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The story behind The Rolling Stones’ Angela Davis song (Read 461 times)
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The story behind The Rolling Stones’ Angela Davis song
Feb 13th, 2019 at 4:03pm
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The story behind The Rolling Stones’ Angela Davis song
Updated 10:11 AM; Posted Feb 12, 9:12 PM
By Matt Wake | mwake@al.com

“We had never met her, but we admired her from afar,” Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards said of Angela Davis, talking to Harper’s Bazaar writer Brooke Mazurek in 2017.

Richards and Stones singer Mick Jagger wrote the band's 1972 song "Sweet Black Angel" about Davis, the Birmingham native and controversial civil rights activist.

It's a standout track on one of rock's greatest albums, The Stones' 1972 double-LP "Exile on Main St."

A mix of blues, folk and world-music, “Sweet Black Angel” is a rare snuggly tune on the otherwise piratically plastered “Exile.”

“This one started as an island-lilt sort of thing when we were in Jamaica," Richards told Harper’s. “After a while the words ‘Sweet Black Angel’ crept into it, and I realized Mick was writing about Angela Davis, the famous activist who was under arrest at the time.”



In 1970, Davis, a former UCLA philosophy instructor previously terminated (under orders from California’s then-governor Ronald Reagan) for being communist, now faced murder, kidnapping and criminal conspiracy charges. Guns she’d purchased were used in a deadly failed courtroom attempt to free three inmates known as the Soledad Brothers, accused of murdering a prison guard. Her spectacularly Afroed visage graced the FBI’s most-wanted list. Davis went on the lam. After about two months, she was apprehended in a $30-per-day, seventh floor Howard Johnson Motor Lodge room in midtown Manhattan. U.S. President Richard Nixon called Davis a “dangerous terrorist.” But she hadn’t been there at that attempt to spring the Soledad Brothers, and witnesses later testified Davis purchased the firearms in question for guarding the inmates’ defense headquarters, according to New York Times reporter Jennifer Schuessler. After being held in prison 16 months, Davis was finally granted bail. She stood trial in Santa Clara County, Calif., where an all-white jury acquitted her of all charges.
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Re: The story behind The Rolling Stones’ Angela Davis song
Reply #1 - Feb 13th, 2019 at 4:04pm
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Re: The story behind The Rolling Stones’ Angela Davis song
Reply #2 - Feb 13th, 2019 at 4:49pm
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Davis was acquitted on 4th June 1972. The Stones were playing Seattle that day and Jagger commented on it from the stage, describing it as 'fucking great'.

they passed on the opportunity to perform it though, although they did so on one occasion 20 days later in Fort Worth (one of the shows filmed for 'ladies and gentlemen' and recorded for a still-unreleased live album).


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Re: The story behind The Rolling Stones’ Angela Davis song
Reply #3 - Feb 15th, 2019 at 12:21pm
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Again....was has always bothered me about Exile was the vocals mix. Imagine if the average listener could actually understand the words clearly. Exile would be ranked significantly higher in all time lists. IMHO.
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Re: The story behind The Rolling Stones’ Angela Davis song
Reply #4 - Feb 15th, 2019 at 7:03pm
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That live recording is terrible. I lasted 30 seconds!
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Re: The story behind The Rolling Stones’ Angela Davis song
Reply #5 - Feb 15th, 2019 at 8:53pm
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gimmekeef wrote on Feb 15th, 2019 at 12:21pm:
Again....was has always bothered me about Exile was the vocals mix. Imagine if the average listener could actually understand the words clearly. Exile would be ranked significantly higher in all time lists. IMHO.


Bitch, bitch, bitch.  In the Vietnam/Civil Rights era, I always preferred hearing my version:

She counting up ya meanness,
She counting up ya dead


To the more probable and more prosaic,

She counting up the minutes,
She counting up the days


They were never quite that literary, though they were more literary than ten men.  A path they've lost over the decades.
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« Last Edit: Feb 15th, 2019 at 9:10pm by andrews27 »  

That guy that punched Mick at Altamont...and all the Hell's Angels...all that bad acid let them hear A Bigger Bang!!
 
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Re: The story behind The Rolling Stones’ Angela Davis song
Reply #6 - Mar 3rd, 2019 at 7:18am
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SWEET  BLACK ANGEL
Free de sweet black slave.   

This falls under the category of: you learn something new every day! Never knew who this was about, but now I can see it!
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Re: The story behind The Rolling Stones’ Angela Davis song
Reply #7 - Mar 30th, 2019 at 11:36pm
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gimmekeef wrote on Feb 15th, 2019 at 12:21pm:
Again....was has always bothered me about Exile was the vocals mix. Imagine if the average listener could actually understand the words clearly. Exile would be ranked significantly higher in all time lists. IMHO.


My favorite record of all time. Doesn't need any elevating in my book.
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