Stones’ ‘Brown Sugar’ Inspiration Hopes They’ll Play It Again
Claudia Lennear, the woman who inspired the Rolling Stones’ controversial song “Brown Sugar,” said she hoped the band would reintroduce it to their live set in the future.
It was notably absent during their No Filter tour dates this year, following discussions on web forums about its subject matter, which includes references to slavery. “I’m trying to figure out with the sisters quite where the beef is,” guitarist Keith Richards said in October. “Didn’t they understand this was a song about the horrors of slavery? But they’re trying to bury it. At the moment, I don’t want to get into conflicts with all of this shit.” He added that he was “hoping that we'll be able to resurrect the babe in her glory somewhere along the track.”
In a new interview with Spin, backing singer Lennear – who was dating frontman Mick Jagger around the time “Brown Sugar” was written – said audiences were “missing out on a great part of rock ’n’ roll history” via its absence. “When do we learn to understand history without getting upset? Right now we’re not really in that space,” she added. “I’m sensitive, but when it comes to poetic license, I let go. It’s just a great riff. It’s a great hook. Keith Richards plays those first two notes, everyone is on their feet, everybody’s clapping, dancing, singing. When I hear it, my first thought is, ‘Long live the Rolling Stones.’”
She only appeared on one Stones song herself, 1973’s “Star Star,” and admitted she didn’t like the lyrics, which explored the relationship between rock musicians and groupies. She explained that she’d delivered her vocals “from a professional standpoint.”
Lennear also discussed the fact that David Bowie wrote his 1973 song “Lady Grinning Soul” about her during a period when the pair were dating. “You know, David will not be outdone by a Rolling Stone,” she commented. “If a Rolling Stone says that they wrote a song about me, he’s not to be left behind. He’s too competitive.”
Listen to David Bowie’s ‘Lady Grinning Soul’