My Life with the Rolling Stones, the Grateful Dead and other wonderful reprobates.
As the rotors created an ungodly racket above us, I sat there crammed into the helicopter with the Stones, their management and various hangers-on. The free concert at Altamont was intended to be a celebration of not just the music, but the thriving peace and love counter-culture of the sixties. Rather it had descended into a bloody chaotic mess of violence, death and despair. And we were on the run.
Sam Cutler was tour manager for the Rolling Stones at some of their major gigs in the late sixties, including the free California concert at which a man was murdered by a Hell's Angel in front of the stage while the Stones played on. After the show, Sam was left behind to make peace with the Hell's Angels, the various mobsters and organisations who had taken an overt interest in the event, and the people of America.
There has never been an official investigation into events at Altamont and those involved have never before spoken on record. Sam Cutler decided that it is time to put to rest the myths and legends that have grown up around this infamous event in rock history and for the first time reveal the truth.
Sam survived Altamont and went on to live the ultimate rock and roll dream. This is his own account of the high ol' times he had managing tours for San Francisco band the Grateful Dead - who went on to become the world's most successful live act. Along the way Sam draws intimate portraits of other stars of the psychedelic circus that was the music industry in the sixties and seventies, including Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, The Band, the Allman Brothers, Pink Floyd and Eric Clapton. This is an exhilarating, access-all-areas rock memoir from someone who has seen - and done - it all.
Sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll play strong supporting roles for headliners the Rolling Stones and the Grateful Dead in this straight-dope, tell-all account of Cutler's years managing road shows for "the yin and yang of bands." A dissatisfied schoolteacher in 1960s London, Cutler turned his involvement with the music scene into a career as "a sort of production honcho, doing all the dirty work on site" that others wouldn't. His work with the Stones began with their 1969 appearance at Hyde Park, and continued through an entire U.S. tour, ending with the Altamont disaster in California. After that, Cutler took up with the Grateful Dead, managing finances and tours (including Europe '72). Cutler's memoir is populated by a fascinating range of rock stars, gangsters, and international drug lords, but his insider position doesn't always penetrate the chaos; one important exception is his account of Altamont, the massive, free, outdoor Stones concert overtaken by violence (among other record-setting details, Cutler reports that "police had done nothing in the face of serious violent crime... other than bravely towing away hundreds of cars"). Of certain interest to anyone who recalls the music scene of the early 1970s, this fast-moving narrative of rock-n-roll excess should also absorb music fans of any age.
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A magnificent trip!
Sam writes in a comfortable journalistic style that is both personal and colorful. This book is full of great insider tellings of legendary moments in Rock 'n Roll history. It is humanizing in its portrayals whilst adding depth and light to these classic cultural tales. Thank you Sam Cutler for for a thoroughly enjoyable and ever jucy read!