Clocking in at nearly nine minutes, the clip features the band tearing through the rowdy Beggars Banquet track. It took place on December 12th, 1968 — just six days after the album was released. It also marks the final public performance of the original Stones lineup — Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Bill Wyman, Charlie Watts, and Brian Jones.
Rock and Roll Circus also featured performances by the Who, Yoko Ono, Marianne Faithfull, Jethro Tull, Taj Mahal, and the impromptu supergroup the Dirty Mac (John Lennon, Keith Richards, Mitch Mitchell, and Eric Clapton). Directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg, it was set for a BBC special but never aired due to Jones’ departure from the band and death the following summer. Circus wouldn’t see an official release until 1996.
Richards recalled that the film took roughly 36 hours to shoot. “I remember not remembering everything toward the end, but it was fun,” the guitarist said in a statement. “We went through two audiences…wore one out…it was great!”
“There was no audience,” Lindsay-Hogg said. “There was just Mick playing to the camera and the band playing. But here he had to pull out of himself, especially on the last song, ‘Sympathy for the Devil,’ at five-thirty in the morning, the last shred of the great performer that he is. The camera was right there in front of him to use as he wanted. It wasn’t observing him from a distance; it was two feet away from him and he and the cameras were molded to each other almost because he used it so wonderfully.”
The Stones reissued a deluxe edition of 1973’s Goats Head Soup in September. They dropped the aptly named single “Living in a Ghost Town” last spring, and are currently working on a new album. “I’ve been singing quite a lot, and I’ve been exercising quite a lot, so I’m keeping that bit together,” Jagger recently told Rolling Stone. “I’m not in such a bad position. Can’t feel sorry for yourself. But yeah, I miss performing.”