The Rolling Stones are no longer playing their ‘70s hit “Brown Sugar” at their live shows, according to The Los Angeles Times.
Keith Richards confirmed to the newspaper that the band dropped the song from their ongoing “No Filter” tour across the U.S. following criticism of the song’s lyrics, which reference slavery.
“I’m trying to figure out with the sisters quite where the beef is,” Richards told the Times. “Didn’t they understand this was a song about the horrors of slavery? But they’re trying to bury it.”
Mick Jagger told the newspaper that the Stones have played “Brown Sugar” every night since 1970.
“Sometimes you think, ‘We’ll take that one out for now and see how it goes,’” Jagger said. “We might put it back in.”
The song’s lyrics, which start with, “Gold coast slave ship bound for cotton fields,” have long been controversial. In a 2019 op-ed for the Chicago Tribune, music producer Ian Brennan called for the Stones to drop the song, saying it glorified “slavery, rape, torture and pedophilia.”
Jagger told Rolling Stone magazine in 1995 that he likely would not have written the song years later.
“God knows what I’m going on about on that son. It’s such a mishmash. All the nasty subjects in one go,” he said after acknowledging that the song’s subject matter included slavery, sex and drugs. “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. I can’t just write raw like that.’”
The Rolling Stones kicked off their “No Filter” tour in St. Louis on Sept. 26. The tour marked the band’s first since 1963 without drummer Charlie Watts, who died in August after undergoing an unspecified medical procedure. He was 80.
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