Music

Patti Smith’s “Rock n Roll N****r” Disappears From Streaming Services

Patti Smith’s “Rock n Roll N****r” Disappears From Streaming Services

Smith, who has not commented, for decades defended her clumsy attempt to reclaim the racist slur

Patti Smith in 1978 in a hat

Patti Smith, June 1978 (Tom Hill/WireImage)

Patti Smith Group’s song “Rock n Roll N****r,” which has drawn condemnation since its release on Easter in 1978, has disappeared from streaming services, Rolling Stone reports. Smith has made no comment on the removal, and it is unclear who made the decision. For decades, she defended the use of the slur, saying she wanted to reclaim the term for artists and people on the margins of society.

In a Rolling Stone interview promoting Easter upon its release, Smith used the N-word to describe Mick Jagger in a similar spirit. When the interviewer pointed out that Jagger had not “suffered like anyone who grew up in Harlem,” she skirted around the question. In 1996, she acknowledged that “redefining” the “archaic slang term as a badge for those contributing on the fringe of society was not favorably embraced.” The song remained a fixture of her setlists, and its most recent performance was in 2019.

Covers of the song, including one by Marilyn Manson, remain on streaming services, RS notes. The original remains available to download with purchases of the full Easter album. Pitchfork has emailed representatives for Smith and Arista, which released Easter, for comment.

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