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‘Gimme Shelter’ Director Albert Maysles Dies at 88

Albert Maysles David Maysles Mick Jagger
Stanley Bielecki Movie Collection, Getty Images

Albert Maysles, the award-winning documentary filmmaker who made the Rolling Stones‘ classic Gimme Shelter, has died. He was 88 years old. According to The New York Times, Maysles died of natural causes in his Manhattan home last night.

Maysles and his younger brother David, who died in 1987, got their start in the mid-’50s making documentary films together. In 1964, just as Beatlemania was making its way to the U.S., the siblings followed the Beatles around during their first American visit. The results were a fascinating, early look at the group — made even more intimate by the Maysles’ cinema verite style, which eschewed narration and often kept the camera at a distance from its subject. As he once told The New York Times, “Making a film isn’t finding the answer to a question; it’s trying to capture life as it is.”

Throughout the ’60s, the brothers made films on some of culture’s biggest names, including Marlon Brando, Orson Welles and Truman Capote. In 1967, they helped fellow documentarian D.A. Pennebaker film the historic Monterey Pop concert, which gave Jimi Hendrix his big break. (In 1986, the footage was released separately as Jimi Plays Monterey.)

In 1969, the Maysles followed the Rolling Stones with their cameras as the group made plans to cap the year with a free concert at California’s Altamont Speedway. The movie they came up with, Gimme Shelter, turned out to be a watershed moment of rock ‘n’ roll filmmaking. Not only did they capture the weary band onstage, they also documented the killing of a fan by the Hells Angels, who were hired by the Stones to provide security at the show.

Over the next couple decades, the Maysles contributed to some great films, including Salesman, which chronicled door-to-door salesmen in the ’60s; When We Were Kings, about 1974’s Rumble in the Jungle boxing match between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman; and their best movie, Grey Gardens, which told the story of two eccentric relatives of Jackie Kennedy.

In recent years, he filmed the 2009 Rufus Wainwright concert film Milwaukee at Last!!! and was currently in post-production on a new movie, In Transit. During his 60-year career, he won two Emmys and was nominated for an Oscar.

Rock’s Tragic 27 Club

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