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Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Super Bowl Kerfuffle

(Musical reference)

One of the more famous episodes of the history of rock-and -roll is the Rolling Stones' 1967 appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show. As Wikipedia states:

[T]hey were forced to change the chorus of "Let's Spend the Night Together" to an incomprehensible mumble, or by some accounts "Let's Spend Some Time Together," rather than accept censorship

The Stones agreed to self-censorship even though they didn't like it; in video footage Mick Jagger can be seen rolling his eyes while singing the altered lyrics.

Ed Sullivan (and/or the CBS censors) were right. The show was family entertainment; like any other business the show owed its primary allegiance to the customer base, not to contract labor.

Now history repeats itself, with a few wrinkles. Initially, someone gave NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy the wrong info on what happened - that the Rolling Stones agreed to self-censorship in advance. After that claim was refuted by Stones spokesindividual Fran Curtis, McCarthy went to the Powers That Be and got a clarification:

"We had worked it out with the Stones earlier in the week that at those particular moments, 'Start Me Up,' the one word, and 'Rough Justice,' the one word, we were going to turn down the mike at those times, and the Stones were aware of it, and they were fine with it."

As the Ed Sullivan footage illustrates, going along with a plan and liking it are two different things.

Joe Gandelman has some bloggage on the story. Also, read my 2004 post Contempt For The Customer - it's about more than just Janet Jackson.

Update: It has yet to be confirmed that the Stones planned to lead the set with "Under My Thumb" had the halftime score been a blowout.

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