Here’s What Happened When Members of the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Jimi Hendrix Experience and Cream Got on Stage Together

The Dirty Mac perform on 'The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus'
The Dirty Mac perform on 'The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus' (L-R): Eric Clapton, John Lennon and Keith Richards (Image credit: ABKCO)

On this day in 1996, The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus (opens in new tab) film finally saw its commercial release.

Initially intended as a means of promoting the Rolling Stones' 1968 album Beggars Banquet (opens in new tab) on British television, this unmissable concert movie was put together in December that year and features a host of talent including Jethro Tull, the Who, Taj Mahal and Marianne Faithful.

The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus is infamous for a number of reasons. Sadly, it was the last time founder Brian Jones would appear with the band due to his untimely death the following July.

Riddled with controversy, the production was withheld from being aired on the BBC by the Stones as they deemed their performance unsatisfactory.

Members of the Rolling Stones and friends watch a trapeze artist perform during rehearsals for the Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus at Internel television studio in Wembley, London on 10th December 1968. Back row from left to right are Bill Wyman, Brian Jones (1942-1969), John Entwistle (1944-2002) of the Who and Mitch Mitchell (1946-2008). Front row from left to right are Keith Moon (1946-1978), Charlie Watts, Yoko Ono, Julian Lennon, John Lennon (1940-1980) and Eric Clapton.

The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus set, December 1968. Back row (l-r): Bill Wyman, Brian Jones (1942-1969), John Entwistle (1944-2002) and Mitch Mitchell (1946-2008). Front row (l-r): Keith Moon (1946-1978), Charlie Watts (1941-2021), Yoko Ono, Julian Lennon, John Lennon (1940-1980) and Eric Clapton. (Image credit: Rolls Press/Popperfoto via Getty Images/Getty Images)

Director Michael Lindsay-Hogg revisited the abandoned project in 1992 but aborted his mission when it was discovered that key footage was missing.

Miraculously, further material was unearthed the following year in the Who’s private archive by producers Michael Gochanour and Robin Klein who finalized the cut that was eventually released on this day in 1996.

A particular highlight of The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus (opens in new tab) is the performance of the Beatles’ “Yer Blues” (from their eponymous 1968 LP known as the White Album (opens in new tab)) by John Lennon’s supergroup the Dirty Mac.

Comprising Lennon on vocals and rhythm guitar, Eric Clapton on lead guitar, Keith Richards on bass and Mitch Mitchell on drums, this short-lived dream team delivers a truly unforgettable rendition.

Lennon’s searing vocals and Clapton’s masterful lead work using his 1964 Gibson ES-335 semi-hollow render the performance extraordinary.

Bolstered by a stellar rhythm section, this one-off show by the Dirty Mac is the stuff of rock and roll legend.

Order The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus here (opens in new tab).

Rod Brakes is a music journalist with an expertise in guitars. Having spent many years at the coalface as a guitar dealer and tech, Rod's more recent work as a writer covering artists, industry pros and gear includes contributions for leading publications and websites such as GuitaristTotal Guitar, Guitar World (opens in new tab)Guitar Player (opens in new tab) and MusicRadar (opens in new tab) in addition to specialist music books, blogs and social media. He is also a lifelong musician.