Details have finally been released on the 50th anniversary Rolling Stones Rock And Roll Circus collection coming on June 7th. According to the announcement, “The film will be released in a Limited Deluxe Edition which is a multi-format package of Blu-Ray, DVD, and a two-CD soundtrack. The film will also be available for digital download (TVOD) and for the first time available on Blu-ray.”
Among the previously unheard bonus tracks featured on the set is the Dirty Mac — the one-time-only supergroup featuring John Lennon, Keith Richards, Eric Clapton, and Mitch Mitchell — running through the Beatles' “Revolution.” Highlights also include commentary by Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Bill Wyman, Yoko Ono, Marianne Faithfull, Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson, Taj Mahal, Circus director Michael-Lindsey Hogg, and cinematographer Tony Richmond.
The Rock And Roll Circus was shot at London's Twickenham Studios on December 10th and 11th, 1968 and was originally envisioned as being a holiday special for the Stones to promote their latest album, Beggars Banquet. The program featured the band's final performance with Brian Jones, along with along with performances by the Who, Jethro Tull, Marianne Faithfull, Taj Mahal, and the Dirty Mac.
Not only was The Rock And Roll Circus John Lennon's first gig apart from the Beatles, it was also his first live appearance with Yoko Ono, when she joined the Dirty Mac for an impromptu jam.
Many reasons have been given as to why the Stones eventually shelved the show — but the main one seems to be that the Who was reaching the peak of their performing career and were caught while limbered up from an exhausting series of UK dates. Simply put, the Stones' ragged set was completely upstaged by Lennon's first solo performance and the Who's incredible run-through of their 1966 mini-opera “A Quick One While He's Away.” To underline the fact that the Stones were not at their best, plans were in motion shortly after for the Who to purchase the rights to the special and release it as The Who's Rock And Roll Circus.
We recently caught up with Rock And Roll Circus director Michael Lindsey-Hogg, who explained how John Lennon, Keith Richards, Eric Clapton, and Mitch Mitchell became, arguably, the greatest band that only played together once: “We have a big gap, like a six-minute gap in the show; we know it's going to be the Who, it's going to be Jethro Tull, it's going to be Taj Mahal, it's going to be Marianne (Faithfull). So, then we think, 'Who will fill in on, y'know, 48 hours notice? Who can we get to do this job?' And we thought of Paul McCartney, but we thought he probably would not want to play without the Beatles. So, we thought, 'Call John,' and so he said, 'Yeah, I'm in.' He said I've been playing for fun with Eric Clapton, so Eric can play, I'll play and Keith Richard if he wants to play bass, and we'll get it Mitch Mitchell from (the Jimi) Hendrix (Experience).' So, the super-group was put together, really in 48 hours — but that was very much the mood of the times.”