The Rolling Stones Rock & Roll Circus Turns 40

On December 11, 1968 the Rolling Stones staged a show intended for British television called the Rock & Roll Circus. The Stones & their friends/ musical guests played live in a big top circus themed atmosphere. A select few were invited as the audience and they were told to wear bright colors & capes to add to the atmosphere. The show began at 2 PM but never finished until the next morning due to technical breakdowns. The film was produced by Michael Lindsey Hogg who had directed the Sixties music TV show Ready Steady Go!! and a couple of Stones promo video's in the mid sixties. (He would go on to direct the Beatles Let It Be movie the next year.)

The film never was aired by the BBC as the Stones pulled the plug at the last minute. They felt thier performance was poor due to the fact they didnt play until 5AM and were tired. It's clear Brian Jones was in bad health & may have weakend the performance as well.The movie was finally released in 1996 with a CD as well.

The Stones were with their original line up and at the end of the Brian Jones era. It was his last performance with the band, and he is clearly not in the best shape. Maybe not the Stones best performance because they clearly are tired, but a damn good one. The young Stones are introduced by John Lennon and do all new songs from that time period. "Jumping Jack Flash" "Parachute Woman" "No Expectations" "You Cant Always Get What You Want" "Sympathy For the Devil" & the finally "Salt of the Earth". Some great crowd shots of people swaying & dancing including John & Yoko & the special guests.

Besides the Stones the concert features an incredible performance by The Who who were on top of their game at the time. Many say the reason the Stones didn't release the movie was because the Who's performance blew them away. The Who's performance was featured in thier 1979 "Kids Are Alright: movie. They were introduced by non other than Kieth Richards, & performed their first rock opera "A Quick One While He's Away".

After the entrance of the Gladiators theme music, Mick, dressed as the Ringmaster, introduces a young Jethro Tull to open the show. Ian Anderson is just starting to use his one legged flute playing trademark & on guitar for Tull is non other than Black Sabbath's Tony Iommi. He did a very brief stint in the Tull and this was his only live show. They perform "Song For Jeffrey".

Mick Jagger's swinging model/singer/actress girl friend at the time Marianne Faithful sings a couple of songs as does the group Taj Mahl.

If all that wasn't enough, it was the only time the super group The Dirty Mac ever played together. The band consisted of : John Lennon on guitar & vocals - Eric Clapton on lead guitar - Keith Richards on bass - & Mitch Mitchell on Drums. The band played the Beatles "Yer Blues" from the White Album & "A Whole Lottta Yoko" which was a blues jam featuring violinist Ivy Gitlis & Yoko Ono screaming. She is in front of the stage in side a black bag during "Yer Blues". This was the first time Lennon appeared live with out the Beatles. The name Dirty Mac was invented by Lennon, as a sarcastic play on words for Fleetwood Mac who were very big in England at the time. (Pre Stevie Nicks). The band was introduced by Mick Jagger & John Lennon.


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