First published by Gerald "Gerry" Rothberg in October 1966 as Hullabaloo, the magazine lasted 23 issues before being retitled Circus with the March 1969 issue (above). Several of the magazine's early contributors appear in the 2016 documentary Ticket to Write: The Golden Age of Rock Music Journalism talking about their experiences and there is a website dedicated to the oral history of Circus. Though publisher and editor in chief Rothberg stayed for the entire run, Circus underwent many changes throughout its long history, eventually rivaling Rolling Stone in both circulation and talented staff.
From 1974-1977, a spin-off magazine titled Circus Raves was published as well. Another unique aspect of Circus was the fact that at various times, it was a monthly, a bi-weekly and even a weekly publication. In May 2006, battered by a changing musical landscape, dwindling readership and devastating financial losses, Rothberg announced the end with this email to his small group of staffers:
To All Circus Mag Contributors:
It is with sadness and a deep sense of loss that I must inform you that I've experienced great financial loss, which includes Circus Magazine. Over the last year, I've tried my best to hold on to Circus Mag, selling all my personal possessions, including my home, pumping the money into the mag. And I've lost all. I've held off contacting people because of the shame and humiliation I've experienced. I'm broke. I feel like Humpty Dumpty who had a great fall.
Circus Magazine is in foreclosure. Will the magazine be resurrected? I don't know. If it will appear on the newsstands again, we'll find out. Let me say this now, I appreciate and a I am grateful your contributions all these years and wish all my freelance contributors the best of health and success.
Over the years, especially during the decade of 1976-1985, I probably bought three maybe four dozen issues of Circus (and read dozens more right there at the newsstand) before tossing them all in the Great Purge of 2000. Here's your cover gallery for 1977.
Some of the these will embiggen if you tickle them with your mouse.
You can also watch a collector flip through his collection of 1977 issues HERE.
To watch a shorter version of the same commercial aimed at newsstand buyers, click HERE.