Rolling Stones retire their classic song Brown Sugar due to slavery reference in lyrics

The Rolling Stones have made the decision to retire one of their hit songs from their concert setlists for the time being.

The iconic rock band, which consists of Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood, are currently on their No Filter Tour, during which they have notably left out their song ‘Brown Sugar’.

“You picked up on that, huh?” Richards, 77, told the Los Angeles Times when asked why they ditched the track. “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.”

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Ronnie Wood, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones perform onstage at Nissan Stadium on October 09, 2021 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Getty)

The group have performed the hit single in nearly every live gig since its release in 1969.

In the track, they sing: “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?”

Richards told the Los Angeles Times the decision was not permanent and the band hopes to perform the track in concert at a later stage.

READ MORE: Watch the Rolling Stones open ‘No Filter’ tour with moving Charlie Watts tribute

The Rolling Stones taken in the 1960's, from left to right, Brian Jones, Bill Wyman, Charlie Watts, Keith Richards and Mick Jagger.
The Rolling Stones taken in the 1960’s, from left to right, Brian Jones, Bill Wyman, Charlie Watts, Keith Richards and Mick Jagger. (Getty)

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

Frontman Jagger confirmed: “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.” 

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