The Rolling Stones’ Rock ‘n’ Roll Circus- December 11, 1968: As seen through the lens of Michael Randolph


I’m delighted to announce that foreign rights are now available for this extraordinary forthcoming title…

The legendary portrait photographer, Michael Randolph had known The Rolling Stones since the early 1960s and on 11 December 1968, following an invitation by the group’s founding member, Brian Jones, he was able to visit the set of their latest venture, a big-top-themed concert which went by the name of The Rolling Stones’ Rock ‘n’ Roll Circus. The black & white images he took that day, over 200 in total, would become totally iconic.

Known for his excellent images of leading ladies such as Sophia Loren, Vanessa Redgrave, Dame Edith Evans and for his superb, behind-the-scenes photographs taken during the making of James Bond’s You Only Live Twice, Michael Caine’s Deadfall, and Simon Ward’s Young Winston, Randolph was the only recognised photographer at the event which, unbeknown to everyone at the time, would become the last time that some of the decade’s most famous and celebrated musical stars would gather to play together under one UK roof.

Legendary performers of the day, including Beatle, John Lennon, Cream guitarist, Eric Clapton, The Who, Marianne Faithfull, Jethro Tull (featuring Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi on guitar) as well as The Rolling Stones themselves were all captured by Randolph in pin-sharp quality. He managed to eavesdrop on them relaxing, rehearsing, and philosophising and witnessed first-hand, and up-close the performances, highlights of which included the “super group”, Dirty Mac, which comprised of Lennon, Clapton, Jimi Hendrix Experience’s drummer, Mitch Mitchell and The Stones’ Keith Richards. The Rock ‘n’ Roll Circus was also the last time that Brian Jones was seen strumming his guitar in public. The years had not treated him well and he could hardly play anymore… and it showed. The images Randolph captured that day, in jaw-dropping quality, show him weary and lethargic.

In the Fall of 2014 music historian, archivist and author, Keith Badman approached Randolph with an idea to dust-down his most prized snaps and allow digital restoration for a definitive publication of the event. Alongside Michael’s spellbinding collection of black and white images, there is also a selection of colour photographs depicting the event.

This inspired and insightful book is co-written by Keith Badman and designer, artist and author Paul Skellett. This beautiful publication will feature many tales about the show; how 5-year-old, Julian Lennon, on the set that day with his dad and Yoko, was introduced to ‘Pot’; the anger and frustration by the performers when the innovative French movie cameras employed on the set kept packing up, how the fledgling Led Zeppelin was passed over as the opening act in favour of Jethro Tull and how the film shot that day went missing and was not found until 1989, 21 years after the event, languishing in band mate, Ian Stewart’s barn propped against some bales of hay, on the verge of being thrown out.

Pictures and text combined, this will serve as the ultimate deluxe publication of The Stones’ Rock ‘n’ Roll Circus, the very last major UK pop/ rock get-together of the 1960s, when some of the world’s best musicians of the day came together to play for one last time. Published in various limited editions in the UK by Archivum, the book is produced by Paul Skellett, co-author and designer of the highly-applauded sell out releases, Eight Arms To Hold You, All You Need Is Love and Tom Murray’s Mad Day Out. “Our mission is to create beautiful and affordable collectible books that only fans can own,” said Paul Skellett co-owner of Archivum Publications. “These releases are strictly limited edition. Fans won’t see these in the stores. It gives them a really beautifully made and presented adventure through the rehearsals and performance of The Rolling Stones’ truly legendary day.”