The songs they tried to ban


Body Count, ‘Cop Killer’ (1992). A brutal track about revenge on an abusive
policeman, ‘Cop Killer’ caused outrage amongst the media and
politicians, including George Bush Sr. It was argued that lyrics such
as “Cop killer, fuck police brutality” helped spark riots in LA, which
pushed law officials to campaign for Warner Bros to withdraw the album.

Music – Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine

Carter USM, ‘Bloodsport for All’ (1991). This track, about racism and bullying
in the British army, was another song that fell foul of BBC censorship following
the outbreak of the Gulf War. The Beeb were concerned about offending the
military by airing anti-establishment lyrics such as, “Lay down, play dead for
Di and Fergie”. Pic: PA Photos


Crass, ‘Penis Envy’ (1980). Many large UK record stores refused to stock the
British political punk act’s music after one store in Cheadle was prosecuted
under the Obscene Publications Act for selling Crass albums. The ‘News Of The
World’ deemed ‘Penis Envy’ “too obscene to print”. The original album now sells
for high prices to collectors.


Frankie Goes to Hollywood

Frankie Goes To Hollywood, ‘Relax’ (1983). The BBC’s most famous – and
embarrassing – ban. Radio 1 DJ Mike Read pulled the song off air because of its
“disgusting” sexual lyrics. The ban backfired as the song went on to become the
seventh biggest selling single of all time. The intention had always been to
shock: early adverts for the single featured frontman Holly Johnson wearing
rubber gloves alongside the pun: ‘All the nice boys love sea men’. Pic:
PA Photos


The Kingsmen, ‘Louie Louie’ (1963). The ’60s garage-rock anthem, originally
released by R&B artist Richard Berry, was banned by the governer of Indiana,
Matthew E Welsh, due to allegedly indecent lyrics such as “I fuck my girl all
kinds of ways” and “I felt my boner in her hair”. These accusations led to an
FBI investigation for violating obscenity laws – but no charges were brought.


Paul McCartney and Wings, ‘Hi Hi Hi’ (1972). Banned by the BBC for its
“suggestive” lyrics, “get you ready for my body gun” (later corrected by
McCartney to “get you ready for my polygon”, yeah, right) and a slight drug
reference in “We’re gonna get hi, hi, hi”. Radio stations decided to give
airtime to B-side ‘C Moon’ instead. Pic: PA Photos

Music – The Beatles

The Beatles, ‘Yesterday And Today’ (1966). Famously referred to as ‘The Butcher
Cover’, ‘Yesterday And Today’ was only released in the US and Canada. The album
cover featured the band smiling amidst the carnage of decapitated baby dolls and
pieces of meat. After its release, record label Capitol tried to recall the
thousands of already shipped records. Pic: PA Photos



The Who, ‘My Generation’ (1965) The BBC initially refused to play ‘My
Generation’ on air for fear of offending people who stuttered (“talking ‘bout my
g-g-generation”). But when the song became an instant hit, the Beeb gave in and
added the track to their playlist. Pic: PA Photos

Music – The Sex Pistols

house of cards quotes

Sex Pistols, ‘God Save The Queen’ (1977). Released during Queen Elizabeth II’s
Silver Jubilee, the controversial punk hit was banned by many TV, radio and
retail chains, including the BBC. Lyrics “her fascist regime” and “There’s no
future in England’s dreaming” caused uproar. One London shopkeeper was even
charged under the Indecent Advertising Act 1899 for displaying the LP in his
window. Pic: PA Photos


Oasis, ‘Dig Out Your Soul’ (2008). Chinese authorities objected to Noel
Gallagher’s involvement in a 1997 ‘Free Tibet’ concert which has led to the
British band being banned from performing in China this April. Both shows
scheduled for Beijing and Shanghai were cancelled as the government revoked the
performance licenses and instructed ticket agencies to stop selling tickets
immediately. Pic: Dean Chalkley


Avril Lavigne, ‘The Best Damn Thing’ (2007) Islamists in Malaysia urged their
government to cancel the pop-punk princess’ performance in Kuala Lumpur in
August 2008, deeming her to be “too sexy” for them. “We don’t want our people,
our teenagers, influenced by her performance,” said party official Kamarulzaman
Mohamed at the time. Despite an initial ban, the show went ahead as planned.
Pic: PA Photos