"Paint It, Black" is a song released by The Rolling Stones as a single in 1966. It also appeared as the opening track of the US version of their 1966 album Aftermath.

It was written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, though Brian Jones contributed to the song's signature riff. Bill Wyman claims in his books that the song was a collective effort of the group, a Nanker Phelge one, but mistakenly credited to Jagger/Richards at the end (See below: 'History and composition').

The single reached number one in both the U.S. and the U.K. charts in 1966. In 2004 it was ranked #174 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time|500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

The song title is often given as "Paint It Black", this variant having appeared on some reissues and compilations. Richards has said that the song was not intended to have a comma in its title, and that this was added by the record label.

History and compositionEdit

The song began with Wyman playing organ at a recording session, in parody of the group's former co-manager Eric Easton, who had been an organist. Charlie Watts accompanied the organ by playing a vaguely Middle Eastern drum part; Watts' drum pattern became the basis for the final song. Brian Jones contributed the song's signature sitar riff (having taught himself to play after a visit with George Harrison) and acoustic guitar, and Jagger contributed the lyrics, seemingly about a man mourning his dead girlfriend. The lead electric guitar and the background vocals are provided by Richards. The piano is played by Jack Nitzsche.

The bass was also overdubbed by Bill Wyman playing on the bass pedals of a Hammond B3 organ.


  • Mick Jagger – lead vocals
  • Brian Jones – sitar, acoustic guitar
  • Keith Richards – electric guitar, backing vocal
  • Bill Wyman – bass, Hammond B3
  • Charlie Watts – drums
  • Jack Nitzsche – piano

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