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Rolling Stones drop ‘Brown Sugar’ from tour playlist as times change

Brian Niemietz
New York Daily News

Maybe call it the “Some Filter” tour.

The Rolling Stones have not played their controversial 1971 mega-hit “Brown Sugar” on their current “No Filter” tour and fans may not hear it live again.

Guitarist Keith Richards somewhat addressed the omission, indicating there was a reason behind its absence on the tour that’s next set to hit Los Angeles Thursday night.

“You picked up on that, huh?” Richards said during a Los Angeles Times interview to a reporter who noticed the song wasn’t on the British band’s playlist these days.

Ronnie Wood, from left, Keith Richards, Mick Jagger and Steve Jordan of the Rolling Stones perform during the "No Filter" tour at The Dome at America's Center, Sept. 26, 2021 in St. Louis.

“Brown Sugar” starts aboard a slave ship headed to New Orleans to provide workers for the cotton fields. There are sexual implications in lyrics about a subject who looks, and tastes, “so good” – “Just like a Black girl should.”

Richards said he’s not completely sure why the tune is suddenly a problem, but he does appreciate sensibilities have changed in the half-century since “Brown Sugar” was released.

“Didn’t they understand this was a song about the horrors of slavery? But they’re trying to bury it,” he said. “At the moment I don’t want to get into conflicts with all of this s–.”

It’s Richards’ hope that this isn’t the end for the “Sticky Fingers” single, but with the band members in their late 70s now and having recently lost drummer Charlie Watts at 80, time is no longer on the Stones’ side.

“I’m hoping that we’ll be able to resurrect the babe in her glory somewhere along the track,” Richard told the Times.

Singer Mick Jagger agreed “Brown Sugar” is out of the mix for now, but it hasn’t been retired.

“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,” according to Jagger. “We might put it back in.”

The Stones’ “No Filter” tour kicked-off in 2017, but was interrupted by the pandemic. It resumed in September,  and they'll play Detroit's Ford Field on Nov. 15.