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August 24, 2022

50 Amazing Photographs From The Rolling Stones Rock N’ Roll Circus

The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus was a concert show organized by the Rolling Stones on 11–12 December 1968. The show was filmed on a makeshift circus stage with Jethro Tull, The Who, Taj Mahal, Marianne Faithfull, and The Rolling Stones. John Lennon and his fiancee Yoko Ono also performed as part of a one-shot supergroup called The Dirty Mac, featuring Eric Clapton, Mitch Mitchell (also part of The Jimi Hendrix Experience), and Keith Richards.

The project was originally conceived by Mick Jagger as a way to promote the new record Beggars Banquet beside conventional press and concert appearances. Jagger approached Michael Lindsay-Hogg, who had directed two promos for Rolling Stones songs, to make a full-length TV show for them. According to Lindsay-Hogg, the idea of combining rock music and a circus setting came to him when he was trying to come up with ideas; he drew a circle on a piece of paper and free-associated.

The Rolling Stones and their guests performed in a replica of a seedy big top on a British sound stage—the Intertel (V.T.R. Services) Studio, Wycombe Road, Wembley—in front of an invited audience. The performances began at around 2 pm on December 11, 1968, but setting up between acts and reloading cameras took longer than planned, which meant that the final performances took place at almost 5 o’clock in the morning on the 12th.

By that time the audience and most of the Rolling Stones were exhausted. It was only due to Jagger’s sheer enthusiasm and stamina that they kept going until the end. Regardless, Jagger was reportedly so disappointed with his and the band's performance that he cancelled the airing of the film, and kept it from public view.

This was the last public performance of Brian Jones with the Rolling Stones, and for much of the Stones performance he is inaudible, although his slide guitar on “No Expectations,” maracas on “Sympathy for the Devil,” and rhythm guitar on “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” remain clear. The last song, “Salt of the Earth,” was sung live by Keith Richards and Mick Jagger to the pre-recorded tape from the Beggars Banquet studio album on which the song had been released.


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