50 years ago today (July 4) The Beatles unintentionally snubbed The Philippines’ First Lady and were spectacularly run out of town. They’re not the only band to have ended up on the wrong side of the locals – here’s 22 musicians who’ve been denied access to countries across the globe…
Snoop – UK, Australia: Snoop was banned from entering the UK due to an incident in Heathrow airport in 2006 but since 2010 he’s allowed to visit. Authorities in Norway also banned him from visiting for two years in 2012 because of past convictions, and he’s banned from going to Australia for the foreseeable future for the same reason. Oh Snoop.
Lilly Allen – USA: The ‘Alright, Still’ star was banned from entering the US in 2007 after being arrested for lamping a photographer. The ban didn’t last that long, though: Allen supported Miley Cyrus on seven shows of her ‘Bangerz’ tour in the US last year, managing to avoid giving any snappers a smack to the chops this time around.
The Beatles – Phillipines: While not officially banned from The Phillipines, some might say what happened to the Fab Four was actually worse.
Unintentionally snubbing the country’s First Lady (not a good idea) led to crazed locals literally running the band out of town. They were even forced to pay back their concert fees, and were never invited back to the country again.
Bob Dylan – China: Ol’ Bobby The Bard was forced to cancel two shows back in 2010 when Chinese authorities refused him access to Beijing and Shanghai. They were concerned about his links to counter culture, evident from protest songs like ‘The Times They Are a-Changin’ and ‘Blowin’ In The Wind’.
Dylan was allowed back in 2011, but only with a pre-approved setlist.
Erykah Badu – Malaysia: The neo-soul starlet was banned from Malaysia in 2010 after a promotional picture showed her with the Arabic word for ‘Allah’ painted across her shoulders. The body-art was “an insult to Islam” according to the country’s information minister, but Badu said she’d been “misunderstood”.
Amy Winehouse – USA: In 2007, Amy Winehouse was arrested in Norway for possession of cannabis. She was held overnight by police and paid a small fine, but it was enough to see her refused entry to the US and miss the 2008 Grammys, where she won five awards. Never a quiet moment with our Amy.
Madonna – Egypt: Madonna was banned from visiting Egypt in 2004 for visiting Israel (relations between the two nations have been strained, to say the least, since modern Israel’s formation in 1948). Since then, however, her manager Guy Oseary told The Hollywood Reporter: “We would love to play Lebanon, Egypt and Syria at some point … Obviously, it’s just not possible.”
Elton John – Egypt: Also previously on the wrong side of Cairo authorities is Elton, who, in 2010, referred to Jesus as a “super-intelligent gay man” in a magazine interview. This did not go down well with the rather religious Egypt’s Musician’s Union, who cancelled a schedule concert there and banned John from performing in the country.
Oasis – China: Oasis were “bewildered” when the licence to stage gigs in Shanghai and Beijing was revoked in 2009, due to the band’s links to the Free Tibet movement (Noel appeared in a gig for the movement with U2 and Coldplay in 1997). An official later said it was nothing to do with Tibet, and that the gigs were cancelled due to a “tough economic situation”.
Akon – Sri Lanka: The ‘Locked Up’ singer was refused entry into Sri Lanka back in 2010 after one of his songs started riots in the capital.
The music video for ‘Sexy Chick’ featured a statue of Buddha, which didn’t go down too well with some of the country’s ultra-religious citizens. “I am a spiritual man, so I can understand why they are offended,” said Akon. Bit late now…
Justin Bieber – Argentina: Bad news, Argie Beliebers. There’s a warrant for the arrest of Bieber and his bodyguards over the alleged assault of a photographer in Buenos Aires in 2013, meaning the pop bad boy faces being thrown straight to the clink the minute he lands in the country, should he ever return.
Chris Brown – Australia: “If you are going to commit domestic violence and you want to travel around the world there are going to be countries that say to you: ‘You cannot come” said Australia’s minister for women in September. That means you, Chris Brown: the singer was convicted of assaulting Rihanna in 2009 and despite a strong following down under, was denied a visa to tour there.
Jay Z – China: The rapper and streaming entrepreneur was banned from performing in China in 2006 because his music contains “too many profane lyrics”. The Ministry of Culture said in a statement that he had “decided to protect the city’s hip-hop fans from nasty lyrics about pimps, guns and drugs.”
Miley Cyrus – China: Miley’s been causing a stir as far back as 2006, when she was reportedly banned from China for pulling a racially offensive pose in a photograph with friends. Last year, she was banned from appearing in the Dominican Republic because her shows sees her “undertake acts that go against morals and customs, which are punishable by Dominican law.”
Lady Gaga – Indonesia: Lady Gaga was banned from performing in Indonesia by authorities in 2012 who believed her “sexy clothes” and dance moves would corrupt the nation’s youth. Hardline protesters from Islamic Defenders Front were threatening to stop her getting off the plane when she landed.
Beyonce – Malaysia: Fearing her raunchy show would contravene strict decency laws, organisers of Beyonce’s 2009 gig in Malaysia told her she would have to cover up from head to toe, change her lyrics and choreography. Beyonce understandably decided to cancel the show instead. Good on ya, Bey.
Bjork – China: For similar reasons to Oasis, Bjork was banned from performing in China for campaigning for Free Tibet. Her song ‘Declare Independence’ particularly upset the authorities there. She also performed the song in Tokyo and dedicated it to Kosovo’s declaration of independence in 2008, which may have led to the cancellation of her performance at Serbian festival EXIT that year.
Yusuf Islam – USA: Get this. The artist formerly known as Cat Stevens’ name ended up on USA a watch list after 9/11, and was banned from entering the country between 2004 and 2006. All, apparently, because he had a Muslim name. “Everybody knows who I am. I am no secret figure,” he said after the time. “I am campaigning for peace.”
Boy George – USA: The former Culture Club singer was banned from entering the US while awaiting trial in the UK for imprisoning a male escort in 2007. He had been banned before, too, for falsely reporting a burglary in 2006. He was awarded five days of community service, which he carried out sweeping the streets of New York.
Rolling Stones – Japan: The Stones were barred from Japan in 1973 due to Mick Jagger’s two drugs convictions in 1967 and 1970. They were previously banned from appearing in Cleveland when a fan fell from a balcony and died at one of their gigs in the city, but the ban was lifted two years later. Moral of the story: you can’t stay mad at Mick and co for long. Not even border control.
Lamb Of God – Malaysia: Malaysia barred the American metallers Lamb of God after Islamic officials said the group’s work was “blasphemous”. Maybe it was songs called ‘South Of Heaven’, ‘The Anti-Christ’, ‘Walk With Me In Hell’ and ‘A Devil In God’s Country’ that did it?
Bloodhound Gang – Russia: ’00s rock sophisticates Bloodhound Gang managed to piss off the Kremlin after a gig in 2013, during which bassist Jared Hasselhoff appeared to wipe his bum on a Russian flag. “Don’t tell Putin,” he asked the crowd, but it looks as if someone did – the band were consequently banned from performing in Russia.