One of the most interesting things about the TOTP documentary was talk of the Clash and their notorious boycott of the show. They refused to appear and I am sure their record sales suffered to some extent. BBC had their revenge though…and put their troupe of dancers on screen to cavort to Bank Robber when it was stealing (sorry!) up the charts.
But that Clash decision has to be placed in the context of musicians who refused to do something on principle. Something that would help their career, help them sell product. How many acts would actually take a stance that results in lost sales?
Richard Jobson from the Skids said their decision to play the show almost caused the band to break up. Stuart Adamson was furious as he didn’t want to play according to his bandmate. The inspiration of the Clash led to his wish to boycott the show. Jobson talked about the dilemma. It was particularly acute because ‘his friends’ Cook and Jones from the Sex Pistols were telling him to go ahead and play the show…while Adamson was wracked with guilt about it because of the Clash example. The Clash and the Pistols: same era different decisions, different values.
The documentary also discussed how Captain Sensible was told they were off the show if he wore his chosen outfit of a fetching (bridal?) dress! Funny to think of the power wielded by the TOTP producers.
Don’t forget the Gang of Four refused to appear when BBC wanted them to change the lyrics to a song to erase (sorry again, that’s twice) the word rubbers from their song. All of this reminds me of when Krusty the Clown wanted the Red Hot Chili Peppers to tone down their words and they exclaimed what a great idea that was…and then performed the song as written.
I shall continue to think about other bands who have made principled stands. It is a great change from people grabbing at every opportunity for some publicity.