“Dirty Mac” The First Supergroup?
The Stones may have assembled the first supergroup when they decided to make a TV show combining rock music set in a circus.
Titled “The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus,” they invited the cream of the cream of contemporary rock on November 12th, 1968.
The result and possibly, the first supergroup: “The Dirty Mac,”an amazing John Lennon fronting the world’s first disposable supergroup, backed by Eric Clapton (ex-Cream, lead guitar–of course), Mitch Mitchell (drummer for The Jimi Hendrix Experience) and Keith Richards (The Rolling Stones, bassist – yes, bass guitar!!).
Lennon played rhythm guitar and named the group in homage to Fleetwood Mac who had recently broken into the UK music scene. They played two takes of “Yer Blues” from “The White Album” (released 3 weeks before hand). “Yer Blues” is arguably John and the Beatles heaviest, most bluesy song and the Dirty Mac played it with soul. Lennon, as always was a great performer even though he did fluff the lyrics a few times, according to observers.
Eric and Mitch slotted right in although didn’t really add anything more than George and Ringo did to the studio track. Keith, an unusual choice for bass guitar, didn’t quite live up to the high standard set by Paul. “The Dirty Mac” also back Yoko in one of her characteristically, forgettable, goat warbles.
Unfortunately, “The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus“ was shelved without release and remained locked away “in the can.” For many years it was one of the holy grails of rock and roll folk lore, often discussed. However before the age of free and open sharing provided by the internet, the music was rarely heard by anyone outside the Stones inner sanctum.
The DVD of the show was finally released 28 years later in 1996. It is reputed that at the time it was recorded, the Stones weren’t happy with their own performance, particularly compared to The Who, fresh from a successful tour. Ironically, reviewing the DVD 45 years after the recording was made, The Who come across as enthusiastic although dated, where the performance of The Rolling Stones, like that of The Dirty Mac, truly stands the test of time.
– Billy Shears, 2/22/2013