To coincide with its release on DVD, The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus will screen in fifty theaters nationwide on October 11th. This will be only the second screening of the performance film since its 1996 premiere at the New York Film Festival.
In December of 1968, the Rolling Stones rounded up some of rock’s biggest names (along with aerialists and fire-eaters) for a two-day shoot intended as a BBC TV special and limited theatrical release. Performances included the operetta “A Quick One While He’s Away” by the Who; songs by Yoko Ono, Jethro Tull and Marianne Faithfull; and John Lennon’s first solo material, backed by Keith Richards, Jimi Hendrix Experience drummer Mitch Mitchell and Eric Clapton (Cream had split the previous month). The rambling, free-form concert culminated in the Stones’ renditions of six songs, the highlight of which was a particularly intense “Sympathy for the Devil.”
But the hour-long film was shelved because co-producers the Stones were dissatisfied, feeling that the Who, fresh off their Magic Bus tour, had upstaged them. This was one of the Stones’ last performances with founding member Brian Jones, who was found dead in his swimming pool the following summer after exiting the band.
The Rock and Roll Circus DVD, which hits stores October 12th, has been remastered in surround sound and features new commentary from Mick Jagger and Richards and an interview with Who guitarist Pete Townshend.