Paint It Black

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For other uses, see Paint It Black (disambiguation).
"Paint It Black"
Single by The Rolling Stones
from the album Aftermath (American version)
B-side "Long Long While" (UK)
"Stupid Girl" (US)
Released 7 May 1966 (US)
13 May 1966 (UK)
Format 7"
Recorded 6–9 March 1966, RCA Studios, Hollywood, California
Genre Psychedelic rock, raga rock[1]
Length 3:45 (mono single mix)
3:22 (stereo album mix)

Decca F.12395 (UK)[2]

London 45-LON.901 (US)
Writer(s) Jagger/Richards[2]
Producer(s) Andrew Loog Oldham[2]
The Rolling Stones singles chronology
"19th Nervous Breakdown"
"Paint It Black"
"Mother's Little Helper/Lady Jane"
US cover
Music sample

"Paint It Black" is a song released by The Rolling Stones on 13 May 1966 as the first single from the US version of their fourth album Aftermath.[3] Although originally titled without a comma, the release version was styled "Paint It, Black". Keith Richards has stated that the comma was added by the record label, Decca,[3] and that the comma stirred confusion and potential controversy with some listeners: "There were some weird letters, racial letters. 'Was there a comma in the title? Was it an order to the world?'" [4]

The song was written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards.[2] Jagger wrote the lyrics and Richards wrote the music.[5] Bill Wyman states in his books that the song was a group effort although it was credited to Jagger/Richards.[citation needed]

The single reached number one in both the United States and the UK Singles Chart in 1966.[6] In 2004 it was ranked number 176 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. In the US and UK, it was the first number one single to feature a sitar.

History and composition[edit]

The song acquired its distinctive rhythm when Wyman, looking for a way to "fatten up" the bass drum sound, began playing with his fists on the pedals of an organ during the recording session.[7] Richards said Wyman was doing a take-off of their first manager who started out as a cinema organist.[5] Brian Jones played the song's signature sitar riff, and Jagger contributed to the lyrics, which he has said are about a girl's funeral.[citation needed] Both electric and acoustic guitars and the background vocals are provided by Richards. A piano part was played by Jack Nitzsche but it's inaudible in the final mix.[8]

Richards has also been quoted as saying "we cut it as a comedy track". He said they started out playing it in a kind of "funky rhythm" which did not work. They then played around with it to how it appears on the record. He says that "Brian playing the sitar makes the whole thing".[5]

The bass was also overdubbed by Bill Wyman playing on the bass pedals of a Hammond B3 organ.

"Paint It Black" has appeared on numerous Stones compilations, including Hot Rocks 1964-1971 (1971), 30 Greatest Hits (1977), Singles Collection: The London Years (1989), Forty Licks (2002), and GRRR! (2012). Live recordings are featured on the concert albums Flashpoint (1991), Live Licks (2004), Shine a Light (2008), and Sweet Summer Sun: Hyde Park Live (2013). The song was also featured in the music video games Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock and Rocksmith 2014, as well as the 2001 video game Twisted Metal: Black. The song plays over the end credits of the film Full Metal Jacket and during the end credits of the film The Devil's Advocate, and was used as the opening theme song to the television series Tour of Duty. This song was also featured on the Call of Duty: Black Ops III teaser trailer, which was released on April 26, 2015.

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1966) Peak
Austrian Singles Chart 2
Canada RPM Chart 1
Finnish Singles Chart 2
German Single Charts[9] 2
Irish Singles Chart[10] 2
Dutch Top 40[11] 1
UK Singles Chart[6] 1
US Billboard Hot 100 1
Chart (1990) Peak
Dutch Top 40[12] 1
UK Singles Chart 61


[13] [14] [15]

Eric Burdon & War version[edit]

"Paint It Black"
Single by Eric Burdon & War
from the album The Black Man's Burdon
B-side "Nights in White Satin"
Released 1971
Format 7" single
Recorded 1970
Genre Latin, psychedelic, R&B, funk
Length 4:04
Label Liberty
Writer(s) Jagger/Richards
Producer(s) Jerry Goldstein
Eric Burdon & War singles chronology
"Tobacco Road"
"Paint It Black"
"They Can't Take Away Our Music"

Before Eric Burdon & War's 1970 version reached the charts in Netherlands, Eric Burdon covered it on the 1967 Eric Burdon & The Animals debut album, Winds of Change. They also performed a 12:40 version on German TV in 1970.[16] The original album version of Eric Burdon & War had a length of 13:41.

Eric Burdon & The Animals performed it at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967. This version was cut and included in the motion picture of the festival. They performed it also on the BBC.

Eric Burdon performed it also on his "Hippiefest" tour in 2008.

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1971) Peak
Dutch Top 40[17] 31

Other cover versions[edit]

Single releases
  • In 1966, Marie Laforêt did a French cover called "Marie-douceur, Marie-colère".
  • In 1968, Chris Farlowe released a cover version, produced by Mick Jagger, as a single.
  • The Mo-dettes released a version on the Deram label in 1980. It reached Number 42 on the UK singles chart.
  • Punk band the Avengers released a cover of the song in 1983, first as the A-side of a single, then on their self-titled album.
  • Indie bubblegum girl band Supercute! covered the song, and filmed a music video for it in 2011.
  • Caterina Caselli had some success with an Italian version of "Paint It Black", titled "Tutto nero", in 1966.
  • In 2015, Brittany Marie released a country rock cover version.
Album tracks and single B-sides


  1. ^ "Paint It, Black" a glorious Indian raga-rock riot that will send the Stones back to #1", Nicholas Schaffner, The British invasion: from the first wave to the new wave, (McGraw-Hill, 1982) ISBN 0-07-055089-1
  2. ^ a b c d Rice, Jo (1982). The Guinness Book of 500 Number One Hits (1st ed.). Enfield, Middlesex: Guinness Superlatives Ltd. p. 101. ISBN 0-85112-250-7. 
  3. ^ a b Mark Paytress, The Rolling Stones: off the record, pp 108-109. Omnibus Press, 2003, ISBN 0711988692. Retrieved March 17, 2010. 
  4. ^ Robert Greenfield, The Rolling Stone Interviews, p. 172. St. Martin's Press/Rolling Stone Press, 1981, ISBN 0312689551. 1971. 
  5. ^ a b c Keith Richards – In His Own Words by Mick St Michael, Omnibus Press, 1994, page 26. ISBN 0-7119-3634-X
  6. ^ a b Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 191. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  7. ^ "Track Talk: Paint It Black", Time Is On Our Side (Ian McPherson), retrieved 17 April 2012 
  8. ^ Thomas Forget, The Rolling Stones, pp 53-54. The Rosen Publishing Group, 2003, ISBN 0-8239-3644-9. Retrieved 14 May 2010. 
  9. ^ "". Retrieved 8 June 2013. 
  10. ^ "". Retrieved November 16, 2008. 
  11. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40, week 24, 1966 (Dutch)". Retrieved 26 April 2009. 
  12. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40, week 21, 1990 (Dutch)". Retrieved 26 April 2009. 
  13. ^ "Official website". The Rolling Stones. Retrieved 2014-04-06. 
  14. ^ Stone Alone - Bill Wyman
  15. ^ Rolling With The Stones - Bill Wyman
  16. ^ "Eric Burdon & War: ‘Paint It Black’". Dangerous Minds. 28 February 2012. Retrieved 18 August 2012. 
  17. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40, week 20, 1971 (Dutch)". Retrieved 26 April 2009. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
"Pretty Flamingo" by Manfred Mann
UK number-one single
26 May 1966
Succeeded by
"Strangers in the Night" by Frank Sinatra
Preceded by
"When a Man Loves a Woman" by Percy Sledge
Billboard Hot 100 number-one single
June 11, 1966 (2 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Paperback Writer" by The Beatles
Preceded by
"Good Lovin'" by The Young Rascals
RPM Top 100 number-one single
June 13, 1966
Succeeded by
"Green Grass" by Gary Lewis
Preceded by
"Sloop John B" by The Beach Boys
Dutch Top 40 number-one single
May 28, 1966 (1966-05-28)
Succeeded by
"Paperback Writer" by The Beatles
Preceded by
"Kingston Town" by UB40
Dutch Top 40 number one single
May 12, 1990 (1990-05-12)
Succeeded by
"What's a Woman?" by Vaya Con Dios