‘Brown Sugar’ from tour setlist over lyrics depicting slavery The Rolling Stones remove

“Brown Sugar” ends: “How come you, how come you taste so good? Just like a, just like a Black girl should.”

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The song has faced renewed criticism amid heightened cultural awareness and sensitivity in light of the #MeToo and Black Lives Matter movements.

In 2019, music producer Ian Brennan accused the band of “glorifying slavery, rape, torture and pedophilia,” adding that they have “brazenly gotten away with this jeering harassment for decades.” He called for the songs to be removed from the radio.

“The issue today is not that they ever wrote the song. Nor that they have ever sung it. The fault is that they keep singing it,” Brennan wrote in The Chicago Tribune.
The Rolling Stones may have dubbed their tour “No Filter,” but the iconic rock band has filtered out one of their most popular songs from their setlist.

The band retired their 1971 hit song “Brown Sugar” from their current tour, for now, over “conflicts” surrounding the controversial lyrics that depict slavery, rape and drugs, guitarist Keith Richards confirmed to The Los Angeles Times.

“You picked up on that, huh?” Richards told the outlet after he was asked why the band has refrained from playing it. He added that he doesn’t understand the controversy.

“I’m trying to figure out with the sisters quite where the beef is,” Richards said. “Didn’t they understand this was a song about the horrors of slavery? But they’re trying to bury it. At the moment I don’t want to get into conflicts with all of this.”

USA TODAY reached out to The Rolling Stones for comment.

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Mick Jagger, from left, Steve Jordan and Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones perform during the “No Filter” tour at The Dome at America’s Center, Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021, in St. Louis. (

According to Genius’ song interpretation, “‘Brown Sugar’ runs through different white and Black sexual interactions,” including nonconsensual sex between a slave and slave owner, who had “total ownership of Black women but also had total physical and sexual access.”

The first verse of the song depicts slaves being sold in the slave trade in New Orleans and being beaten at will: “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.”

However, Richards and Mick Jagger both stated that “Brown Sugar” may not be gone for good.

“I’m hoping that we’ll be able to resurrect the babe in her glory somewhere along the track,” Richards told the LA Times. Jagger added, “We might put it back in.”

“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.

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