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"Sweet Black Angel"
Single by The Rolling Stones
from the album Exile on Main St.
A-side "Tumbling Dice"
Released 14 April 1972 (1972-04-14)
Format 7-inch single
Recorded October 1970, December 1971 – March 1972
Genre Rock
Length 2:58
Label Rolling Stones Records
Songwriter(s) Jagger/Richards
Producer(s) Jimmy Miller
The Rolling Stones singles chronology
"Wild Horses"
"Sweet Black Angel"

Sweet Black Angel” (sometimes known as “Black Angel”) is a song by the Rolling Stones, included on their 1972 album Exile on Main St. It was also released on a single as the B-side to "Tumbling Dice" prior to the album.


Written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, “Sweet Black Angel” is one of the few outright political songs written by the Rolling Stones. A country-blues ballad, it is about civil rights activist Angela Davis, who was facing murder charges at the time.[1] Steve Kurutz writes in his review:

Having never heard of Angela Davis, a listener could easily overlook the political lyrics and get lost in the circular acoustic plucking or the washboard rhythm that propels the song so well. Yet, by knowing the case history one realizes how deft and clever Mick's lyrics could be, even if he hides behind his best backwoods diction and garbled annunciation [sic] obscure[s] the point.

Davis is not mentioned by name in the lyrics:

Well de gal in danger, de gal in chains, but she keep on pushin', would you do the same?
She countin' up de minutes, she countin' up de days.
She's a sweet black angel, not a gun toting teacher, not a Red lovin' school marm;
Ain't someone gonna free her, free de sweet black slave, free de sweet black slave


Initial recording took place at Mick Jagger’s “Stargroves” home in England during the mid 1970 Sticky Fingers sessions with overdubs and final mixing being completed later at Sunset Sound Studios in Los Angeles between December 1971 and March 1972. Jagger is on lead vocals and harmonica, Richards and Mick Taylor on guitars and backing vocals, Bill Wyman on bass and Charlie Watts on drums. Richard “Didymus” Washington plays marimba while producer Jimmy Miller lends support on percussion.[2]

Live performances[edit]

“Sweet Black Angel” was performed live by the Stones only once, in Fort Worth on 24 June 1972.[3]


  1. ^ Kurutz, Steve. "Sweet Black Angel". allmusic. Retrieved 2006-10-23. 
  2. ^ “Sweet Black Angel”. Keno's Rolling Stones Lyrics. 2007 (accessed 21 September 2007).
  3. ^ Live debuts of each Rolling Stones song

External links[edit]


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