On This Day – No Filth Here!

On this day in 1976 The Pistols were banned from Playing at Lancaster Poly in the UK.  A Lancaster council statement said “We don’t want that sort of filth (The Sex Pistols) in the town limits.”

Two things occur to me, firstly, this was before the infamous Grundy interview in 1st December of the same year.  So McLaren’s strategy of portraying the Pistols as every middle aged Conservative’s worst dream was workking.  (mind you the thowing of chairs, destruction and general mayhem incited by the band at concerts obviously helped).

The second thing is that the surprising thing is that this sort of attitude was still arround.  Rock has always had run ins with authority (that is part of its appeal, after all) but in 1976?  Also, (that’s three things that occur to me….) it is a very unimportant episode in the scale of things.  Consider other banned music and events;

In 1954 Michigan congresswoman Ruth Thompson introduced abill in the house that would ban the making of ‘pornographic’ records. For pornographic substitute Rock and Roll.

1n 1956 ABC radio banned “love for Sale” by Billie Holiday, because it was suggestive.  There were also problems when she recorded Strange Fruit which was about thwe lynching of a black man by the Clan.

1957 American TV execs decide that Elvis could only be filmed from the waist up…..

1958 St Louis radio station KWK banned all rock and roll from its playlist because it was undesireable.  Records were smashed on air the station president said‘I decided on this action,’ said Convey, ‘after conferring with our disk jockeys and finding their complete agreement that rock ‘n’ roll has dominated the popular music field long enough.’ The public apparently agreed with Convey and the jockeys as reactions which poured into the station during the week ran about 5 to one in favor of the ban. What started out three years ago as a musical novelty trend with tunes such as ‘Rock around the Clock’ and ‘Hearts of Stone’ has grown to such proportions as to alienate many adult radio listeners.” (Rock was back on KWK in the early 60s………….

1959 (My personal favourite) “Rumble” by Link Wray was banned by several US radio stations as they feared it would promote violence, even though it is an instrumental.

And so it goes on.  There is a Zappa album that was issued with the “explicit Lyrics” sticker, even though it is completely instrumental (could have been Jazz From Hell, but I am not sure).

Rock has always been subject to strange and stupid bans and prohibitions.  This incident was nothing unusual, and was actively aimed for by the band and its management.


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