Battle of the banned

Authorities kick out the jams
By DANIEL BROCKMAN  |  March 2, 2009

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The wild ones: Can the Black Lips keep up with their rep? By Daniel Brockman.

It's one thing to be a musician and get thrown out of Disneyland (Velvet Underground) or banned from a national landmark (Ozzy Osbourne at the Alamo), but you've hit rock paydirt when you become the target of an entire nation. Whether it's the Black Lips' recent ouster from India (for all manner of on-stage obscenity in Chennai) or Björk's incendiary comments about Tibet at a Shanghai show last year that has Chinese officials rethinking their nation's open-door policy for Western entertainers, the world at large isn't always ready for the rock.

THE KINKS | Ray Davies has frequently complained that his band's blacklisting by the American Federation of Musicians between 1966 and 1969 kept them from becoming a household name like the Beatles, the Stones, and the Who. Although the legend of that blacklisting has morphed into a story about teen-pop wizards too unruly for American society, the truth is far more mundane, having to do with a dispute between the AFM and the band's management over the use of non-union stagehands. And, of course, the "ban" was what actually made the Kinks' legacy what it is now, as the band, stuck in dreary England, proceeded to create a catalogue of über-British tunes filled with the Victorian flourishes that distinguished them from the road-warrior vibe of so many of their contemporaries.

GOOGOOSH | Sometimes an artist doesn't have to travel to a foreign country to get banned. Take Faegheh Atashin a/k/a Googoosh, Iran's most popular musician throughout the '70s. Googoosh had parlayed her '60s film stardom into a musical career that saw her become as beloved in her home country as Elvis was in the States. Her career was cut short by the Iranian Revolution of 1979, when many Iranian entertainers fled to the West. Googoosh stayed in Iran, but her music was silenced by a ban on female solo singers. In 2000, Iranian-American filmmaker Farhad Zamani released the documentary Googoosh: Iran's Daughter and sparked a resurgence of Googoosh nostalgia among Iranian ex-pats around the globe, bringing her out of her imposed retirement to play concerts outside Iran.

RY COODER | In the late '90s, no one was a more effective musical ambassador than Ry Cooder, whose production for the soundtrack to Buena Vista Social Club introduced the world to a group of long-lost Cuban musical legends. After the album's commercial success, however, his attempt at a sequel was almost stalled by the US State Department's Cuban Affairs division, whose concern over an American's profiting from visits to Cuba prompted it to reject his request to return to Cuba in August 2000. President Clinton intervened on Cooder's behalf, and that allowed him to record tracks with Cuban guitar legend Manuel Galban of the group Los Zafiros.

SNOOP DOGG | Like a parent handing down a "no TV for the rest of your life" punishment only to rescind it a week later, the UK in 2006 barred Calvin Broadus a/k/a Snoop Dogg from the country "forever" as the result of a brawl at Heathrow Airport involving the rapper and his entourage and a subsequent review of his American criminal record by some stuffy British types that probably resulted in a gavel's being slammed down by a guy in a powdered wig. Snoop Dogg's desperate appeal to be allowed to milk the rainy island nation for more "Drop It like It's Hot" sales did result in the lifting of the ban last year.

Related: Photos: Snoop Dogg with Method Man and Redman, Smack downer, Billboard's Rap Songs chart, More more >
  Topics: Music Features , Elvis Presley, Black Lips, banned,  More more >
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