My how times have changed! When you realize what some of the most controversial rock songs of their day got banned for, it feels a little silly now in comparison. Let’s take a look back at why some of our favourite rock artists and their music were banned during a much different time.



1) “My Generation” – The Who

All because of the lyric “Why don’t you all f-f-f-fade away.” The official reason that the BBC gave for banning it on the airwaves was that it could be insulting to people who stutter, but it was wildly believed it was because ‘f-f-f-fade away’ alluded to the more offensive f-word. The song was too popular though and eventually the BBC reversed their decision.


2) “Hey Joe” – Jimi Hendrix

Like many songs after the tragedy of 9/11, “Hey Joe” was added to the long list of songs that radio stations were encouraged to not play because it glorifies violence. Before that though, this song got Hendrix in some hot water after he stopped playing “Hey Joe” during an appearance on the BBC TV show “Happening For Lulu”. He started to play a tribute to Cream instead of following through with a planned duet with pop singer Lulu. You can watch how it all unfolded below, but after his stunt he was banned from ever playing for the BBC again.



3) “(Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” – The Rolling Stones

Back in 1965 this song was pulled from radio stations for being “sexually suggestive” with its lyrics, having statements against commercialism and sexual innuendo. The Rolling Stones faced a lot of criticism but it’s now one of their most famous chart topping songs.



4) “Imagine”  –  John Lennon

John Lennon was never one to stay quiet about his beliefs. In his classic song “Imagine”, Lennon singing about peace and love while suggesting for people to “…imagine there’s no heaven…and no religion too.” , was too much for religious groups to tolerate. It was banned from being sung at funerals and in religious schools in the U.K. Even U.S Republican Senator Lee Tiralo tried to table a bill banning the song from being played on major media outlets because it could “….stir up major political conflicts.”



5) “Brown Eyed Girl” – Van Morrison

This first ever single as a solo artist from Van Morrison was originally titled “Brown Skinned Girl”. At the time of its release (1967), it was still frowned upon to have an interracial relationship. Morrison’s lyrics in this song alluded to just that, so before its release, Morrison changed the title and lyrics to “Brown Eyed Girl” to make it more appealing to radio stations. Some stations banned it anyway though because of the lyric “Making love in the green grass.”



6) “Lola” – The Kinks

Described as one of the most controversial songs of the 1970’s for a few reasons. First the lyric that suggested Lola wasn’t a lady at all, “…walked like a woman and talked like a man.” Then how in the original lyrics there is a reference made to the well known brand Coca-Cola, which had to be changed to “Cherry Cola” because it didn’t line up with BBC airplay guidelines. Then in the U.S The Kinks were banned from performing there for a few years because of how they didn’t fit in with the social norms at the time.



Compared to industry standards today around the world, most of the reasons why these artists and their music were banned wouldn’t hold up. Thankfully these are just some of the classic rock songs to have withstood controversy and the test of time to give us legendary and unforgettable tunes!