After years working with the press on behalf of EMI and working as a freelance writer, Brian Southall had a unique perspective on the practice of radio banning a song or group for a variety of reasons. He’s taken those observations, poured them in with a load of research and given us BANNED ON THE RUN: The music THEY wouldn’t let YOU buy. The book chronicles 80 years of music that has been banned by radio or television (and sometimes whole States) making up an entertaining look at the music and radio industry over the years. Brian took a few minutes to tell us a little about the book:
Music Tomes: What inspired you to write Banned on the Run?
Brian Southall: Over the years I had collected in my mind a weird selection of stories about records and acts who were banned or caused controversy — some of whom I worked on or with and probably served as some sort of an inspiration – and I finally decided to collect them all together in a book.
MT: Were there any songs or artists that you came across that you were surprised to see had some trouble with censors?
BS: I suppose some of the artists from the fifties such as Bobby Darin, Shirley Bassey, Eddie Calvert, Johnnie Ray and even the Everly Brothers surprised me as they didn’t seem to be doing much wrong but then it was a different time and broadcasters did see themselves as protectors of the public – even though they got a bit carried away.
MT: Of all of the songs listed, can you pinpoint one of two that made you really shake your head in amazement?
BS: I still love the idea that Mott The Hoople had to change the lyrics on “All The Young Dudes” so that a commercial store (Marks & Spencer) known as Marks & Sparks was not mentioned — while the idea that stealing clothes was OK and was left in the song.
I’m not sure I ever really understood the banning of Melanie’s “Brand New Key” for its “connection” to sex and the idea that instrumentals such as “Man With A Golden Arm” and Link Wray’s “Rumble” should be banned was odd – and just focused attention on something that most people had never noticed.
MT: What are you currently working on?
BS: I’m working on a couple of books for late this year or next year which I’ll keep under wraps for now, but I do have a new title coming out in next month or so entitled From Me To You, which looks at all the songs the Beatles covered on record and most of the ones they covered on stage. It explains where the songs came from, the influence they and the singers had on the Beatles etc. And we look at a few songs by the Beatles that have been covered and compare them with the originals.
MT: Can you recommend some of your favorite music tomes?
BS: Big fan of Mystery Train by Greil Marcus; Elvis by Jerry Hopkins, Brian Epstein by Ray Coleman; Hit Men by Frederic Danen; Bob Dylan’s Chronicles and Catch A Fire (Bob Marley) by Timothy White.