100 Greatest Rolling Stones Songs

8

"Brown Sugar" (1971)

The Rolling Stones
Chris Walter/WireImage

It takes a unique kind of confidence for a bunch of Englishmen to walk into Muscle Shoals Sound Studios in Sheffield, Alabama, in the winter of 1969 and record a song about slavery, interracial sex and cunnilingus, with a title known as slang for a type of heroin. Originally called "Black Pussy" until Jagger thought better of it, the song was pulled together in just a couple of takes – "It should sound fucking dirty," the singer famously instructed the rest of the band. And dirty it was, thanks to Jagger's juicy lyrics, Richards' signature open-chord attack (cooked up with help from blues prodigy Ry Cooder) and – in the longtime sideman's defining moment – the raunchy sax of Bobby Keys. The band debuted it live at Altamont just a few days after it was recorded, and it went on to become the nastiest hit in the classic-rock canon. Around the same time, Jagger became the proud father of a daughter with African-American singer-actress Marsha Hunt.

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