The Rolling Stones have cut Brown Sugar from their US tour, at least for now, in the wake of criticism over its lyrics referring to slavery.
- Lead singer Mick Jagger said in 1995 that he “never would write that song now”
- The lyrics reference beating and having sex with young slaves
- The song has been described as “gross, sexist, and stunningly offensive toward black women”
The song, officially released in 1971, opens with the lyric “Gold Coast slave ship bound for cotton fields” and references beating enslaved people, and sex with young enslaved women.
“You picked up on that, huh?” Keith Richards told the Los Angeles Times in a recent interview, when asked about the song’s absence at the British band’s stadium shows.
“I’m trying to figure out with the sisters quite where the beef is. Didn’t they understand this was a song about the horrors of slavery? But they’re trying to bury it. At the moment I don’t want to get into conflicts.
“I’m hoping that we’ll be able to resurrect the babe in her glory somewhere along the track.”
In recent years, magazine critics and others in the industry have criticized the song as racist, including New York Magazine’s Lauretta Charton, who called the track “gross, sexist, and stunningly offensive toward black women”.
“We’ve played Brown Sugar every night since 1970, so sometimes you think, We’ll take that one out for now and see how it goes,” frontman Mick Jagger told the LA Times.
“We might put it back in.”
In 1995, Jagger told Rolling Stone magazine that “I never would write that song now”.
“I would probably censor myself. I’d think, ‘Oh God, I can’t. I’ve got to stop’,” he said.
After a long pause due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Stones resurrected their No Filter tour in September with Steve Jordan in the drummer’s chair in place of Charlie Watts, who died in August.
They will play a string of dates into November 2021 including in Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Detroit.