Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Rolling Stones Rock n Roll Circus - London 1968

"You are about to be transported to another age; swinging London in the late Sixties. The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus is a time capsule. Two days in December 1968 that in many ways capturee the spontaneity, aspirations and communal spirit of an entire era. ...for a brief moment it seemed that rock 'n' roll would inherit the earth."
--- David Dalton (founding editor of Rolling Stone Magazine)
Invitation - December 11, 1968

Rock and Roll Circus

It is early morning Wednesday, December 11, 1968. Paul Lovell has catched the first train from Birmingham into London. Today he was supposed to have an exam at school, but nowit is more important business to take care of.
Last month, he had received the monthly fan club letter, telling about a special concert to be held by the Rolling Stones on Dec. 11. Being fan club member number 10,435 since Oct. 1964, and knowing the fan club had grown to probably 20,000 by now, he realized he didn't have much chance of getting tickets to the special event. Much to his surprice, the tickets arrived, red print on a yellow card. He even got an extra ticket for Barbara!
About 300 people has queued up outside the Intertel Studios, Wembley, in the morning. There seems to be one entrance only for the place. While queuing up each of the performing artists is arriving. John Lennon arrives in a Rolls with Yoko Ono, being one of the first times they show up publicly together. The Stones and all the others walk by the fans queuing up. This is really developing to something very special...
When entering the studio, which is a TV recording building, he has to turn in his ticket, signing on it, stating his appearance on any film taken is not his property. All fans are given special red, orange and yellow ponchos, and large, strage hats. Inside the studio, the Stones have arranged for a Circus being built, like a half circle part of the circus, so that there is space for the cameras and crew. The fans are free to find a seat in the half circle around the center canvas, and Paul is selecting a central spot a couple of rows from the front.
The show is soon starting up. Mick Jagger is saying welcome, dressed up as a ringmaster. and the first band is on.
Jethro Tull is a new group. They do their song "Song For Jeffrey".

Then The Who is on with their set.

This is not a normal concert. The songs are done several times, and film shooting is not done all the time. There are plenty of breaks. During the breaks, the fans are free to walk wherever they like. Paul is finding himself standing next to Mick, then some time later next to Keith. Being a veteran Stones fan by now, since his first concert in 1964, he does not want to bother any of the Stones, asking for autographs. But when he bumps into John Lennon, he simply ask for his autograph. After all, John is a big star, but not in the same league as the Stones, at least not to Paul...

Taj Mahal is next.

Then the important appearance by Marianne Faithfull. This is the apperance when Mick wants everything to be right. Marianne is to be a major star, and Mick has been working hard on the set. Marianne is beautifully located in the center of the circus ring. She performs Something Better, and the camera is rotating 180 degrees around the circus ring, making a perfect panning.

This is really a strange event. There are circus artists performing in-between the sets. Nobody have planned this in detail. Things seems to take much longer time than originally planned for. People are getting tired and hungry. There is a break in the evening for food. Then there are more rehearsals and camera takes. During one of the breaks, Paul find himself next to Brian Jones on the men's room. Again, privacy first, no autographs...

It's about midnight, and still the Stones have not been on. this will probably take till tomorrow! John Lennon is showing up, leading a supergroup of himself, Eric Clapton, Keith Richards and Mitch Mitchell.

Then Yoko Ono is joining. It's now about 2 o'clock in the morning, and finally, it's time for the Rolling Stones! Mick has changed into causal wear, and they jump into their set of songs taken from Beggars Baquet, being released just before the week-end.
Jumping Jack Flash is on. The Stones are great! Then Parachute Woman and No Expectations.

Brian is great; great slide. They do several takes. Some people in the crowd is now really sleepy! You Can't Always Get What You Want. More takes. The Stones doesn't seem to be satisfied with what they are doing.

Then Sympathy For The Devil, which they have been rehearsing a while back for the One Plus One film. At 5 am in the morning Sympathy is perfect - may be not to the Stones - but it's perfect!

Then they all move into the crowd, all wearing ponchos, the chords of Salt Of The Earth is sounding, Keith and Mick is singing the closing song.
(Salt of the Earth)

Then it's over. Not a usual concert, but a memory for life time.The fans are saying goodbye. The Stones have rranged for transportation. Paul and Barbara is hanging around in London for the first train back to Birmingham. Well, doesn't bother about the exam, the concert, the rehearsals and the happening is still strong in the mind...


At 10/23/2009 02:46:00 PM , Blogger The Knitter said...

Class concert. Some great tunes. Apparently the Stones were unhappy with their performances - can't see why! Great to see John Lennon, a guitarist with a popular beat combo from Liverpool, in commanding form. Brian did look a bit out of it ,,, and apparently this was his last appearance with the band.

At 11/02/2009 03:30:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember the Circus! Thanks for the memories - I can't believe the Stones were unhappy with their performance either. This was what got me in to them! Seems like yesterday but now I'm teaching the Stones to my grandchildren (found these lullaby versions - Babies Go Rolling Stones - they're awesome.). Keep it up - you got me rockin'!


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