"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] It was originally titled "Paint It Black" without a comma. Keith Richards has stated that the comma was added by the record label, Decca.[3]

The song was written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. Mick Jagger wrote the lyrics and Keith Richards wrote the music.[4]

Bill Wyman claims 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 United Kingdom charts in 1966. 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 source | editbeta]Edit

The song acquired its distinctive rhythm when Wyman, looking for a way to "fatten up" the bass sound, began playing with his fists on the pedals of an organ during the recording session.[5] Richards said Wyman was doing a take-off of their first manager who started out as an cinema organist.[4] 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. The piano is played by Jack Nitzsche.[6]

Keith 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 didn't 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".[4]

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 FlashpointLive Licks, and Shine a Light.

Chart performance[edit source | editbeta]Edit

Chart (1966) Peak


Canada RPM Chart 1
Dutch Top 40[7] 1
German Single Charts[8] 2
Irish Singles Chart[9] 2
UK Singles Chart 1
US Billboard Hot 100 1
Chart (1990) Peak


Dutch Top 40[10] 1
UK Singles Chart 61

Personnel[edit source | editbeta]Edit

Eric Burdon & War version[edit source | editbeta]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 LatinpsychedelicR&Bfunk
Length 4:04
Label Liberty
Writer(s) Jagger/Richards
Producer 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 & The Animals covered it in 1967 for their debut album, Winds of Change; they also performed a 12:40 version on German TV in 1970.[11] 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 source | editbeta]Edit

Chart (1971) Peak


Dutch Top 40[12] 31

Other cover versions[edit source | editbeta]Edit

‹ The template below (Inclusion) is being considered for deletion. See templates for discussion to help reach a consensus.›

Single releases[edit source | editbeta]Edit

  • 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.

Album tracks and single B-sides[edit source | editbeta]Edit

Digital releases[edit source | editbeta]Edit

  • Reggae rock band The Dirty Heads released a cover of the song on their web site.
  • Rock duo Everything Else released a cover on Youtube.

Live performances[edit source | editbeta]Edit

Other appearances[edit source | editbeta]Edit

  • "Paint It, Black" plays under the closing credits of the movie Full Metal Jacket.
  • The movie The Devil's Advocate also uses the song during its closing credits.
  • In the movie Stir of Echoes, Kevin Bacon plays a character who is haunted by visions of a teenage girl's murder. During the visions, Bacon's character hears the opening chords of the song, though he is unable to identify it. Gob's cover of the song is on the film's soundtrack album.
  • "Paint It, Black" was used as the opening theme of the CBS television series Tour of Duty.
  • An episode of CSI: Miami, from the series's ninth season, is titled "Paint It Black".
  • The song is used in the opening screen and closing credits of the videogame Twisted Metal: Black. The song is the main theme of the game.
  • It is used in the opening sequence of the videogame Conflict: Vietnam.
  • An achievement in the Xbox 360 game Fruit Ninja Kinect is named "I Want To Paint It Black".
  • The song was used in a commercial for Dior Homme Sport cologne.
  • Cincinnati Reds All-Star first baseman Joey Votto's walkup song is "Paint It, Black".
  • Used by Spencer Watson in his winning AKA Open Individual Indoor Unlimited performance at the 12th Annual Windless Kite Festival, January 18, 19, and 20 2013.
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