BBC: Hells Angels Tried to Kill Mick Jagger

After fabled Altamont show, biker gang planned to kill Rolling Stones frontman.

ByABC News via logo
January 8, 2009, 12:27 AM

March 3, 2008— -- Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger was the target of an assassination plot that the Hells Angels motorcycle gang attempted to carry out in 1969, according to a new British Broadcasting Corp. documentary.

Jagger escaped with his life only because a small boat used by the would-be assassins was swamped on the night of the planned hit, according to the report.

The Hells Angels planned to murder the super-slim, hip-shaking British rock icon after the gang had a dispute with the band about security at a December 1969 concert in northern California, according to the BBC documentary, which is based primarily on interviews with an FBI agent.

After an 18-year-old fan was stabbed to death in an encounter with Hells Angels members at the notorious free performance at Altamont, a former speedway, Jagger vowed not to associate with the Hells Angel ever again.

The concert was immortalized in a documentary shot at the venue called "Gimme Shelter." Hells Angels member Alan Passaro was arrested and tried for the stabbing death, caught on film, of Meredith Hunter, who got into a dispute with gang members near the stage as the Stones were performing. Passaro was acquitted in part because witnesses say Hunter pulled out a gun first and fired at least one shot. The Stones could see the fight, but were not aware it resulted in a fatality. The band finished its set and always said they feared a full-blown riot would erupt if they cut the concert short.

The story from that night was always that the biker gang was hired by the Stones to act as security at the free concert, an assertion long disputed by the Stones.

"The Hells Angels, at least, felt that they were hired. The legend was for $500 and free beer," said Rolling Stone magazine contributing editor David Wild.

In retaliation for Jagger's post-concert comments, the gang members hatched a plan to kill the Stones frontman at his holiday home in Long Island, N.Y., according to the documentary, which airs tonight.

"If they were trying to kill him it sounds like it was such a bungled, stony misadventure," Wild said.

A group of men reportedly tried to reach the singer's home by sea, but a storm hit their boat.

"Going by boat as they gathered the weaponry and their forces, a storm rolled up which nearly sunk the watercraft," former FBI agent Mark Young said in the documentary.

The turbulent weather threw everyone overboard and the gang made no other attempt on Jagger's life. The documentary is unclear about whether Jagger was ever informed about the plot on his life. The Associated Press contributed to this story.