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Paint It, Black on Wikipedia
"Paint It Black"
Single by The Rolling Stones
from the album Aftermath (American version)
B-side"Long, Long While"
"Stupid Girl"
Released6 May 1966
13 May 1966
Recorded8 March 1966, RCA Studios, Hollywood, California
  • Raga rock[1]
Length3:45 (mono single mix)
3:22 (stereo album mix)
LabelDecca F.12395
London 45-LON.901 [2]
Producer(s)Andrew Loog Oldham[2]
The Rolling Stones singles chronology

"Paint It Black" (originally released as "Paint It, Black") is a song by the English rock band The Rolling Stones, written by the songwriting partnership of Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, and first released as a single on 6 May 1966. It was later included as the opening track to the US version of their 1966 album, Aftermath.[3]

"Paint It Black" reached number one in both the Billboard Hot 100 and UK Singles Chart. The song became The Rolling Stones' third number one hit single in the US and sixth in the UK.[4][5] Since its initial release, the song has remained influential as the first number one hit featuring a sitar, particularly in the UK where it has charted in two other instances, and has been the subject of multiple cover versions, compilation albums, and film appearances.[6]


  • 1 Background
    • 1.1 Composition
    • 1.2 Recording
    • 1.3 Release
  • 2 Personnel
  • 3 Charts and certifications
    • 3.1 Weekly charts
    • 3.2 Year-end charts
    • 3.3 Certifications
  • 4 Eric Burdon & War version
    • 4.1 Chart performance
  • 5 Other cover versions
  • 6 References
  • 7 External links


The song's lyrics are, for the most part, meant to describe bleakness and depression through the use of colour-based metaphors. Initially, "Paint It Black" was written as a standard pop arrangement, humorously compared by Mick Jagger to "Songs for Jewish weddings".[7] The song sets the scene of a mournful partner at a funeral, similar in terms to a blues or folk number. It is often claimed that Jagger took inspiration from novelist James Joyce's 1922 book, Ulysses, taking the excerpt, "I have to turn my head until my darkness goes", referring to the novel's theme of a worldwide view of desperation and desolation.[6] The song itself came to fruition when lead guitarist Brian Jones took an interest in Moroccan music. It was their first song to feature a sitar instrumental. "Paint It Black" came at a pivotal period in The Rolling Stones' recording history, a time that saw the songwriting collaboration of Jagger and Keith Richards assert itself as the principal composer of the band's original material. This is evident in the Aftermath sessions, where, for the first time, the duo penned the complete track list.[8] In addition, Brian Jones, overshadowed by Jagger and Richards, grew bored with attempting to write songs, as well as conventional guitar melodies.[9] To alleviate the boredom, Jones explored eastern instruments, more specifically the sitar, to bolster the group's musical texture and complexity. Jones had a background with the sitar as early as 1961, and talked at length about the technicalities of playing the instrument. A natural multi-instrumentalist, Jones was able to develop a tune from the sitar in a short amount of time, largely due to his studies under Ravi Shankar's disciple, Harihar Rao.[10] Not long after a discussion with George Harrison, who had recently recorded sitar in "Norwegian Wood", Jones arranged basic melodies with the instrument that, over time, morphed into the one featured in "Paint It Black".[11]


The master take of "Paint It Black" was recorded on 8 March 1966, at RCA Studios in Los Angeles, with record producer Andrew Loog Oldham present throughout the process.[12] Much of the early recorded arrangements, and keys of the track were modeled after The Animals' version of "The House of the Rising Sun", but The Rolling Stones were unsatisfied with the song, and considered scrapping it. However, while twiddling with a Hammond organ, Bill Wyman searched for a heavier bass sound, while playing the part on his knees. Wyman's playing clicked with the group, and inspired the up-tempo and Eastern pentatonic melody. By all accounts, the sitar was brought into the mix when Harihar Rao happened to walk in the studio with the instrument in hand.[7]

The sitar was featured in the opening riff, which is considered as Jones's most accomplished, and as setting the rhythm throughout the song.[13] In his book Brian Jones: The Making of the Rolling Stones, Paul Trynka has noted that the influence of Harrison's sitar playing, and, in particular, The Beatles' song "Norwegian Wood" on the Rubber Soul album, draws parallels in "Paint It Black" - most noticeably in Jones' droning sitar melody.[14] Jones outright denied any connection, saying it was "utter rubbish", when it was considered he was imitating The Beatles. Nonetheless, Jones sitar playing immediately became influential in developing a whole subgenre of minor-key psychedelic music.[10] Coupled with this striking instrumental motif, it is complemented by Jagger's droning, and slight nasal vocalization.[6] In addition, "Paint It Black" was highlighted by Wyman's heavy bass, Charlie Watts's low-pitch drumming, and Richards' bolero-driven acoustic guitar outro. Soon after, Richards noted that the conclusion of the track was over-recorded, and a different guitar could have potentially improved the song.[7][10]


"Paint It Black" was released to the US on 7 May 1966, reaching number one on the Billboard Hot 100 during a stay of 11 weeks. In the UK, the song was released on 13 May 1966, and also became a number one hit on the UK Singles Chart throughout a chart stay of ten weeks.[4][5] It was originally released as "Paint It, Black", the comma being an error by Decca Records, but, nonetheless, stirred controversy among fans over its racial interpretation.[15] Upon further reissues to the UK in 1990 and 2007, "Paint It Black" charted at number 61 and 70, respectively.[5]

"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 featured in the music video games Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock, Guitar Hero Live, and Rocksmith 2014, as well as the video games Twisted Metal: Black and Mafia III.

The song plays during the end credits of the films Full Metal Jacket and The Devil's Advocate. In TV, it was used as the opening theme song to the series Tour of Duty. It was featured in the Call of Duty: Black Ops III teaser trailer, released on April 26, 2015. The Pittsburgh Pirates of Major League Baseball use the song as part of their "Black Out" promotions.[16] The song also appeared arranged for a symphony orchestra in the premiere of HBO's Westworld.[17]


  • Mick Jagger – lead vocals
  • Keith Richards – guitars, backing vocals
  • Brian Jones – sitar
  • Bill Wyman – bass
  • Charlie Watts – drums

Eric Burdon & War version

"Paint It Black"
Single by Eric Burdon & War
from the album The Black Man's Burdon
B-side"Nights in White Satin"
Format7" single
GenreLatin, psychedelic, R&B, funk
Producer(s)Jerry Goldstein
Eric Burdon & War singles chronology

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.[32] 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.

Other cover versions

Single releases
  • In 1966, Marie Laforêt recorded a French cover called "Marie-douceur, Marie-colère".
  • In 1966, Hungarian band, Omega recorded a cover of This song on SP in Hungary.
  • In 1967, Chris Farlowe released a cover version, produced by Mick Jagger, as a single excerpt of the already on his 1966 released album 'The Art of Chris Farlowe' version.
  • 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.
  • Smack (Finnish band) released a cover version in 1986.
Album tracks and single B-sides
  • The Swedish death metal band Deranged covered "Paint It Black" on their album Rated-X.
  • Los Angeles-based rock band The Standells covered "Paint It Black" on their album Dirty Water, released in 1966. This version replaces the line "With flowers and my love, both never to come back", instead repeating "I see a red door and I want it painted black".
  • The alternative metal band Destrophy covered the song for their 2005 Pray EP.
  • The band W.A.S.P. included a cover on the reissue of their debut album.
  • The Feelies released a version on their 1980 Crazy Rhythms album.
  • The melodic death metal band The Black Dahlia Murder covered the song on their EP A Cold-Blooded Epitaph.
  • Glenn Tipton covered it on his album Baptizm of Fire.
  • The metalcore band The Agony Scene included a cover on their self-titled album.
  • In 1969, Czech singer Karel Gott released a German version of the song, titled "Rot und schwarz" (Red and Black), on his album In mir klingt ein Lied (A Song Sounds within Me).
  • Bahamian musician Exuma covered the song on his 1973 album Life.
  • The London Symphony Orchestra released an orchestral cover of the song on its 1977 LP Classic Rock (album).
  • Flamin' Groovies covered this song on their 1978 album Flamin' Groovies Now.
  • Deep Purple covered this song on their 1988 live album Scandinavian Nights (1970 recording).
  • Spanish duo Azúcar Moreno released a cover on the CD version of their 1991 album Mambo.
  • U2 released a cover of the song as a B-side to their 1992 single "Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses".
  • Band of Susans released a cover on their 1992 Now EP.
  • Serbian turbo-folk singer Dragan Kojić Keba covered this song on Serbian language on his 1994 album Sve ću tuge poneti sa sobom, with lyrics "U crno obojeno".
  • British goth rockers Inkubus Sukkubus included the song on their 1997 album Vampyre Erotica.
  • Canadian punk rock band Gob covered the song on their 1998 album How Far Shallow Takes You; this version was featured in the film Stir of Echoes.
  • Mike Batt and The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra released a cover with lead vocals by Marc Almond on their album Philharmania.
  • The Unseen covered the song on their album State of Discontent.
  • The groove metal band Grip Inc. covered it on their album Incorporated.
  • Avant garde band The Residents covered the song on their 2000 album Dot.Com.
  • The Tea Party released a cover in 2000 on the album Tangents: The Tea Party Collection.
  • Ottmar Liebert recorded an instrumental flamenco version in 2001.
  • Singer and songwriter Vanessa Carlton released a cover of the song on her 2002 debut album Be Not Nobody.
  • In 2003, the Tumult record label released an album called Painted Black, entirely consisting of versions of "Paint It Black" by avant-garde artists, including Circle, Acid Mothers Temple, Fennesz, Hrvatski, The Joy Of Disease, Kit Clayton, Stilluppsteypa, Mieskuoro Huutajat, The Tape-beatles, Troum, and Loren Chasse.
  • Sister Sin covered the song on their first album, Dance of the Wicked.
  • Rock band Deadsy released a cover on their 2006 album Phantasmagore.
  • American Idol contestant, Siobhan Magnus, performed a version of the song in the Top 12 week.
  • VersaEmerge covered the song on the compilation album Punk Goes Classic Rock.
  • Punk band Last Laugh released a cover version on their album No Regrets.
  • Ali Campbell covered the song on his 2010 album Great British Songs.
  • Canadian metal band Anvil covered the song on their album Hard 'n' Heavy.
  • American deathrock group Astrovamps included a cover of the song on their album Amerikan Gothick.
  • Industrial metal band Ministry released a cover of the song on their 2010 compilation album Every Day Is Halloween: The Anthology.
  • Marduk covered the song.
  • The band Firewater covered the song on their 2004 album Songs We Should Have Written, which is a compilation of covers. Firewater's version includes a sitar and other ethnic instruments.
  • Japanese-American singer-songwriter Hikaru Utada sampled a line of this song for the song "Amai Wana" off her first Japanese album First Love.
  • The Mighty Lemon Drops released a cover.
  • German heavy metal band Rage covered the song on their 1998 album XIII.
  • The song was covered and translated on Ukrainian by singer-songwriter Yuriy Veres 2012 album 60/70.
  • Finnish comedy rock band Sleepy Sleepers covered the song in Finnish language under name Kaapataan lentokone Moskovaan (Hi-Jacking an Airplane to Moscow) in 1978. They managed to cause an international scandal, and subsequently Sleepy Sleepers were banned from airplay by the Finnish Broadcasting Corporation, YLE, until 1989.
  • The song is covered on Hayseed Dixie's 2007 album Weapons of Grass Destruction.
  • The song was covered by R&B singer, Ciara, for the soundtrack of The Last Witch Hunter, and released in October 2015. This cover version is also used as the current entrance theme for CZW wrestler Lio Rush.
  • The song was covered by DCI World Class drum and bugle corps, Calorina Crown during the field show entitled "Rach Star" in 2011.
  • An orchestral version of the song, arranged by Ramin Djawadi, was used in the first episode of HBO's TV series Westworld in 2016.[17][34]


  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 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. ^ Richie Unterberger. "Aftermath - Review". Retrieved June 1, 2015. 
  4. ^ a b "Rolling Stones - Hot 100". Retrieved June 3, 2015. 
  5. ^ a b c "Official Charts - Rolling Stones". officialcharts.con. Retrieved June 3, 2015. 
  6. ^ a b c Viscounti, Tony (2014). 1,001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die (4th ed.). New York, NY: Universe Publishing. p. 175. ISBN 9780789320896. 
  7. ^ a b c JanovitzIt, Bill (2013). Rocks Off: 50 Tracks That Tell the Story of the Rolling Stones. (1st ed.). New York, New York: St. Martin's Press. pp. 92–95. ISBN 9781250026316. Retrieved June 1, 2015. 
  8. ^ "Aftermath (UK)". Retrieved June 1, 2015. 
  9. ^ Bryan Wawzenek. "Top 10 Brian Jones Rolling Stones Multi-Instrumentalist Songs". Retrieved June 1, 2015. 
  10. ^ a b c Brend, Mark (2005). Strange Sounds: Offbeat Instruments and Sonic Experiments in Pop. (1st ed.). San Francisco, CA: Backbeat Books. pp. 151–152. ISBN 9780879308551. Retrieved June 2, 2015. 
  11. ^ Perone, James E. (2012). The Album. (1st ed.). Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO. p. 92. ISBN 9780313379062. Retrieved June 2, 2015. 
  12. ^ Sullivan, Steve (2013). Encyclopedia of Great Popular Song Recordings, Volume 2. (1st ed.). Plymouth, UK: Scrarecrow Press Inc. ISBN 9780810882966. Retrieved June 2, 2015. 
  13. ^ Michael Gallucci. "Top 10 Sitar Songs". Retrieved June 2, 2015. 
  14. ^ Trynka, Paul (2014). Brian Jones: The Making of the Rolling Stones (1st ed.). New York, New York: Viking Penguin. ISBN 9781101614723. 
  15. ^ Robert Greenfield, The Rolling Stone Interviews, p. 172. St. Martin's Press/Rolling Stone Press, 1981, ISBN 0312689551. 1971. 
  16. ^ "Team Music |". 2016-01-20. Retrieved 2016-09-29. 
  17. ^ a b "Westworld Soundtrack (Season 1)". Lyricsoundtrack. Retrieved October 3, 2016. 
  18. ^ " – The Rolling Stones – Paint It, Black" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40. Retrieved 17 June 2016.
  19. ^ a b " – The Rolling Stones – Paint It, Black" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved 17 June 2016.
  20. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 5762." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 17 June 2016.
  21. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Rolling Stones". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved 17 June 2016.
  22. ^ a b " – The Rolling Stones – Paint It, Black". GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved 17 June 2016.
  23. ^ a b " – The Rolling Stones – Paint It, Black" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved 17 June 2016.
  24. ^ "flavour of new zealand - search listener". Retrieved 2016-09-29. 
  25. ^ " – The Rolling Stones – Paint It, Black". VG-lista. Retrieved 17 June 2016.
  26. ^ a b "Rolling Stones: Artist Chart History" Official Charts Company. Retrieved 17 June 2016.
  27. ^ "The Rolling Stones – Chart history" Billboard Hot 100 for The Rolling Stones. Retrieved 17 June 2016.
  28. ^ " – The Rolling Stones – Paint It, Black" (in French). Les classement single. Retrieved 17 June 2016.
  29. ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1966/Top 100 Songs of 1966". Retrieved 2016-09-29. 
  30. ^ "Italian single certifications – The Rolling Stones – Paint It Black" (in Italian). Federazione Industria Musicale Italiana. Retrieved 21 November 2016.  Select Online in the field Sezione. Enter The Rolling Stones in the field Filtra. Select 2016 in the field Anno. The certification will load automatically
  31. ^ "British single certifications – The Rolling Stones – Paint It Black". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 21 November 2016.  Enter Paint It Black in the field Keywords. Select Title in the field Search by. Select single in the field By Format. Select Gold in the field By Award. Click Search
  32. ^ "Eric Burdon & War: 'Paint It Black'". Dangerous Minds. 28 February 2012. Retrieved 18 August 2012. 
  33. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40, week 20, 1971 (Dutch)". Retrieved 26 April 2009. 
  34. ^ Vineyard, Jennifer (October 5, 2016). "Why You'll Hear Modern Songs Playing on Westworld". Vulture. Retrieved October 26, 2016. 

External links

  • Lyrics of this song at MetroLyrics

Complete Video List

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