|1950 – 1959
1950s. USA. Paul Robeson
Febuary 1952. USA. Seeger & the Weavers
1958-1959. USA. Link Wray
|A more extensive list of censorship incidents in the USA 1950-2000 was created by Eric Nuzum. See below, or see: web.archive.org/ericnuzum.com/banned/
Six counties in South Carolina pass legislation outlawing jukebox operation anytime when within hearing distance of a church.
Webb Pierce’s “There Stands the Glass” is banned from radio because the lyrics are thought to condone heavy drinking.
Congressional representative Ruth Thompson introduces legislation that is meant to ban the mailing of certain “pornographic” records through the U.S. mail.
The Boston Catholic Youth Organization begins a campaign of policing dances and lobbying disc jockeys to stop playing “obscene” songs at record hops and on the radio.
For radio airplay the perceived drug reference “I get no kick from cocaine,” is changed to “I get perfume from Spain.” in Cole Porter’s classic “I Get A Kick Out of You.”
The editorial, “Control the Dimwits,” which appears in the September 24 issue of Billboard, condemns R&B songs that contain double entendre references to sex. In response, police in Long Beach, California, and Memphis, Tennessee, confiscate jukeboxes and fine their owners. Similar jukebox bans occur across the country.
In October, WDIA and several other large popular music radio stations ban several songs for their sexually suggestive lyrics. The station runs on-air announcements saying, “WDIA, your good-will station, in the interest of good citizenship, for the protection of morals and our American way of life does not consider this record, [name of song], fit for broadcast on WDIA. We are sure all you listeners will agree with us.”
The ABC network bans the Rosemary Clooney hit “Mambo Italiano,” saying it did not meet the network’s “standards for good taste.”
In one week’s time during April, Chicago radio stations receive 15,000 complaint letters protesting their broadcast of rock music as part of an organized campaign. The letters call for the station to remove controversial songs from their playlists.
Variety runs a three-part series on what they term “leer-ics,” or R&B songs with obscene lyrics, calling for censorship of the recording industry. The articles compare these songs to dirty postcards and chastises the music industry for selling “their leer-ic garbage by declaring that’s what kids want.”
The Juvenile Delinquency and Crime Commission of Houston, Texas, bans more than 30 songs it considers obscene. The Commission’s list is almost entirely comprised of black artists
Officials cancel rock and roll concerts scheduled in New Haven and Bridgeport, Connecticut; Boston; Atlanta; Jersey City and Asbury Park, New Jersey; Burbank, California; and Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Observers mistake dancing at concerts for riots and fighting.
CBS television network cancels Alan Freed’s Rock ‘n Roll Dance Party after a camera shows Frankie Lymon (leader of the doo wop group Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers) dancing with a white girl.
Officials in San Diego and Florida police warn Elvis Presley that if he moves at all during his local performances, he will be arrested on obscenity charges.
Also in April, members of the White Citizens Council of Birmingham, Alabama, rush the stage at a Nat King Cole concert and beat the legendary performer. Seeing the reaction of Birmingham’s young teen girls to Nat’s crooning, the council members confuse Cole’s music with newly popular R&B.
The Parks Department in San Antonio, Texas, removes all rock and roll records from jukeboxes located at city swimming pools, terming it “jumpy, hot stuff” that is unsuitable for teens.
Network officials ban the novelty hit “Transfusion” by Dot and Diamond from ABC, CBS, and NBC radios in June. According to one NBC executive, “There is nothing funny about a blood transfusion.”
Fearing the effects of the “hedonistic, tribal rhythms” of rock and roll music, in March Chicago’s Cardinal Stritch bans popular music from all Catholic-run schools.
Congress considers that legislation requires song lyrics to be screened and altered by a review committee before being broadcast or offered for sale.
Wanting to secure an appearance on the hit television program American Bandstand, singer Lloyd Price agrees to re-cut the lyrics to his song “Stagger Lee,” removing all references to violence.
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