China: Rolling Stones had five songs censored



China / USA:
American rock stars accepted Chinese censorship

Chinese censors restricted the veteran rock star group the Rolling Stones from performing five songs when they made their debut in mainland China on 8 April 2006. Rolling Stones’ lead singer Mick Jagger stated at a press conference in Shanghai that in his opinion this was “not a big deal”.

While taking questions at a press conference in Shanghai, Rolling Stones lead singer Mick Jagger said that Chinese authorities had asked the band to exclude certain songs from their concert – and that it didn’t worry him:
“We kind of expected that. We didn’t expect to come to China and not be censored,” Jagger told a the journalists at the conference. “The Stones have 400 more songs we can play.”It’s not really an issue. But I’m pleased that the ministry of culture is protecting the morals of the expat bankers and their girlfriends,” he added, referring to stories in the Shanghai newspapers saying that most tickets to the concert had been sold to foreigners. With prices between US $40 and $400, tickets cost more than the monthly wage of many Chinese. On top of that, the Stones are relatively unknown among the Chinese.

The five songs that were deemed too risqué for Chinese ears were ‘Brown Sugar’, ‘Honky Tonk Women’, ‘Beast of Burden’, ‘Let’s Spend the Night Together’ and probably also ‘Rough Justice’.

The Rolling Stones concert took place in Shanghai’s 8,000-seat indoor stadium on 8 April 2006. Chinese rock pioneer Cui Jian joined lead singer Mick Jagger for the ballad ‘Wild Horses’. Cui was temporarily banned after performing at Beijing’s Tiananmen Square during the 1989 student protests. Talking to reporters before the show, Cui hailed the concert as a “milestone” for him and all rock music fans in China. Another fan noted that in China, the Rolling Stones were among the first acts whose music was smuggled in.

In 2002, the Rolling Stones’ greatest hits compilation ‘40 Licks’ was censored by Chinese authorities to just 36 licks after the songs ‘Brown Sugar’, ‘Honky Tonk Women’, ‘Beast of Burden’, and ‘Let’s Spend the Night Together’ were pulled from the China release because of suggestive lyrics.


Canada Broadcasting Corporation, CBC – 7 April 2006:
‘China strikes five songs from Stones playlist’

Go to top
Related reading

Dr. Das of Asian Dub Foundation (UK) interviewed by Freemuse/ Jim Q. Holm at RECession Festival Aarhus, Denmark 1st of May 2003