Locally raised artists like Iggy Pop, the MC5 and Alice Cooper make Detroit one of the preeminent stops for any musical historian looking to revisit the roots of rock and roll, but so many other U.S. cities also offer rare opportunities to embrace music’s long and winding road. Road trips are on the rise again, and they allow folks to make musical pilgrimages to distinct parts of the country to celebrate past sounds. For those looking for a rock and roll driving adventure that relives the classic 1960s sound scene away from the sweltering Motor City summer, venture west for historical sights in a comfortable, cool climate.
The Rolling Stones Still Gather No Moss
Start your musical journey in the tiny town of Tracy, California, about 90 minutes east of San Francisco, where the site of the infamous 1969 Rolling Stones concert at the now-defunct Altamont Speedway took place. The chaos of that hastily organized free concert turned deadly when the Hells Angels bikers, who were paid in booze for security detail, notoriously stabbed one concertgoer to death as he tried to rush the stage, which was eerily caught on film in the legendary Gimme Shelter documentary.
To bring this scenic road trip full circle, make sure you’re driving a car that will comfortably meet all your needs as you meander up the 101 Freeway: make sure you enjoy the ride along the pristine Pacific coastline; the journey is part of the fun. You'll arrive a leisurely couple days later in Seattle where Mick Jagger and the Stones will perform live on August 14, 2019 at CenturyLink Field.
Rock Along The Road
As you travel to Seattle, take a detour over to the 5 Freeway, driving about 90 minutes north of the Altamont site to Represa, California, and tour Folsom State Prison where Johnny Cash performed his most famous concert for inmates in 1968. When finally arriving in Seattle, seek out the birth home and final resting place of guitar legend Jimi Hendrix at Greenwood Memorial Park in Renton, Washington. Of course, no rock road trip to the Pacific Northwest would be complete without embracing the grunge movement that began in Seattle in the early 90s, with a trip to the house where Nirvana leader Kurt Cobain lived and tragically died by his own hand.
Like the traveling musical artists we embrace, hitting the highway on a rocking road tour is the best way to honor the history of rock and roll. Cruising up the west coast from Northern California to Seattle offers a memorable snapshot of iconic musical moments and famous lives sadly cut short. Exploring the past puts the present into perspective, and assures that rock and roll will never die.