“They were pretty normal actually, for a rock’n’roll band,” says Mick Taylor this week In the Studio who, at the age of 21, replaced Rolling Stones founding guitarist Brian Jones in July 1969 in front an estimated quarter million fans in London’s Hyde Park. “Even though they were incredibly popular and had lots of hit records, they had been so incredibly mismanaged that they were practically broke. They didn’t have any money.”
Rolling Stones bass player Bill Wyman describes the three-year period prior to recording Let It Bleed . “There were all of the drug problems that year of ’67, first Mick (Jagger) and Keith (Richards), and then Brian I think twice that year… We were having problems with money, with ( American manager attorney) Allen Klein. Anita Pallenberg had switched from Brian to Keith as a girlfriend, which messed Brian up. It was a very confusing period of time.”
( right) Rolling Stones free concert at London Hyde Park July 1969 )
The Let It Bleed album was the last indication of the self-conscious rivalry which the Stones had with the Beatles ( the Fab Four had titled their swan song release Let It Be just six weeks earlier). The subsequent Rolling Stones 1969 U.S. tour, their first in almost three years, was quite successful and uneventful until an unscheduled free concert was hurriedly tacked onto the tour for the San Francisco area at a speedway called Altamont Raceway. “I suppose it was everything that a free concert shouldn’t be,” says Mick Taylor, who gives a sobering account of the day where four died, including a fan murdered right in front of the stage during the Stones’ headline performance.
Regardless of who, if anyone, was directly to blame for the day’s notorious violence, the Rolling Stones nevertheless left a timeless masterpiece in the album, ranked at #32 on Rolling Stone magazine’s Top 500 Albums of All Time because of classic songs including“You Can’t Always Get What You Want”,”Monkey Man”,”Gimme Shelter”,”Live With Me”, and the title song “Let It Bleed”. –Redbeard