The Rolling Stones’ timeless classic, ‘Brown Sugar,’ is known for its infectious riffs and captivating energy. However, a lesser-known version featuring Eric Clapton on slide guitar could have offered a unique twist to this iconic song. In this article, we delve into the intriguing story behind this rare recording and the circumstances that led to its existence.
The Creation of ‘Brown Sugar’
Recorded in 1969, just months after the tragic loss of Brian Jones, ‘Brown Sugar’ would become one of The Rolling Stones’ most remarkable tracks. Surprisingly, the unforgettable guitar riff, synonymous with the song, didn’t originate from Keith Richards but emerged from the creative mind of lead vocalist Mick Jagger himself. While recuperating from a hand injury during the filming of Ned Kelly in Australia, Jagger crafted the song as an ode to his then-secret girlfriend, Marsha Hunt. Notably, the original lyrics of the song explored themes of rape and slavery, a fact acknowledged by Jagger himself.
The Unreleased Clapton Version
During the recording sessions at Muscle Shoals Sound Studio in Alabama, Mick Jagger expressed his excitement about a new composition to a reporter, referring to it as “Brown Sugar.” The lyrics were still a work in progress, but the song’s controversial subject matter intrigued onlookers. According to accounts from the studio’s then-producer, Jagger swiftly wrote down the lyrics, filling three pages in a remarkable burst of creativity.
Fast forward to Keith Richards’ 27th birthday celebration at Olympic Studios in London, one year later. As a special treat, the band decided to revisit ‘Brown Sugar’ with Al Kooper on piano and Eric Clapton on slide guitar. Richards favored this version, considering it a standout performance. However, when it came time to select tracks for the band’s 1971 album, Sticky Fingers, this alternate rendition didn’t make the final cut.
Unveiling the Rarity
Decades later, The Rolling Stones surprised fans by sharing the long-forgotten Clapton version of ‘Brown Sugar’ alongside a special edition of the Sticky Fingers album. Now, listeners have the opportunity to experience this unique interpretation, bringing together the exceptional talents of Clapton and The Rolling Stones.
The unveiling of Eric Clapton’s slide guitar rendition of ‘Brown Sugar’ offers a fascinating glimpse into the creative process and evolution of one of The Rolling Stones’ greatest hits. While the version featuring Clapton may not have made the official release, it showcases the band’s willingness to experiment and collaborate with other musical legends. This rare recording is a testament to the enduring allure of The Rolling Stones’ music and the untold stories hidden within their discography.
Listen below to the unreleased version of The Rolling Stones’ ‘Brown Sugar’ with Eric Clapton on slide guitar, and immerse yourself in a unique sonic journey that bridges two legendary artists.