Twenty five years ago today, December 17, 1977 was Elvis Costello‘s infamous debut on Saturday Night Live. He was a last minute replacement when the Sex Pistols cancelled out just a few days before the show.
They wanted punk rock, punk rock is what they got. At the start of his second song, Elvis stopped the band, and they ripped into a completely different song from rehearsal that no one at the show had heard or approved. This led to a quick panic in the control room, but he got to sing “Radio, Radio.” Elvis apparently didn’t submit the song for approval because he knew that the network would never him broadcast this diatribe against the corporate media giants such as themselves. As if The Man gave a rat’s ass about the lyrics of some rock song.
The live performance has since been released on an official SNL album recently. At the time, it just got him banned from the show for a decade or so.
It was worth it, though. The pure visceral heady rush of getting away with something is remarkable. You really got to love this. It’s a legendary moment.Powered by Sidelines