The Rolling Stones, always keen to keep up with The Beatles, wanted a television special to rival Magical Mystery Tour. Rock And Roll Circus was their version, intended to mix music with performers hired from Sir Robert Fossett’s Circus.
The film was made by Michael Lindsay-Hogg, and the cameraman was Tony Richmond, both of whom later worked on The Beatles’ Get Back/Let It Be project.
John Lennon and Yoko Ono were among the guest performers on the show. Others included Eric Clapton, Jethro Tull, Marianne Faithfull, The Who, drummer Mitch Mitchell, pianist Julius Katchen and blues singer Taj Mahal. Also invited to perform were Traffic and Cream, but both groups split up just before filming took place.
Rehearsals and camera tests began on 6 December at the Marquee Club, and preliminary recording took place on 8 December at Olympic Sound Studios, both in London. Lennon attended neither, but may have joined rehearsals at 8 and 9 December at the Londonderry House Hotel.
Filmed rehearsals began on this day at InterTel, an independent video facility at Stonebridge House in Wembley, London. The footage was captured on video and film, with sound recorded by Glyn Johns and Jimmy Miller on Olympic’s mobile studio. Lennon was also being filmed for an Austrian documentary titled John Lennon & Yoko Ono, which was made to coincide with the release of their film Rape.
Lennon’s performance for Rock And Roll Circus was filmed on the following day. He performed a version of ‘Yer Blues’ with Keith Richards, Eric Clapton and Mitch Mitchell, under the name The Dirty Mac.
In addition to rehearsing Yer Blues, on this day Lennon also played a version of Buddy Holly’s Peggy Sue with Jagger and Clapton, and sang Elvis Presley’s It’s Now Or Never.
Also on this day...
- 2011: Paul McCartney live at Ericsson Globe Arena, Stockholm, Sweden
- 2009: Paul McCartney live at Palais Omnisports de Paris-Bercy, Paris, France
- 1969: George Harrison live at Falkoner Theatre, Copenhagen with Delaney & Bonnie
- 1965: Live: Odeon Cinema, Hammersmith, London
- 1964: Ringo Starr leaves hospital
- 1963: Live: Gaumont Cinema, Doncaster
- 1962: Live: Cavern Club, Liverpool (lunchtime)
- 1961: Live: Hambleton Hall, Liverpool
- 1961: Live: Blue Gardenia Club, London
- 1960: John Lennon leaves Hamburg
Want more? Visit the Beatles history section.