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The Rolling Stones Rock & Roll Circus

Donetta is a freelance writer. She's had her poems published in Ink & Voices, The Mystic Blue Review, The Reverie, and Spillwords.

The Rolling Stones Circus Intention

The Rolling Stones had a plan to promote their new album, Beggars Banquet. On December 11th and 12th, 1968 was when the footage was recorded but wouldn't be released until it came out in theaters in 1996. According to some sources, The Rolling Stones weren't at their best and may have felt overshadowed by The Who. Others have said in interviews that Brian Jones was sick and this would be his last performance with the band he'd founded.

Mick Jagger along with director, Michael Lindsay-Hogg, came up with the idea to have a music extravaganza that brought in different musicians to perform under a big top tent.

The stage was designed to resemble the inside of a circus big top and joining the musicians for the show were members of Sir Robert Fossett’s Circus, including trapeze artists, clowns, acrobats, a tiger and a boxing kangaroo. The filming took place at Stonebridge House in Wembley.

Although the filming was supposed to last one day but ran over until 2 a.m. the next day. It's been said that time was a problem because each performance hadn't been taken into consideration.

1971 Rolling Stones

The Lineup

There was a musical line up that proved to be exciting including The Who, Taj Mahal, and Marianne Faithfull.

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The Dirty Mac consisted of Lennon, Richards, Clapton and Jimi Hendrix drummer Mitch Mitchell. This would be their only public performance in which the done a Beatles song, Yer Blues.

The audience was selected from The Rolling Stones fanclub after running a contest so that members could win tickets. There's some reports that a few of The Hell's Angels attended. Of course, aside from musical performers, there were circus performers too.

Sympathy for the Devil

Footage Shelved for Almost 30 Years

This musical/ circus would be shelved and claimed to be lost until in 1996 the movie premiered. There seem to be a lot of mixed beliefs as to why this was shelved. The Rolling Stones came out last to perform after hours of grueling performances and they didn't finish for 15 hours. It's reasonable to expect them to be exhausted.

Again, many articles blame Brian Jones for The Stones performance and many insist that The Who outshine The Stones.The Rolling Stones are the ones who said they didn't like the way they sounded but after a sluggish start, they finished strong.

The movie was released in 1996 which shows how iconic this event actually was. In 2019, a remastered movie of The Rolling Stones Rock & Roll Circus was released with never before seen interviews and performances. It's safe to say it hasn't killed their careers.

You Decide


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 Donetta Sifford

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