Gimme Shelter (1970)

R  |   |  Documentary, Music  |  6 December 1970 (USA)
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A harrowing documentary of the Stones' 1969 tour, with much of the focus on the tragic concert at Altamont.

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Credited cast:
Himself (as Keith Richard)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Marty Balin ...
Himself (as Jefferson Airplane)
Sonny Barger ...
Dick Carter ...
Jack Casady ...
Himself (as Jefferson Airplane)
Mike Clarke ...
Himself (as The Flying Burrito Brothers)
Sam Cutler ...
Spencer Dryden ...
Himself (as Jefferson Airplane)
Chris Hillman ...
Himself (as The Flying Burrito Brothers)


In December of 1969, four months after Woodstock, the Rolling Stones and Jefferson Airplane gave a free concert in Northern California, east of Oakland at Altamont Speedway. About 300,000 people came, and the organizers put Hell's Angels in charge of security around the stage. Armed with pool cues and knifes, Angels spent the concert beating up spectators, killing at least one. The film intercuts performances, violence, Grace Slick and Mick Jagger's attempts to cool things down, close-ups of young listeners (dancing, drugged, or suffering Angel shock), and a look at the Stones later as they watch concert footage and reflect on what happened. Written by <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The music that thrilled the world ... and the killing that stunned it!


Documentary | Music


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:



Release Date:

6 December 1970 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Los Rolling Stones (Gimme Shelter)  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$18,576 (USA) (11 August 2000)


$252,570 (USA) (17 November 2000)

Company Credits

Production Co:

,  »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


It was reported in the San Jose Mercury that the California Highway Patrol observed heavy traffic from as far away as Bakersfield caused by cars headed to this concert. If current laws were enforced in 1969, The Rolling Stones would have received a bill from the California Highway Patrol and other law enforcement agencies for traffic enforcement duties related to this event. See more »


Hell's Angel: They told me, if I could sit on the stage so nobody climbed over me, I could drink beer till the show was over.
See more »


Love in Vain
Written by Robert Johnson
Performed by The Rolling Stones
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Interesting but badly in need of insight and discussion from those involved
3 September 2006 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

In 1969 the Rolling Stones were on their tour of America and planned to finish it with a surprise appearance at a free concert in Golden Gate park San Francisco. However when this fact came out at a Stone's press conference the numbers predicted to attend swelled and the gig had to be moved. After several changes and at the last minute, the Altamont Raceway was selected as the venue. The organisers asked for a chapter of the Hells Angels to be in charge of security. During the concert many scuffles broke out and one young man was stabbed to death. With the Stones themselves, the Maysles brothers look back over the concert in regards the performances and the wider impact the event had.

Although not quite as good as I had hoped it would be, this film was still pretty interesting as it captures "the end of the sixties" in the Altamont concert murder and the performances of the Stones in their prime. Although it was the former I had come for, the music was pretty good and the sound quality was surprisingly good. The one big complaint I have about the footage from all the Stone's performances is that I had to assume that the rest of them were on stage with Jagger – because the camera stays tight on him and never leaves him for long. It is a bit annoying but I suppose it doesn't affect the music.

The most gripping part of the film though is the actual events around the Altamont concert itself. The build up is interesting because you can see the seeds of chaos being planted in the planning stage – with the "secret" coming out being followed by the last minute planning and general disorganisation. This is followed by the concert itself which gradually becomes more and more chaotic. It is gripping to watch the fights break out and see things spiralling out of control – it is impressive how well the footage came out. Having seen Salesman, I knew the Maysles' tended to sit back and just film their subjects but this only works if you can get them to speak or emote. Sadly here Mick and Keith simply watch the concert footage and, aside from looking a bit shocked and asking a few questions they don't say anything. Certainly there is nothing approaching insight or discussion from anyone. Although it is possible to draw your own conclusions from the footage to a degree, it cries out for discussion and reflection which is not forthcoming.

Without this it is nowhere near as interesting or valuable as it should have been. The performances make it worth seeing and watch the farcical organisation translation into a violent and chaotic concert is an interesting experience. Although their fly-on-the-wall technique is respected amongst filmmakers, I did find myself wishing that someone other than the Maysles' had made this film.

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