Story at a glance

  • The Rolling Stones have removed one of their most popular songs from their live setlist.
  • The song, “Brown Sugar,” has faced criticisms due to its harrowing depictions of slavery.
  • Richards said the song could be added back into rotation in the future.

The Rolling Stones have removed one of their most popular songs from their live setlist due to its harrowing depictions of slavery.

The revelation that “Brown Sugar” had been removed from rotation in the band’s setlist was made in an interview guitarist Keith Richards had with The Los Angeles Times.

“You picked up on that, huh?” Richards, 77, said of the song’s absence.


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The song depicts the buying, selling and abuse of slaves in Louisiana, including a verse in which a “master” sexually assaults a young female slave. According to frontman Mick Jagger, the Rolling Stones have played “Brown Sugar” every night since 1970.

Richards emphasized in the interview that the intent of the song is to highlight the “horrors of slavery,” a historical reality he doesn’t believe should be buried. So while the band has ceased performing the song live for the time being, Richards added that they may very well begin playing it again in the future.

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


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Published on Oct 13, 2021