Rolling Stones Retire One of Their Most Popular Songs ‘Brown Sugar’

by Chris Haney

Fans of The Rolling Stones may have heard the band’s 1971 hit song “Brown Sugar” for the last time in concert. Frontman Mick Jagger and lead guitarist Keith Richards recently opened up about why the band retired their classic song for the foreseeable future. 

The Rolling Stones are currently on their rescheduled American leg of the “No Filter” tour. Fans in attendance may have wondered why one particular hit song has been absent from setlists. For decades, the band played “Brown Sugar” at almost every show they performed. However, the band hasn’t performed “Brown Sugar” in two years.

Last week, band members Mick Jagger and Keith Richards spoke to the Los Angeles Times about the lead single from their 1971 album Sticky Fingers. The pair admitted they haven’t played “Brown Sugar” because of the track’s reference to slavery.

“You picked up on that, huh?” Keith Richards said when asked about the band not playing the song. “I don’t know. 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.”

The single’s lyrics read, “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/Brown sugar, how come you taste so good?”

“At the moment I don’t want to get into conflicts with all of this s–t,” Richards explained. “But I’m hoping that we’ll be able to resurrect the babe in her glory somewhere along the track.”

The Rolling Stones Haven’t Played ‘Brown Sugar’ Since 2019

In August 2019, the Rolling Stones last played “Brown Sugar” at their Miami, Flo. show at Hard Rock Stadium. While also speaking with the LA Times, Jagger mirrored Richards’ comments about the song. Yet he made sure to add that the band may play the song once again down the line.

“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. We might put it back in,” Jagger told the outlet.

This isn’t the first time the rock and roll icons have addressed the controversy surrounding the single’s lyrics. In 1995, Jagger spoke about “Brown Sugar” and admitted that he wouldn’t write a song with similar lyrics at that point of his career.

“I never would write that song now. I would probably censor myself,” he told Rolling Stone magazine that year. “I’d think, ‘Oh God, I can’t. I’ve got to stop. I can’t just write raw like that.’ “

The Rolling Stones are currently making their way across the U.S. on tour. The much-delayed “No Filter” tour began on Sept. 26 in St. Louis. Their next stop is at Los Angeles’ SoFi Stadium for two shows on Thursday night and Sunday night. The tour runs through next month and ends in Austin, Texas on Nov. 20.