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The Rolling Stones - Brown Sugar lyric meanings and song facts

All facts provided by Songfacts

The lyrics are about slaves from Africa who were sold in New Orleans and raped by their white masters. The subject matter is quite serious, but the way the song is structured, it comes off as a fun rocker about a white guy having sex with a black girl. (thanks, Phil - Palo Alto, CA)
Mick Jagger wrote the lyrics. They were inspired by Claudia Lennear, one of Ike Turner's backup singers (Ikettes) who he had an affair with. They met when The Stones toured with Turner in 1969.
According to the book Up And Down With The Rolling Stones by Tony Sanchez, all the slavery and whipping is a double meaning for the perils of being "mastered" by Brown Heroin, or Brown Sugar. (thanks, Kyle - Wichita, KS)
This was recorded one week before The Stones' Altamont concert in 1969 where a fan was stabbed to death by a Hell's Angels security guard. The Altamont show was also the first time they performed this live. They weren't planning to play it until guitarist Mick Taylor suggested it.
The Stones recorded this in Muscle Shoals, Alabama over a 3 day period. They also recorded "Wild Horses" and "You Gotta Move" in those sessions.
Even though this was recorded in December, 1969, The Stones did not release it until April, 1971 because of a legal dispute with their former manager, Allen Klein, over royalties. Recording technology had advanced by then, but they didn't re-record it because the original version was such a powerful take.
Mick Jagger started writing this while he was filming the movie Ned Kelly in the Australian outback. He's been in a few movies, including Performance, Freejack and The Man From Elysian Fields.
A year after this was first recorded, The Stones cut another version at Olympic Studios in London with Eric Clapton on guitar and Al Kooper on keyboards. It was considered for release as the single.
Originally, Jagger wrote this as "Black Pussy." He decided that was a little too direct and changed it to "Brown Sugar."
This was the first song released on Rolling Stones Records, The Stones subsidiary label of Atlantic Records. They used the now-famous tongue for their logo.
The album cover was designed by Andy Warhol. It was a close-up photo of a man wearing tight jeans, and contained a real zipper. This caused considerable problems in shipping, but was the kind of added value that made the album much more desirable. You don't get this kind of stuff with CDs.
This was used in commercials for Kahlua and Pepsi. The Stones have made big bucks licensing their songs for ads. (thanks, whitney - Houston, TX)
Bob Dylan often performed this on his 2002 US tour. It is not the type of song he usually covered.
This was one of 4 songs The Stones had to agree not to play when they were allowed to perform in China. After getting approval to play in China for the first time in 2003, they canceled because of SARS, a respiratory illness that was going around the country.
This has been covered by Mos Def and ZZ Top. (thanks, Brett - Edmonton, Canada)

In 327BC Alexander the Great came across the cultivation of sugar cane in India. From this reed, a dark brown sugar was extracted from the cane by chewing and sucking. Some of this "sweet reed" was sent back to Athens. This was the first time a European had come across sugar. (From the book Food for Thought: Extraordinary Little Chronicles of the World by Ed Pearce)

All facts provided by Songfacts


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