July 25, 2012

Video: Elvis Costello - "Radio Radio" (1977 SNL)

"Radio is in the hands of such a lot of fools / Trying to anesthetize the way that you feel."

The Sex Pistols were slated to play Saturday Night Live on December 17th in 1977, however after the U.S. government denied the band's visa requests, the show runners replaced the band with another British act—Elvis Costello and The Attractions. Just two lines into their song "Less Than Zero," Costello yells at the band to stop: "I'm sorry, ladies and gentleman. There's no reason to do this song here." They then launch into a scorching rendition of "Radio Radio." In Mark Baumgarten's excellent book, "Love Rock Revolution: K Records and the Rise of Independent Music," the author explains that SNL producer Lorne Michaels had specifically told Costello not to play the song because of its unveiled criticism at the state of radio. Subsequently, Costello was banned from the show for the next 12 years. "It was just so raw," remarks K Records founder Calvin Johnson in the book. "Usually when the band gets done, they're bowing and clapping. He just walked off."

If you're a fan of independent music, I highly recommend picking up Baumgarten's book. It's a true joy to read.

Elvis Costello & The Attractions - "Radio Radio" (Live At The El Mocambo)

Elvis Costello & The Imposters

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