The song was primarily the work of Jagger with girlfriend Marsha Hunt in mind
In 1971 the Rolling Stones officially begin a turning point in their career with the release of “Brown Sugar” on their own label
“Brown Sugar” it’s one the most instantly recognized Rock songs of all time. With it’s distinguishable intro riff, takes to any Rock fan less than two seconds to identify it. The song marked a turning point on the Rolling Stones career. After a successful 1960’s decade where they established themselves as one of the most influential and biggest Rock bands in the planet, the brand new 1970’s seemed to be a new challenge to the Stones, and now without The Beatles, Jagger, Richards and the rest of the gang had the opportunity to indeed be the biggest Rock N’Roll band in the world. The late 1960’s Stones career were marked by tragedy, when in 1969 founder and guitarist Brian Jones was found dead at age 27, and later that year, when they organized the infamous Altamont festival in California, where a 18 year old was stabbed to death in front of the stage while the Stones played “Under My Thumb”. 1970 was a transition year, with new guitarist Mick Taylor, who debuted in the band earlier in 1969, the Stones spent most of the time writing new songs for an upcoming album. Also happening was the end of their contract with Decca records and, just like The Beatles did before them, founding their own label, Rolling Stones Records. “Brown Sugar” was one of the first songs to be recorded for “Sticky Fingers”, their seminal 1971 album. The song was recorded in 1969 over a three-day period in the now famous Muscle Shoals Sound Studios, in Sheffield, Alabama, while doing their U.S tour. However, they didn’t released it immediately due to legal wranglings with the band’s former label Decca and former manager Allen Klein. It was however debuted live at the infamous Altamont festival and it’s featured in the 1970 “Gimme Shelter” documentary by the Maysles Brothers. Credited, like most of their compositions, to Jagger and Richards, the song was primarily the work of Jagger with Marsha Hunt in mind, then, Hunt was Jagger’s secret girlfriend and became the mother of his first child Karis. About the subject of the song Jagger says, “The lyric was all to do with the dual combination of drugs and girls. This song was a very instant thing, a definite high point.” “Brown Sugar” was first released as a single on April 16, 1971, the first Stones record ever to be released on their own label, that also introduced the infamous licking- tongue and lips logo. It was backed with “Bitch” in the U.S and Canada, and with “Bitch” and “Let It Rock”, a Chuck Berry cover recorded live at the University of Leeds during the 1971 Rolling Stones U.K tour. This was also the song that replaced “Sister Morphine” on the Spanish released of “Sticky Fingers”. To promote the song, they performed on Top of the Pops with the performance taped sometime around late March 1971 along with other two songs from “Sticky Fingers, “Wild Horses” and “Bitch”, however, due to BBC practices at the time, the performances, all except “Brown Sugar” were wiped. Along with “Wild Horses”, “Brown Sugar” is one of the two songs licensed to both the band and former manager Allen Klein, as a result of various business disagreements, which resulted in its inclusion on the compilation album “Hot Rocks 1964–1971” that features mostly Decca material and later on the 1975 Decca compilation “Rolled Gold”. The Stones classic became a number one hit in both the United States and Canada and a number two hit in both the United Kingdom and Ireland, and has since become a classic rock radio staple.
Look back at the Rolling Stones performing “Brown Sugar” in 1971 for the British show Top Of The Pops
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