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More Hells Angels Jagger Death Plot

from New York Times blog The Board

The Hells Angels Vs. The Rolling Stones

 A small, strange news item earlier this month caught my eye:

Free All Hell's Angels

“A plot by the Hells Angels to kill Mick Jagger nearly 40 years ago failed when the would-be assassins, traveling by boat, encountered a storm and were thrown overboard, according to a new BBC radio series.”

Talk about your memorable mental images: a tiny boat in churning seas, stuffed with large men in leather vests, their bare, hairy arms flailing at the waves with paddles — or are those pool cues? The big capsize, the long dogpaddle to shore, the dejected ride home, chastened hit men shivering on their Harleys, dripping from beard to boots.

Maybe the story is true, but I doubt it. It’s based on a 1985 F.B.I. interview with John Joseph Miller, a former Hell’s Angel who became a government informer.

By his account, the Angels were furious at being fired as bodyguards for the Stones after the group’s disastrous 1969 concert at the Altamont Speedway in California, where Angels beat and fatally stabbed a fan. They plotted murderous revenge by sea, Mr. Miller said, because that was the easiest way onto Mr. Jagger’s heavily guarded Long Island estate.

The F.B.I. report is on The Smoking Gun.

Mr. Miller’s account is dubious, for a few reasons beyond the simple fact that bikers generally aren’t sailors, and vice versa. It’s a secondhand account — Mr. Miller said he never was a member of the Angels’ New York City chapter, which supposedly hatched the plot. And Mark Young, the former agent who relates the tale to the BBC, said it happened on Long Island Sound. Mr. Jagger’s home was in the Hamptons, on the Atlantic Ocean.

We’re grateful to Mr. Young and Mr. Miller, though, because they led us to the radio series on BBC4 that rehashes the plot. It’s called “The F.B.I. at 100,” and it’s a lot of fun.

The British reporter is named Tom Mangold, and it’s hard to listen to him and not think of Opal, the BBC reporter played by Geraldine Chaplin in Robert Altman’s great 1975 movie, “Nashville.” You may recall her walking through a school-bus parking lot, talking into a tape recorder while trying to capture the essence of America, or something:

“The buses! The buses are empty and look almost menacing, threatening, as so many yellow dragons watching me with their hollow, vacant eyes.”

The sonorous Mr. Mangold reaches almost as far in his portentous enthusiasm. This is him on the F.B.I.’s campaign against organized crime:

“The Mafia was the rotten core of America, and its fat cats fed free off the body of the nation.”

And on that motorcycle gang:

“There was one group of organized criminals the bureau. had never tackled. They may have had a slightly wacky and romantic image, but in truth they were violent, dangerous, largely impenetrable, and at the extremes, drug dealers and killers on an industrial scale: THE HELL’S ANGELS.”

I’d share more but I don’t want to ruin it for you. A series about the F.B.I. from a country where a “hoover” is a vacuum cleaner — you don’t see such a thing very often, and it’s something to savor, or rather savour.

Here’s how to hear this odd bit of radio:

1. Go to the BBC4 here to find two saved recordings: “The F.B.I. at 100″ and “The F.B.I. at 100 Omnibus.”

2. To the right of “The F.B.I. at 100 Omnibus” (NOT “The F.B.I. at 100) click on “Listen to latest show.”

3. Then click on “Listen using stand-alone Real Player” (you’ll find this option in the column on the left-hand side of the page) to download the program. You’ll be able to hear the Jagger Death Plot beginning at about 14:45. But it’s worth it to listen to the whole 57:57.

[ click to read article at NYT’s The Board ]

Posted on March 27, 2008 by Editor

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