Anniversary of The End Of The Rolling Stones Historic 1969 Tour
It's a common misconception that the final date of The Rolling Stones' legendary 1969 North American tour was the tragic show at the Altamont Speedway in northern California, made famous in the film Gimme Shelter. Actually, that concert (which took place on December 6) was not officially part of the tour. The tour itself ended at a three-day music festival in the unlikely location of West Palm Beach, Florida. Invading the den of blue-haired retirees was an ocean of 40,000 long-haired kids looking to soak in the sounds of some of the biggest names of the day, including The Byrds, Sly and the Family Stone, Steppenwolf and King Crimson – with the Stones capping the festivities as the final-night closer.
As seemed to be par for the course at music festivals in the late '60s and early '70s, the weather for the First Annual West Palm Beach International Music and Arts Festival was rather abysmal, with temperatures dipping into the 40s (practically sub-arctic for Florida) and heavy rains drenching the Palm Beach International Speedway. By the end of the event, there was barely a portable toilet left standing, as most had been broken down for kindling to keep the masses warm.
The authorities also did their best to rain on everyone's parade, as officials tried (unsuccessfully) to block the organizers from getting a proper license. The police also made their presence felt, as they sent undercover officers, dressed as hippies, into the crowd to arrest fans for drug offenses. By 11 p.m. on day two of the festival, more than 50 arrests had been made. There were even rumors that Sheriff William Heidtman had planted alligators in the nearby canals and red ants on the festival field. more on this story
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