Interview: Albert Maysles (Part 1) - JazzWax

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November 16, 2010


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Keith Hedger


I really like your blog most of the time, but why do you keep talking about Rock bands and personalities on a blog called 'Jazzwax'??



The Stones "bad boy image" was well established before Altamont; it was their stock in trade. In the film, Jagger is seen pleading with the crowd to stop fighting in an effeminate voice; the band looks frightened.
Psychedelic drugs don't normally produce aggressive behavior - more often shoe-gazing or goofy dancing. Alcohol, and other substances likely in circulation, do promote aggressive behavior; especially in certain personality types such as bikers and rock concert or sporting event crowds.

Ed Leimbacher

I was at Altamont as Press, backstage and also out front (got there by crawling under the stage), in the crush of ugly crowd fueled by speed rather than psychedelics. I watched Marty Balin leap off stage trying to stop one fight, had an Angel get knocked into my lap during another, started to help him up then froze in a panic, fearful of touching him, getting clubbed too.

I gave up, crawled back under the stage, saw Jagger stick his head out of trailer and gaze in amazement at naked fat man nearby, dripping blood from pool-cue head blows. (Mick finally shrugged and closed the door.) From corner of stage I watched the Stones' set with fights continuing out front, but did not see the encounter that ended in death.

A terrible downer-drug experience, I promise you, unlike the ecstatic day and night I spent at Monterey Pop when all things looked to be possible and peaceable. I wrote an account of Altamont for Boston rock mag Fusion, published it using a pseudonym; I believed too much in the long reach of the Hell's Angels...

I'd have called the film Let It Bleed, but you can't always get what you want.

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  • Marc Myers writes regularly for The Wall Street Journal and is author of "Anatomy of a Song" (Grove) and "Why Jazz Happened." Founded in 2007, JazzWax is a two-time winner of the Jazz Journalists Association's best blog award.

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