impressed and after the concert offered to become their manager. Jagger and Richards, for their part, were impressed by Oldham's performance and signed a contract. In it it was specified that Oldham should take care of the image of the band and he suggested to Ian Stewart, who looked a bit staid compared to the other band members, to leave the band. His appearance did not fit the image he had in mind for the Stones. Stewart remained with the band as tour manager, live and studio musician until his death in 1985.

Oldham succeeded in staging the Rolling Stones as an "evil" version of the Beatles: In photos they looked grim, wore longer hair and gave themselves an aura of danger and aloofness. This impression was reinforced by their loud, vulgar stage show, which was charged with sexual innuendo.

Now, according to the media, the Beatles were the good guys and the Rolling Stones were the bad guys. At the latest now it was over with the innocence of the Rolling Stones, from now on it was all about business.


Oldham got the Rolling Stones a record deal with Decca Records, which had rejected the Beatles shortly before, and on June 7, 1963, the band's first single was released with a cover version of Chuck Berry's Come On on the A-side and I Want to Be Loved by Willie Dixon on the B-side.

The song Come On reached #21 on the UK singles chart, and the Rolling Stones made their first television appearance as a result. In desperate need of a hit song of their own, the band turned to Paul McCartney, who wrote I Wanna Be Your Man for the Stones.

Due to their friendship, the Beatles (or rather John Lennon and Paul McCartney) gave the Stones this composition, which was released on November 1, 1963. The second single of the Rolling Stones reached number twelve on the charts.


Due to the onset of success, the Rolling Stones ended their engagement as a house band and embarked on their first tour of Great Britain (The Rolling Stones British Tour) between September 29 and November 3, 1963, with 60 nationwide performances.

Not Fade Away, a composition by Norman Petty and Buddy Holly, was the next single. It was released on February 21, 1964 in the United Kingdom and was the first release in the United States (March 9, 1964). With The Rolling Stones, the first LP was issued on April 16, 1964, and was released in the United States under the title England's Newest Hitmakers on May 30, 1964.

On April 20, 1964, The Rolling Stones made their first appearance in mainland Europe as part of the Rose d'Or Festival at the Casino in Montreux. Along with Petula Clark and other musicians, they were the guests of a special broadcast of the British television series Ready Steady Go recorded there.

From June 5 to 20, 1964, the Stones completed their first U.S. tour and also recorded songs for the first time at Chess Studios in Chicago. For the start of the tour, the original composition Tell Me was released as a single in the USA. Jagger and Richards used the pseudonyms Nanker Phelge as authors for it for the first time.


The first US TV appearance on the Mike Douglas Show.

At the latest now it became clear that probably the Beatles were the better musicians with the better voices in the studio, but the Rolling Stones delivered the better live shows.


With the single It's All Over Now, released on June 26, 1964, the Stones reached the top of the charts in Great Britain for the first time.

At the beginning of their career, the Rolling Stones concentrated their musical activities mainly on stage performances to increase their popularity. To do this, they mainly used the repertoire of American blues musicians such as Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Willie Dixon, Robert Johnson, John Lee Hooker and Chuck Berry.

For marketing reasons, Jagger and Richards were urged by Oldham to write more of their own songs. Initially, Jagger and Richards composed almost exclusively ballads such as As Tears Go By, which, sung by Marianne Faithfull, became a Top 10 hit in Britain in mid-1964.


The next single, the blues piece Little Red Rooster, was a cover version and originated from Willie Dixon. It is characterized by the playing of Brian Jones on slide guitar and Mick Jagger's harmonica.

This title is one of my absolute favorites.


Their first self-penned song to top the charts in England was the single The Last Time (written by Jagger and Richards), released on February 26, 1965, but based on the gospel This May Be the Last Time, first recorded by The Staple Singers in 1954 and later (1957) a big hit by the Blind Boys of Alabama. With this title, the Stones emerged with their distinctive rhythm, underlining their ability to merge R&B and pop in an attractive way.

This title is not only borrowed, but one hundred percent cribbed from the 1961 gospel group The Staple Singers.


This was followed by (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction. This was the Stones' worldwide breakthrough (number 1 in Great Britain and the USA). With Satisfaction they created the exemplary pop lyric par excellence, the unmistakable guitar riff is one of the most famous in pop history. In the same year, with Get Off of My Cloud

(October 22, 1965), another song reached the top of the British and U.S. charts.


On September 11, 1965, the Rolling Stones started their first Germany-Austria tour. At the end of this tour, 22,000 fans came to the Waldbühne in Berlin on September 15, 1965. After the peaceful concert, there was a fierce battle between the music fans and the police, during which the Waldbühne was heavily vandalized and numerous S-Bahn cars were demolished.

With this tour, the Rolling Stones became famous in Germany and Austria.


A short documentary about the first Germany & Austria tour of the Rolling Stones



The Rolling Stones' first concert in Austria on September 17, 1965 at the Vienna Stadthalle.

"Thick sunglasses in front of the unwashed faces. The shaggy hair down to the shirt collar, dented pants and the cigarette in the corner of the mouth," wrote the "Kronen Zeitung".

At that time, the Stones and their music were a threat to conservative society, and riots regularly broke out at the British band's gigs. If someone mocks overcorrect stewards today, one should bear in mind what was deployed to secure the Stadthalle back then: 600 police officers with steel helmets arrived, a water cannon and five arrest vehicles in the entourage. Hundreds of police students were "on standby. One of the reasons for this deployment was a bomb threat.

Nothing happened, even most of the chairs remained intact. "Oh, how this hurts the managers of the five pseudo-musicians," sneered the daily newspaper "Die Presse" the day after.

The actual frontman of the Stones at that time is Brian Jones, eccentric guitarist and bon vivant, not averse to drugs and generally a wild dog, who is said to have invented the hotel room destroyed by the rock star. In any case, at that time we lived in the Bristol, nothing was broken. And the setlist consisted of just eight songs, including the iconic Satisfaction.


Pictures from the final concert of the tour at the Waldbühne in Berlin.

Reading it this way, one has to conclude that at least the media had long since shed their innocence.


My uncle Edgar Riezler from Hirschegg in KleinWalsertal was a self-confessed Rolling Stones fan. He had shoulder-length hair at that time. In his room, the complete star cut of the Rolling Stones from BRAVO was stuck on the wall in life size. He even once bought a fabric made of red artificial silk, borrowed the sewing machine from his mother and sewed himself Mick Jagger's skin-tight pants with a flare that went over his shoes. This was tolerated by the parents, smiled at by the older siblings and admired by the younger siblings and me. Incidentally, it was rumored at the time that Mick Jagger always put a pair of socks down the front of his pants before going on stage to look more manly.

At the same time, Uncle Edgar probably worked 150 percent of the time to be able to afford a driver's license and a car. A visit to the Rolling Stones concerts in Munich or Vienna was out of the question. One sang along the refrain of the titles, more was not possible with 8 years of elementary school. They were probably the most honest fans of any pop group.


This Grateful Dead poster heralded the flower power era in San Francisco. The mixture of Vietnam War, protest movement, freedom, free love and a lot of drugs started here.

Many joined the movement because they simply didn't want to go to Vietnam.


Mick Jagger and Keith Richards were getting better and better as songwriters and composers.

The 1966 album Aftermath contained only their own compositions.

The singles of 1966 were 19th Nervous Breakdown (released February 4, 1966), Paint It Black (released May 7, 1966) and Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing in the Shadow? (released September 23, 1966).


On January 13, 1967, Let's Spend the Night Together was released with the flip side Ruby Tuesday. Released on January 20, 1967, Between the Buttons reached #3 in the UK and #2 in the US charts. The European version did not include the two tracks, but instead featured the gentle ballad Back Street Girl and Please Go Home. When the Stones made an appearance on the "Ed Sullivan Show" in 1967, they had to change the lyrics of the single to "Let's spend some time together" out of consideration for the moral stance of the US Americans.


More serious problems were to come later in the year. A party was held at Keith Richards' Redlands country home in Sussex on the weekend of February 11-12, 1967, attended by, among others, photographer Michael Cooper, art dealer Robert Fraser, antiques dealer Christopher Gibbs, George Harrison and Pattie Boyd, and Mick Jagger and Marianne Faithfull. After George Harrison and Pattie Boyd left the party, a raid took place. Jagger was found to have amphetamines banned in England, which a doctor had prescribed to his girlfriend Marianne Faithfull during a stay in Italy. Richards was charged with tolerating the use of narcotics in his home. Both faced multi-year prison sentences. Due to a newspaper article written by Times editor William Rees-Mogg ("Who breaks a butterfly on a wheel?"), opinion flipped and only fines were handed down. Mick Jagger spent a night in jail at the beginning of the investigation.


In 1967 the Rolling Stones did another European tour and came to Switzerland for the first time.

The Hallenstadion in Zurich was certainly not ideal for the performance.

The 'Swiss Beatles' The Sauterelles were the supporting act.

People were already standing from the first song. In Switzerland, too, there was a spirit of awakening among the youth.

Actually, it was only a few vandals who eventually smashed the folding chairs.


On August 20, 1967, the Stones released We Love You. The song opens with footsteps and the slamming of a cell door, as well as a piano intro by Nicky Hopkins, who would be a regular part of the band's lineup until 1981. John Lennon and Paul McCartney can be heard in the background chorus. Officially, it was announced that the song was a thank you from the Stones to their fans. However, with We Love You they probably rather mocked the relevant tabloid press, which feasted on the raids and arrests.


The term Summer of Love refers to the summer of 1967, when the hippie movement in the USA was at its peak. It is often mistakenly assumed that the Summer of Love refers to the summer of 1969, when the Woodstock Festival took place.

This "summer" began with the Human Be-In, a happening that took place on January 14 in Golden Gate Park and was dedicated to the prohibition of LSD. Among the participants were Timothy Leary, Allen Ginsberg and Jefferson Airplane.



Attracted by the philosophy and ideals of the hippie movement, thousands of young people from all over the U.S. then flocked to San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury neighborhood to participate - among other reasons, that's why 1967 is considered the "height of the hippie movement."

Many of the Victorian houses in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood became open housing communities.


The cultural highlight of the Summer of Love was the Monterey International Pop Festival, June 16-18, 1967.

Country Joe and the Fish.

Janis Joplin.

Scott McKenzie.

Jimi Hendrix.


Almost simultaneously, race riots in the U.S. reached a peak and the major city of Detroit burned.

I elaborated on this story in a separate blog.

How black music became white.


The end of the Summer of Love can be seen as the event Death of a Hippie on October 6, 1967, when a hippie was symbolically laid to rest. The organizers protested against the fact that people - caused by the media - only imitated being a hippie and no longer felt it.


Influenced by the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and following the spirit of the times, the Stones recorded a psychedelic-influenced album: Their Satanic Majesties Request (December 8, 1967).

A record cover that went down in history.

Most of the tracks on this LP can probably only be understood and enjoyed in a drugged stupor. However, there is one track that is one of my absolute favorites.

One can understand that probably the music of Roy Black or Cliff Richard would not have been suitable companions on a heroin and LSD trip.


When the U.S. entered the Vietnam War in 1965, universal conscription was reinstated. Many of the conscientious objectors joined the hippie movement.

Many fled to Europe and in fascist Franco Spain they were not extradited. Hippie strongholds were established in Torremolinos and Benidorm. Many traveled on to Morocco and India. The centers of consciousness expansion through drugs and gurus ranged from Goa to Kashmir. The Beatles also spent months there together with their wives. The result was the white double album, which is undisputedly one of the best albums in the world.


Jumpin' Jack Flash, released on May 24, 1968, became another hit for the Stones. Beggars Banquet was released at the end of 1968. The LP contains country blues, rhythm and blues and rock.


It was also rumbling in Germany.

The '68 movement refers to social movements of the New Left and countercultures that were active in the 1960s and became particularly prominent in some countries in 1968.

It began in the United States with the civil rights movement of African Americans and continued in protest against the Vietnam War. Similar protests flared up in many states around the world, including the West German student movement of the 1960s, May 1968 in France, demonstrations in Britain, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, and Mexico. The Prague Spring in Czechoslovakia and the March 1968 riots in Poland each had their own causes, but were also aimed at greater civil rights and democratic socialism.


1968 was an election year in the United States and the Republican Richard Nixon was sworn in as the 37th President of the United States of America. He was considered a hardliner and had already testified during the election campaign that he identified the hippies and blacks as the biggest problems in the country.

Nevertheless, it would not be long before Americans would raise their flag on the moon. In our country, at the same time, the television series 'I dream of Jeannie' impressively conveyed the America of the wealthy and modern households.


Due to the personal problems of Jagger, Richards and especially Brian Jones, who had not been in good physical shape for some time as a result of his heavy drug use, the Stones had not given a concert since 1967. Jones, who had a criminal record, left the band on June 8, 1969, at the urging of Jagger and Richards. He planned to form a new band, but this was not to happen due to his unexpected death a few weeks later.

For me personally, Brian Jones was the best musician of the Stones.

On July 3, 1969, Brian Jones drowned in his swimming pool under circumstances that remain unexplained to this day. The official cause of death, according to the investigations at the time, was "death by accident".Rumors of a violent death have arisen again and again since then; among other things, various publications cite alleged circumstantial evidence according to which the construction manager employed by Brian Jones, Frank Thorogood, is suspected of having killed Jones.

Thus, Brian Jones had opened Club 27. Loud rock 'n' roll greats who died at 27 from a cocktail of alcohol, drugs and medication.

A graffito in Tel Aviv adds painter Jean-Michel Basquiat (third from right) to the Big Six, chronologically ordered from left: Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain and Amy Winehouse.

So rock 'n' roll's innocence has long since been taken away.


The Free Concert in London's Hyde Park planned two days later to introduce new guitarist Mick Taylor - he came from John Mayall's Bluesbreakers - became a memorial event for Jones. In front of about 250,000 people, Jagger recited a poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley in his memory, released hundreds of butterflies into the afternoon sun and sang the Stones' new number one hit, Honky Tonk Women, live for the first time. The concert was organized by Blackhill Enterprises, stage manager was Sam Cutler, who announced the Stones as "the greatest rock & roll band in the world," which was maintained during the subsequent 1969 U.S. tour and is still attached to the band as a label today.


On July 4, the American civil rights activist Martin Luther King was assassinated. Once again, race riots broke out across the country.

Riots in Washington DC.


The Woodstock Music & Art Fair presents An Aquarian Exposition - 3 Days of Peace & Music, Woodstock for short, was an open-air music festival. It is considered the high point and at the same time the end point of the hippie movement in the USA, which had arrived in the mainstream.

The festival took place as scheduled from August 15 to 17, 1969, but did not end until the morning of August 18. The venue was a dairy farmer's pastureland in White Lake near the small town of Bethel in New York State, about 70 kilometers southwest of the eponymous and originally intended venue in Woodstock.

In front of an estimated 400,000 visitors, 32 bands and solo artists of folk, rock, psychedelic rock, blues and country music performed, including stars such as Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and The Who. The expected number of spectators was exceeded by more than double. Countless potential spectators also got stuck in traffic jams around the festival site.

During the event, conditions were at times catastrophic due to bad weather and organizational abuses. Despite these adverse circumstances, Woodstock has become known for its peaceful atmosphere. Numerous musicians, staff and visitors spent the festival days under the influence of drugs such as LSD, mescaline, hashish and marijuana.


The airlift: Many visitors set off spontaneously, but didn't make it to the festival because of the tremendous traffic jams. Because all the roads were hopelessly clogged, the organizers had to hire sinfully expensive helicopters to bring the musicians from their accommodations to the stage. They were already overwhelmed by the sheer size of the festival as they approached.

Again and again, the musicians' performances were interrupted by sometimes long-lasting, stormy showers. The area became visibly muddy, the people moved together and shouted "No rain, no rain". With varying success.

Joe Cocker, a trained plumber from Sheffield in England, was virtually unknown in the United States. He was the first to play on Saturday, the second day of the festival, at 2 p.m. and later recalled, "Two years before Woodstock, I had played in a bar to 300 people at most." It wasn't easy, he said, to keep such a crowd in line. But when I finally brought on 'With a little Help from my Friends,' we did it. We were just finishing when a huge black cloud came over and it poured for hours."

At the edge of the festival grounds was a lake in which many cooled off. The fact that a considerable number of the bathers were naked was considered a perfidious provocation in prudish America.

A guitarist named Carlos Santana, a native of Mexico, took the stage Saturday at noon with five members of his band, including bassist David Brown. They were working on their first LP; no one knew them. Santana later said, "I was full on mescaline and all I can remember was praying, Lord help me not to play wrong and miss my cues." With their Latin American rhythms and melodies, exotic for the pop music of the time, the band attracted a lot of attention. "Ordinary people are shocked to this day that something like this could take place. And without riots," Carlos Santana said about the chaotic festival.

John Fogerty and the Creedence Clearwater Revival played after the Grateful Dead around one in the morning on Sunday. Fogerty later: "I'm rocking and roaring, and after three songs I'm trying to make out something beyond the floodlights. All I see is bodies entwined, stoned out of their minds and asleep. Shouting: Hey, we're having a blast up here. I hope some of you are too. I just wanted to know if anyone else was awake. But they were toast, no matter what I did. It was like a Dante scene: sleeping, twisted bodies from hell in the mud."

The Who had been stars of the London beat and rock scene since their song "My Generation" (1965). They had just released the rock opera "Tommy" before the Woodstock festival. Who guitarist Pete Townsend, who had pushed political activist Abbie Hoffman off the stage, said, "All over these hippies who thought today they were going to change the world. I, the cynical British asshole, would have loved to spit on them to make them realize that nothing had changed, nothing was going to change."

Feeding the 400,000: Hippies from the Hog Farm, the Merry Pranksters and other communities made a point of feeding festival-goers. Wavy Gravy of the Hog Farm promised "breakfast in bed for 400,000," but by the second day, Saturday, food supplies were depleted. Residents from towns around the festival site made tens of thousands of sandwiches, which were flown in by helicopter.

Jerry Garcia, guitarist with the Grateful Dead, was a guru of California hippies. The concerts liked to be improvised, often chaotic, but the gig in Woodstock was not only chaotic, but simply bad. As guitarist Bob Weir later reported, the gig was life-threatening for the band. "Every time I touched my instrument, I got an electric shock. The stage was wet, and the electricity was flowing through me. All of a sudden there was a huge blue spark the size of a baseball, and I was thrown forward two or three feet."

Morning maniac music: Jefferson Airplane were the most popular hippie band playing at the festival. They were paid a fee of 7500 dollars. Because of bad weather and general disorganization, they could not go on stage until seven o'clock Sunday morning. The singer Grace Slick said: "All right friends, you have seen the heavy groups, now you will see morning maniac music. Then they played "Got a Revolution".

Not only the musicians, but also the vast majority of visitors to the festival at Woodstock had never seen so many people in one place in their lives. The fences were trampled down, the organizers practically overrun - and had to announce at noon on Saturday: "It's a free festival from now on."

Beatle bed: hardly any sleep, lots of drugs, rock festivals are not doily embroidery.

Janis Joplin, like most musicians, had to wait hours for her performance. The singer from Texas, meanwhile, drank whiskey briskly and was too drunk to give a really good concert. Joplin was already addicted to heroin and died a year and a quarter later in Los Angeles from an overdose of the opiate.

Jimi Hendrix, born in Seattle with African-American and indigenous roots, was the musical star of the Woodstock festival. The left-hander, who tuned his guitar lower, and his group "Gypsy Sun & Rainbows" received the highest fee, $18,000. They played last, nine hours late, a fabulous two-hour concert. Hendrix ended it with the deconstruction of the US anthem and a brilliant guitar solo.

This rather melancholy photo graced the cover of the triple vinyl album "Woodstock," which was released by the Atlantic label in May 1970, shortly after the film had started. The compilation of three days, with quite a few of the bands missing, sold over six million copies and, together with the film, established the Woodstock myth.


My favorite video from Woodstock. A totally drugged up Alvin Lee of Ten Years After plays himself into a real guitar frenzy.

Although guided by commercial interests of organizers, band managers and many musicians, Woodstock embodies the myth of a peace-loving, artistic and "different" America. In contrast, a divided America found itself in the Vietnam War, shocked by political assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, and Robert F. Kennedy, and under the impact of social conflicts thematized by the counterculture.

Max and Miriam Yasgur owned the farm of which only a single pile of garbage remained.


Hollywood had also long since recognized the spirit of the times.

Easy Rider is a 1969 U.S. feature film that, as a cult film and road movie, describes the bikers' attitude to life in the late 1960s. On May 8, 1969, Easy Rider was the United States' official entry to the Cannes Film Festival. It premiered in the United States on July 14, 1969, and was released in theaters in West Germany on December 19, 1969.

This film describes very well the divided society of the late 1960s in the USA. Also, the film provided a very good soundtrack.


In November 1969, Let It Bleed was released as the follow-up album to Beggars Banquet by the Rolling Stones. In the same month, after a two and a half year absence from the stage, a successful U.S. tour began.

On this album appeared the only politically motivated track ever recorded by the Rolling Stones. It is one of the best of all time.


The Rolling Stones' 1969 tour of the United States took place in November 1969. With Ike & Tina Turner, Terry Reid and B.B. King (replaced by Chuck Berry on some dates) as supporting acts. The tour was very successful and the Rolling Stones played to packed stadiums. Nevertheless they received bad press, because the ticket prices were meanwhile sensitively high. Up to 8 USD had been paid for these concerts.


Shortly before the end of the tour, Mick Jagger announced that there would be a free farewell concert on par with the Woodstock concert.

After San Jose, San Francisco's Golden Gate Park and Sonoma had canceled, two days before the concert, Altamont's auto racing track was ready to host the concert.

The site was more than inconvenient, as the audience was seated on a hill and the stage was at its lowest point. It was long too late to build enough infrastructure and the stage was just one meter high.

The Hells Angels were hired as security on the advice of the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane. They took the job for 500 USD worth of beer.

There were 300,000 visitors at this concert.

"It was the end of innocence," Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart says of the free-for-all festival at Altamont Raceway near San Francisco that ended the Rolling Stones' 1969 U.S. tour. "Everything that could go wrong did go wrong. It was hell on earth, really." "From the beginning, there were bad vibes," Carlos Santana said afterward. "Bad vibes. All the people were just shooting off and trying to get everyone else in a bad mood, too."

Santana played first, and things got brutal after their first song. Some of the Angels kicked a man in the face who had tried to push his way along in front of the stage. During the performance of Jefferson Airplane, singer Marty Balin instructed an Angel to leave, whereupon the bikers beat him unconscious. The Rolling Stones waited until nightfall to perform.

During the two-hour intermission, fires of trash were lit in the audience to combat the chilly temperatures, so it literally stank to high heaven when Jagger & Co finally took the stage and began with "Jumpin' Jack Flash." "Carol" followed, then "Sympathy For The Devil," which they had to cut short when a brawl broke out. The Hells Angels went after an 18-year-old black man named Meredith Hunter who was allegedly handling a gun.

While the Stones played "Under My Thumb," the Angels kicked and stabbed Hunter until he was dead.

Sonny Barger, president of the Oakland chapter of the Hells Angels, later claimed the bikers were merely protecting the Stones and only got physical when individual fans knocked over Harleys in front of the stage. A jury in San Francisco later acquitted Angel Alan Passaro, who was charged with murder.


Vorarlberger Nachrichten 9.12.1969


I have to disagree with the Grateful Dead's drummer. Rock 'n' roll was never innocent. It was written and performed by people who were probably only at their best when they were under the influence of drugs. The music is emotional, loud and also aggressive. It is par excellence the medium to inspire masses. There also public violence can succumb, there can be injured and even dead. The musicians were young and often got rich too fast. They were idolized by the masses. Demolishing the instruments on stage and hotel rooms was almost part of the good style. Alcohol and drugs were the order of the day. Then as now, the media played a big role. Probably before the Beatles and the Stones, others had already let their hair grow. The media then gave rise to symbolic figures.  


What has remained of the do-gooders? Most of them preferred a bourgeois life after their rebellious phase. It is quite clear that the Red Army Action, which brought terror to the country, also arose out of the '68 movement in Germany. Innocent ideals can go that far.


We in the Bregenzerwald also let our hair grow. But was it rebellion? In any case, we did not curse the system of our parental home, on which we were financially dependent. We worked for our freedoms. I went to Kashmir with my good friend Hubert Moosbrugger from Bizau in 1978. We listened to the music of the Stones and others and were hippies in our own way.

Our VW T1 Bulli, built in 1963 in Lahore, Pakistan.

The two Bregenzerwälder hippies in Tehran, Iran.


As always, the best comes at the end.

In spring 2014 I saw the Rolling Stones live for the 4th time. The 40,000 tickets for the Zurich Letzigrund were gone in 3 days.

It was the best Rolling Stones concert for me so far. Today's stage technology makes the stars visible. The sound was perfect and the playbill was back to the roots. I have never seen Mick Jagger with guitar and harmonica on stage before.


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Klaus Riezler.



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