There’s a very high likelihood that 1969 will not go down as one of The Rolling Stones’ favorites. Fans and beyond learned about the Altamont Festival tragedy, but that was not the only thing that went wrong for The Rolling Stones that year.
As NPR reminds us, in December 1968 The Stones gathered the cream of the rock crop to film a two day set of live presentations that was to be aired on the BBC. The film was to be called Rock and Roll Circus and featured acts by The Stones themselves, The Who, John Lennon, Eric Clapton, and others.
Unfortunately, The Stones were not happy with some of the shoots and wanted repeats, the whole project stalled and then the film stock just simply vanished in thin air, only to be discovered decades later in a hay barn in France.
The first part of the footage was originally released in 1996, but now, 50 years later, there’s a complete version,fully remastered with an accompanying soundtrack that includes previously unreleased material. According to Michael Lindsay-Hogg, who was a young director in the 1960s, their circus was exactly what its name says – a circus, complete with a live tiger, trapeze artists, and a 25-year-old Mick Jagger dressed as a ringmaster, and it “symbolized the decade to an almost-surreal degree.”
“The Who, Jethro Tull, Taj Mahal, Marianne Faithfull, John Lennon, Eric Clapton, and The Rolling Stones were the 1960s in one room. On the day, I knew that it was more than a rock and roll show. It was almost a document of its times.”