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The Rolling Stones Cancel Their Own Hit Song Over Slavery References

(Photo by KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

Nicole Silverio Contributor
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The Rolling Stones decided earlier in October to nix their early 1970s hit song “Brown Sugar” over its references to slavery for their upcoming concert performances.

The Stones have resumed touring across the U.S. in 2021 after cancelling all of their concerts due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The legendary rock ‘n’ roll band made the decision to remove “Brown Sugar” from their list of 80 songs performed at rehearsals due to its lyrics, The Los Angeles Times reported.

The opening lyrics of the song go as follows: “Gold coast slave ship bound for cotton fields/Sold in the market down in New Orleans/Scarred old slaver knows he’s doing alright/Hear him whip the women just around midnight.”

Keith Richards, the band’s co-songwriter and guitarist, criticized the decision to retire the famous song from being performed during their concert tour, according to the outlet.

“I don’t know. I’m still trying to figure that one 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,” Richards reportedly said. “At the moment I don’t want to get into conflicts with all of this sh*t. But I’m hoping that we’ll be able to resurrect the babe in her glory somewhere along the track.”

Lead singer Mick Jagger appeared to be more accepting of the decision but hinted that the song may be added back into the mix for future performances. (RELATED: The Rolling Stones Threaten To Sue Trump For Use Of Music After Cease-And-Desist Letter Ignored) 

“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,” Jagger said, according to the outlet. “We might put it back in.”

In a 1995 Rolling Stone interview, Jagger expressed his regret for writing the song, saying that he “would never write that song now.”  The band last performed the song in 2019 at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, Florida, according to The Independent.

The band has continuously rehearsed a long list of their hit songs from over the decades, including their 1960’s hits “Paint It Black” and “Satisfaction” and their new release “Living in a Ghost Town,” which the band recorded over quarantine in 2020, the Los Angeles reported.

The band recently suffered a tragic loss with the death of their 80-year-old drummer, Charlie Watts, in August.