Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

The Rolling Stones share remastered footage of first-ever "Sympathy For The Devil" performance

Illustration for article titled The Rolling Stones share remastered footage of first-ever Sympathy For The Devil performance
Screenshot: ABKCOVEVO

The Rolling Stones Rock And Rock Circus, a big concert and movie meant to promote the release of Beggars Banquet, took place back on December 12, 1968 but it took until 1996 for a film version of the concert to get released—and it wasn’t until 2018 that a remastered, Dolby-ed up 4K edition of the movie was made available. Now, ABKCO, the company responsible for the remaster, has shared one of the best clips from the release: The Rolling Stones’ first live performance of “Sympathy For The Devil.”

The performance took place less than a week after the release of Beggars Banquet, which “Sympathy For The Devil” opens, and is also notable for being the last time the original Stones line-up of Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts, Bill Wyman, and Brian Jones played live. In a statement on the clip’s release, Richards says Rock And Roll Circus was “an incredible shoot” that went on for “36 hours or something.”

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“I remember not remembering everything towards the end... but it was fun,” he adds. “We went through two audiences... wore one out... it was great!”

Despite the length of the shoot, the “Sympathy For The Devil” performance is killer—an energetic rendition with Jones’ playing maracas as part of a three-part percussion section and Jagger flopping all over the stage, working the crowd and camera by shaking, dancing, and eventually ripping off his shirt to expose a bunch of sweet demon tattoos. (Watch, too, for John Lennon lost in the song at about four minutes and 50 seconds in.)

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The Rolling Stones Rock And Roll Circus also featured sets from The Who, Marianne Faithfull, Jethro Tull, Taj Mahal, and appearances from plenty of other artists of the time. According to director Michael Lindsay-Hogg, delays meant the Stones played last, and “Sympathy For The Devil” was performed “at five-thirty in the morning.”

For more excerpts from Rock And Roll Circus, check out uploads of The Stones’ performing “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” and The Dirty Mac—a one-off group comprised of John Lennon, Keith Richards, Eric Clapton, and Jimi Hendrix drummer Mitch Mitchell—playing The Beatles’ “Yer Blues.”

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Contributor, The A.V. Club. Reid's a writer and editor who has appeared at GQ, Playboy, and Paste. He also co-created and writes for videogame sites Bullet Points Monthly and Digital Love Child.

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