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10 of the best... Songs banned by the BBC

  • By MisterCharlie Author Avatar
  • 18 November 2011

Everyone loves a bit of controversy. Everyone that is, except the BBC. Auntie’s been banning records since radio began, and whilst in these more lenient days you could probably get away with Gary Glitter covering Bump N Grind on the Breakfast Show, it wasn’t always so. Songs have been banned for being too rude, too sexy, too sweary, too druggy and too spooky, although never, unfortunately, for just being shit.  This then is a quick ten slices of the best songs the BBC ever deemed you ain’t fit to hear. Treasure them in all their naughty glory ...


The Moontrekkers – Night of the Vampire

Unbelievable now, but when this jaunty rock n roll instrumental was released in ’61, radio refused to play it for fear of the ‘terrifying’ sound effects leading to fatalities in people of a nervous disposition. That’s right. The sound of a door creaking and a man laughing. Brrrrrrrr.



Johnny Leyton – Johnny Remember Me

Another blast from the early 60s, Johnny Remember Me was part of the Death Pop teen genre that had authorities quaking. For a contemporary analogy, imagine if, tomorrow, a group called Benefit Scum released a tune called Rape Rave Riot, with an accompanying video of the band shagging each other in a burnt out JD Sports, and you’re getting close to the controversy Death Pop caused.  The basic premise of Death Pop was pretty simple- boy meets girl, they fall in love, one of them dies. Maybe the other one dies as well. The end. And teenagers lapped it up. As you’ll see throughout this list, the BBC’s decision to ban Johnny Remember Me served only to shunt it up the charts, with the song taking the number 1 spot and selling half a million copies. Way to go censors.  



The Chakachas – Jungle Fever

OK, so give this 70s hit a quick listen and try and guess why the BBC deemed it ‘unsuitable’. Was it the slapping tabla drums? Or maybe the quick stepping guitar? The cheeky horns? The bassline? What could it be? The orgasming woman...? Naaaah.....



The Rolling Stones – Let’s Spend the Night Together

Mick may have penned a few raunchy numbers, but this one’s really got the censors’ goat. The BBC weren’t alone in banning Let’s Spend the Night Together, most US radio stations wouldn’t touch it, Ed Sullivan swore the Stones would never play on his show again after Mick was snotty about changing the lyrics, and in 2006 China still wouldn’t let them perform the song- although that may be more to do with the horrific images a decaying Jagger crooning about one stands conjures.



The Shaman – Ebeneezer Goode

“E’s are good, E’s are good”. Nuff said really.



Anti Nowhere League – So What

So What was the profanity laced B side of this scum punk outfits debut. It went on to become the bands anthem, so, quicker than you can say ‘ballsack’ the Beeb banned it. The furore rose to such a level that the Metropolitan police’s Obscene Publication Squad seized and destroyed numerous copies shortly after the record was released, partially because of the lyric "I fucked a sheep// I fucked a goat// I stuck my cock right down it's throat// So what?". Nice. Inevitably it went on to crack the top 50- you can’t buy that sort of publicity... 



Dead Kennedies – Too Drunk To Fuck

Sticking with punk rudeness, in spite of a blanket radio ban Californian hardcore outfit Dead Kennedies have the honour of being the first band to enter the UK top 40 with a song title including the word ‘fuck’. Lots of other songs could have easily, with a touch of jigging, taken this prize. If only Lennon had had the balls to release Just Fucking Well Imagine.  Still, he might as well of done, as we’ll see –



John Lennon – Imagine

Yep, Imagine was banned as well.

“Not one of the nations favourite songs!” I hear you cry---

But the powers that be decided Lennon’s paean to peace had no place on the airwaves while we were bombing the shit out of Iraq. At the commencement of the first Gulf War a whole host of songs got pulled from the playlists, and this was probably the biggest—



The Cure – Killing An Arab

This track from the Cure also got pulled in the Gulf War, although bearing in mind the whole vibe of the conflict it could just have easily been stuck on rotation. Racist skinheads used to love Killing An Arab, but to be fair, few of them had plowed through Albert Camus’s classic existential novel L'Étranger, the inspiration behind the song...



Frankie Goes To Hollywood – Relax

And finally, Relax, one of the biggest selling and most controversial releases of the 80s. Cheese riddled ‘I’m A Celebrity’ Radio 1 DJ Mike Read denounced Relax as disgusting, the original ad campaign announced that Frankie were going to make Duran Duran “lick the shit off their shoes” and the single stayed in the top 75 for 52 weeks. Really, what’s not to like?