List of Artists Who Reconsidered Controversial Lyrics: Rolling Stones Retire ‘Brown Sugar’
During a recent interview with The Los Angeles Times, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards revealed that the Rolling Stones will not be performing their classic 1971 single “Brown Sugar” during their “No Filter” tour this fall.
The song’s lyrics, which include references to a slave ship and violence against Black women in the first few verses, have sparked debate for decades. According to Rolling Stone, the song has been constantly performed onstage by the band for the past five decades, and it ranks second on the group’s list of commonly sung songs at live events.
In a 1995 interview with Rolling Stone, Jagger stated that he “didn’t think” about the possible controversy at the time the song was written, and that he “would never compose that song now.” As people demonstrated against institutional racism in the United States and around the world last summer, record producer Ian Brennan expressed reservations about the Stones’ continued performance of “Brown Sugar.” “The concern is that they continue to perform and profit—and not just perform it, but feature it as the penultimate or final number on their most recent worldwide tour, a tour that shattered the all-time concert industry record for monetary gross at a single show,” Brennan said at the time to Rolling Stone.
The Stones are back on tour after more than a year and have chosen to cease playing the song—at least for the time being. “We’ve performed ‘Brown Sugar’ every night since 1970, so sometimes you think, ‘we’ll take that one out for now and see how it goes,'” Jagger told the Times ahead of their concerts in Los Angeles later this week. Richards also expressed hope that the band will be able to “resurrect the babe in her splendor somewhere down the track,” adding that the band “may put it back in” at some point. The band is far from the first to contemplate playing contentious lyrics years after the song’s release. Those reassessments have happened as recently as a few years following a song’s initial popularity.
Soon after its release in 2013, Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” sparked controversy due to its lyrics, which sparked a debate about consent. Pharrell Williams, who was featured on the in 2019, This is a condensed version of the information.