Vintage Video: Elvis Costello plays ‘Radio Radio’ on ‘Saturday Night Live’ in 1977

On this night in 1977, Elvis Costello & The Attractions — filling in for the Sex Pistols — staged one of the more infamous stunts in “Saturday Night Live” history, pulling the plug on their label-approved song “Less Than Zero” less than 10 seconds in (“I’m sorry, ladies and gentlemen, there’s no reason to do this song here”) and instead ripping through “Radio Radio.”

Legend has it that SNL mastermind Lorne Michaels, apparently not a fan of such spontaneity and concerned about the anti-media sentiment of “Radio Radio,” promptly banned Costello from ever appearing on the show again — one in a long line of such banishment, a list that famously includes the Pope-ripping Sinead O’Connor and The Replacements (for a drunken performance of “Bastards of Young” in 1986 that featured Paul Westerberg shouting “Fuck!” to the crowd).

Costello’s ban, of course, was one of just a handful that Michaels eventually lifted; the singer finally returned to SNL in 1989, and has been back several times. In 1999, during the show’s 25th anniversary season, Michaels even let him reprise the “Radio Radio” stunt during the Beastie Boys’ performance of “Sabotage” (see that video below).

 

 

 

 

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4 Comments

  • Chuck

    Don’t have the vid in front of me, but I’m pretty sure that it was Tommy – and not Paul – who piped in with “Mother Fucker” just before the chorus in Bastards of Young.

     
  • Actually it was Paul calling Bob a motherfucker right before the guitar solo. The only version I’ve seen on YouTube has that part edited out.

     
  • Other than “they are the Sex Pistols”, why didn’t the Sex Pistols make it?

     
 

 

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