Ian Anderson Says Mick Jagger’s Performance Was Strained In Rock And Roll Circus

The Rolling Stones and a few other rock and roll bands planned the show Rock and Roll Circus back in 1968 but didn’t air it until 28 years later. Recently, Ian Anderson, also a performer, talked about The Stones’ appearance and criticized Mick Jagger’s performance.

The Stones made a TV program called Rock and Roll Circus on 11-12 December 1968, and Mick Jagger was the mastermind behind the production. The contributors to the show were Jethro Tull, The Who, Taj Mahal, and Marianne Faithfull. At the time, Jethro Tull lacked a guitar player, so they recruited Tony Iommi to play visually for the band and mime to Ian Anderson’s part.

The show’s production took much longer than expected, and the musicians were exhausted. It was supposed to air on BBC, but because Mick Jagger wasn’t happy with the outcome, he didn’t allow it to be aired. It was only made public almost 30 years after the production with Jagger’s permission. The 15-hour recording and some drug side effects made the musicians’ performances average, and Jagger was not comfortable putting it out there.

Ian Anderson spoke about that performance recently and, in a way, criticized Mick Jagger’s methods of producing. He stated that Jagger over-rehearsed, making the final performance ‘strained.’ He also said that The Who’s performance was great and Jethro Tull was just a new band, probably eager to perform. Yet, even though Jagger’s energy was a driving force for the newly reunited Stones, it was not a successful result.

Here is what Anderson said about Jagger:

“That was a people-watching experience. That was pretty weird but it was an interesting place to be because you were watching the way a very unusual TV program was being made. So, I was listening to what the director was saying, and Mick Jagger was trying to communicate his ideas to the directors. What was happening and how it should happen and it was interesting to watch the Stones getting back together again after a layoff and gradually picking up the pieces again musically and Mick Jagger’s incredible energy and enthusiasm driving them on. Maybe to the point where he overstretched it in rehearsal, so the final performance was maybe a bit strained.”

He continued:

“But The Who were great. They were fighting fit, ready to roll. They’d been on tour. They just went in bang and nailed it very easily. Some of the other elements of the show were interesting, but we were the new boys in town. We were just asked by Bill Wyman, and Charlie Watts I think mentioned to Mick, ‘How about this band? Brand new band.’ So we were asked to do it. We didn’t have a guitar player at the time. Hence, Toni Iommi was drafted in to mime the guitar parts on the song that we played.”

You can watch the interview below.