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The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus (1996)

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Originally filmed in December 1968, "The Rock and Roll Circus" was originally intended to be released as a television special. The special was filmed over two nights and featured not only ... See full summary »

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Himself - Jethro Tull
Glenn Cornick ...
Himself - Jethro Tull
Clive Bunker ...
Himself - Jethro Tull
Tony Iommi ...
Himself - Jethro Tull
Himself - The Who
Himself - The Who
Himself - The Who
Himself - The Who
Taj Mahal ...
Jesse Ed Davis ...
Himself - Taj Mahal's Guitarist
Gary Gilmore ...
Himself - Taj Mahal's Bassist
Chuck Blackwell ...
Himself - Taj Mahal's Drummer
Himself - The Dirty Mac
Himself - The Dirty Mac


Originally filmed in December 1968, "The Rock and Roll Circus" was originally intended to be released as a television special. The special was filmed over two nights and featured not only the Rolling Stones but The Who, Jethro Tull (with future Black Sabbath guitarist Tommy Iommi filling in for the recently departed Mick Abrahams), Marianne Faithful and an all-star jam featuring John Lennon, Eric Clapton, Keith Richards and Mitch Micthell. Sadly, this also marked the final appearance of the Stones founder and original guiding light, Brian Jones, who would be dead within six months after filming the special. Written by Brian Washington <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


For a brief moment, it seemed Rock & Roll would INHERIT THE EARTH.


Documentary | Music





Release Date:

12 October 1996 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Oi Rolling Stones  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


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Did You Know?


For a fortnight in 1968, future Black Sabbath founder Tony Iommi briefly joined Jethro Tull as lead guitarist. This was his only public appearance with the band, but the performance was mimed - he never played live with Jethro Tull. See more »


Mick Jagger: You've heard of Oxford Circus, you've heard of Piccadilly Circus, and this is the Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus, and we've got sights and sounds and marvels to delight your eyes and ears, and you'll be able to see the very first one of those in a few moments.
See more »

Crazy Credits

SPECIAL THANKS Everyone's Mum... See more »


Featured in The Kids Are Alright (1979) See more »


Yer Blues
Written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney
Published by EMI-Blackwood Music, Inc.
Under license from ATV Music Corp. (Maclen)
Performed by The Dirty Mac
See more »

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User Reviews

underrated and flawed, hard-rocking & blues-filled highlights, and sideshow acts
4 February 2007 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I can't totally understand why the Rolling Stones were embarrassed by their performance here in their TV special Rock & Roll Circus. Sure, everything else you've heard about the Who outshining them is not far from the truth (it's definitely one of the Who's finest hours with Keith Moon). But they're no slackers here either (sans Brian Jones, who was on the decline and except for No Exceptions does nothing significant here with the band), and hearing them perform Jumpin Jack Flash and Parachutte Woman- the latter a fantastic blues tune from Beggars Banquet- is a fine delight from late 60s rock & roll. They also make sure to end the special on two high notes: Sympathy for the Devil makes for a powerful punch of music that rocks the socks off everyone in attendance and without Jagger's preening to the camera (only to the camera is it annoying, everything else is a given with him), it's one of the very best performances of that song, and there's a fine little ending with Salt of the Earth. It's nothing to be ashamed of on their end.

Then again, the acts that surround them both outshine and lack the punch of their performances, so maybe at the time of their heights (and the sentimental factor of Brian Jones's departure and death from the band soon after) contributed to the decision to keep it from the public. As mentioned, the Who are in the great 'maximum R&B' tradition with A Quick One (While He's Away), which has as thunderous momentum matched with a wicked sense of humor. Other notable acts are Jethro Tull (featuring a slightly dazed Tony Iommi on guitar), Taj Mahal (a musician I never heard before but was blown away by), and a one-night-only type of grouping with Lennon, Clapton, Richards and Mitch Mitchell doing Yer Blues, which actually comes very close to topping the Who's performance- it's that awesome a rendition of the song. The low-points, however, are like thorns on the side of the show, which are Marianne Faithful, who though very pretty sings like a pretty little goat, and the 2nd song by the Lennon group features one plus (violin) and one heavy minus (Yoko Ono's singing, which is like nails on a chalkboard). There's also the creepy sense that the audience looks like it's awaiting the 2nd coming, so to speak.

But it's always a lot of fun, the circus acts look cool in a kitsch kind of way, and there's a truly lively spirit going through all the performances. It's far from perfect, but it's a lot better than I expected, and will have a good place in my collection.

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