Today in Music History: The Rolling Stones perform a free concert at the Altamont Speedway

The Rolling Stones in 1994
The Rolling Stones (L-R) Keith Richards, Ron Wood, Mick Jagger and Charlie Watts in New York to kick-off their 1994 "Voodoo Lounge " world tour. It was the first time the Stones toured without their bass player, Bill Wyman, who left the group a year earlier. (Timothy Clary/AFP/Getty Images)

History Highlight:

Today in 1969, The Rolling Stones performed a free concert at the Altamont Speedway in northern California with support from Jefferson Airplane, Santana, The Flying Burrito Brothers and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. The Grateful Dead were also scheduled to perform following CSNY, but declined to play shortly before their scheduled appearance due to the increasing violence at the venue. And in fact, that's what the event is best-known for -- its considerable violence, including the stabbing death of Meredith Hunter and three accidental deaths: two caused by a hit-and-run car accident, and one by LSD-induced drowning in an irrigation canal. Many concert goers were injured, numerous cars were stolen, and there was extensive property damage.

Also, Today In:

1949 - Blues artist Lead Belly died. He was best-known for his strong vocals, virtuosity on the twelve-string guitar, and the folk standards he introduced which dealt with topics ranging from liquor to prison life to racism to cowboys to politics. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988 and the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame in 2008.

1969 - Led Zeppelin made their debut on the US singles chart with "Whole Lotta Love", which went on to make No.4 on the chart and was the first of six Top 40 singles for the group in the US.

1973 - The Steve Miller Band received their first Gold album for The Joker which went on to sell one million copies in the U.S.

1975 - Paul Simon went to No. 1 on the U.S. album chart with Still Crazy After All These Years, his first US No.1 solo album.

1978 - Sex Pistol Sid Vicious smashed a glass in the face of Patti Smith's brother Todd Smith during a fight at New York City club Hurrah.

1980 - U2 performed their first concert in North America at The Ritz in New York City.

1986 - Ringo Starr became the first Beatle to get into advertising after signing a seven-figure deal to be the spokesperson for a wine cooler company.

1988 - Roy Orbison died of a heart attack aged 52.

1995 - Michael Jackson collapsed and was treated for dehydration while rehearsing for the HBO special Michael Jackson: One Night Only at The Beacon Theater in New York.

1995 - Four months after the death of guitarist Jerry Garcia, the Grateful Dead announced that they were splitting up. They would tour again from 1998-2002 as The Other Ones and in 2003 and 2009 as The Dead.

1997 - Metallica entered the Billboard 200 Album Chart at number one with their seventh studio album ReLoad which spent one week on top of the chart and went on to sell four million copies in the U.S. This was Metallica's third album to debut at number one in the U.S.

2009 - Bruce Springsteen was honored at the Kennedy Center Honors for his contributions to American culture. President Barack Obama said "I'm the President, but he's The Boss."

Birthdays:

Mike Smith, singer for The Dave Clark Five, was born today in 1943.

Randy Rhoads, guitarist for Ozzy Osbourne, was born today in 1956.

Peter Buck, guitarist for R.E.M., is 62.

Pixies drummer Dave Lovering is 57.

Highlights for Today in Music History are gathered from This Day in Music, Paul Shaffer's Day in Rock, Song Facts and Wikipedia.


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