The Rolling Stones are undeniably one of music’s great bands but there is one event that cast a dark shadow on their success when they were at their peak.
Mick Jagger and co were rising on the crest of a wave in the summer of 1969; regularly at the top of the charts and playing a historic free concert in Hyde Park.
But unfortunately another free concert, this time in Altamont in northern California, was memorable for a more tragic reason- the controversial murder of 18 year old Meredith Hunter by a Hell’s Angel.
With 300,000 cramming into the speedway ground, many of them high on drugs, the atmosphere was always going to be fraught but things escalated as the Stones took to the stage and four others lost their lives during the concert.
In an age when you can’t get into many concert venues or festivals without having your ticket scanned and being searched, such disorder seems almost unfathomable.
It’s a event that many have struggled to come to terms with, including the band themselves, but it is now being thrown into the spotlight of the Edinburgh Fringe in a one man show by former Reston man John Stenhouse.
John, once a regular in shows with The Maltings Productions, Spittal Variety and Eyemouth Variety, now lives in southern England but has journeyed back up north past his old stomping ground for a month long run at C Nova in Edinburgh’s Victoria Street with one man show ‘Altamont’.
The show has already been running for a fortnight and although admitting that it’s been “a lot of hard work,” John told ‘WOW’ that he’s thoroughly enjoying the experience.
“With 193 shows for people to choose from you’re always going to be fighting a bit of a war to get the numbers in but we’re doing alright.
“The story of what happened at Alamont was something I wasn’t that familiar with until I saw The Rolling Stones film ‘Gimme Shelter’.
“A lot of things happened that day that a lot of people don’t want to talk about and to a younger audience who are used to having barriers and a 20 ft between themselves and a band when they go to a gig it’s crazy to think that the Stones played that day on a wooden stage that was barely a metre high in front of 300,000 people.”
Starring in a solo show, John gets to take on all manner of characters from a naïve festival goer to the flamboyant frontman himself- Mick Jagger.
“There was a danger of becoming a bit Freddie Starr and making it too much of a parody of Mick so instead I tried to keep him contained in a realistic fashion but of course there is the famous strut; he’s a fantastic guy to play.
“One lady who’s been to see the show said she wants to come again just to see my Mick Jagger- you can’t do better than that!”
Once the Fringe is over John, who is a member of Peppermint Muse theatre group, hopes to take ‘Altamont’ on the road with The Maltings one of the venues he’d love to play.
“Some guys from Berwick told me they’re coming up to see the show in Edinburgh but it would be great to take it to The Maltings; it’s a great venue and one close to my heart.”
To get tickets for ‘Altamont’ visit https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/altamont.