The 5: SNL Music Acts Banned From TV

This Week on the 5: Controversial SNL Musical Performances

is one of the last bastions in television where one can see live music. There have been countless classic performances seen on the stage in Studio 8H. Yet, in 38 years of live music, some acts were bound to go sideways. Below are the 5 most hectic, high and ban worthy performances in the show’s history.

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  • October 31, 1981:  FEAR.  On Halloween night, 1981, the now legendary punk band FEAR took the stage at Saturday Night Live. How’d they get on? John Belushi was a huge fan and said he’d come on the show if they booked the band. Dick Ebersol said yes since he just took over and the 1980 season was a disaster. A clusterfuck ensued. Once FEAR went on, the crowd who came for them trashed the SNL studios, causing an estimated $250,000 dollars in damages. The video of the performance is below, along with John Joseph of the Cro-Mags account of the night since he was in the audience.  Scroll down for the video of the performance (or click here) and to hear John Joseph of the Cro-Mags tell the story.
  • October 3, 1992:  Sinead O’Connor.   Sinead famously tore up a photo of Pope John Paul II while doing an accapella cover of the Bob Marley song “War”. She changed the word racism in the song to child abuse in protest to the sex abuses cases levied against the Roman Catholic Church. As she sang the word evil, she tore up the picture of the pope. In dress rehearsal she had a picture of a child. NBC received nearly 4500 calls bashing Sinead from viewers that weekend. Scroll down for the video or watch it here.
  • December 17, 1977:  Elvis Costello & The Attractions.  The below video caused Elvis to be banned from SNL for the following 12 years. The show and Costello’s label were pressuring him to play Less Than Zero after he was booked to perform. He decided to play the first few seconds of Less than Zero then jump into Radio Radio. Lorne Michaels was not pleased. But there is a happy ending, Elvis came back to do the show in 1989 and 1999, where he interrupted the Beastie Boys performance on the 25th anniversary show.  Scroll down to watch or click here, and here.
  • April 13, 1996:  Rage Against the Machine.  Someone thought it was a great idea to book Rage and Steve Forbes (who was running for president at the time) on the same show. Rage wanted two upside down American flags displayed behind them during their performance, but 30 seconds before Steve Forbes was to introduce them on the air, live, SNL stage hands rushed the stage and tore them down before they went to air. Rage only performed one song that night, Bulls on Parade, because they were booted from the building afterwards. Scroll down for the video or watch it here.
  • January 18, 1996. The Replacements.  Rumored to have been pounding champagne backstage, the Replacements showed up to SNL piss drunk to perform. The band swapped clothes with each other between the first and second song as well. Their sloppy and unprofessional performance got them banned for life from the show, so god knows what was happening backstage. You have to admit, they were pretty tight for being blitzed.  Scroll down or click here to watch song one and song two from the performance.

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FEAR October 31, 1981

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Story of the night told by John Joseph of the Cro-Mags

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Sinead O’Connor

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Elvis Costello & The Attractions

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Rage Against the Machine

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The Replacements

 


What a mess by mmr421

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That’s where we’re riding by mmr421

 

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