Many musicians take the opportunity of a television appearance to guarantee that they will never appear on television again, because the greatest rock stars are the ones who tell everyone to go to hell.
The LA hardcore band Fear was invited to perform on SNL in 1981 at the behest of John Belushi, who above all else was known for his rational suggestions. They greeted the New York audience by declaring "It's great to be in New Jersey!" before launching into screaming power chords delivered by three obvious drug addicts and a man wearing a dress.
Oh, and they brought a crew of moshers along with them (including Ian MacKaye of Fugazi) who knocked down everything within swirling fist range. They were not invited back.
The lyric "Girl, we couldn't get much higher" from the Doors' single "Light My Fire" was a point of contention before their 1967 appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, because the show's producers were dead set on pretending that nobody in the '60s smoked weed. The band agreed to change the word "higher" to "better," despite the fact that this totally ruins the rhyme scheme.
However, Jim Morrison either decided not to sing the revised lyrics or (more likely) simply got lost in his own mind and forgot about them. The look on guitarist Robby Krieger's face conveys both the hilarity of the situation and the understanding that they won't be playing on The Ed Sullivan Show ever again (although, as the end of the video demonstrates, the producers will have absolutely no problem selling copies of the performance 45 years later).
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Jim Morrison would go on to repeatedly prove that he could, in fact, get much higher.
The British music showcase Top of the Pops used to require bands to sing live while pantomiming over pre-recorded instrumental tracks. They invited Nirvana to perform under these guidelines, evidently without ever having seen a Nirvana performance.
Kurt Cobain, famous for not doing what he was told regardless of whether or not he truly had a problem with it, made absolutely no attempt to look like he was actually playing his instrument. He then sang "Smells Like Teen Spirit" in its entirety like a karaoke version of an Echo and the Bunnymen song and changed the first lyric to "Load up on drugs and kill your friends," because Kurt's sense of humor could liberally be called "quirky."
In a 2005 benefit telethon for Hurricane Katrina survivors, Kanye West, bordered by the grimmest-looking Mike Myers since The Cat in the Hat's opening weekend, stared frozen-eyed into the camera like a stroke victim and launched into a rambling diatribe that began with him criticizing the bumbling way relief efforts had been handled by the federal government and ended with the most legendary non-lethal presidential diss of all-time ... "George Bush doesn't care about black people."
Mike Myers locks up, like he isn't sure if he should sprint off camera, and Bush later cited this incident as the low point of his presidency, which we'd like to point out included September 11.
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Kanye West: Worse than terrorism.
For their second set on the December 17, 1977 broadcast of Saturday Night Live, NBC requested that Elvis Costello and the Attractions play their U.K. single "Less Than Zero." Costello felt that since the song was an indictment of British politics, it wouldn't really connect with an American audience. He suggested that they play "Radio Radio" instead, to which NBC replied, "Play the 'Zero' song, please, asshole."
So they played it. For five seconds.
Watch the video here!
Costello then abruptly stopped the song and said, "I'm sorry, ladies and gentlemen, there's no reason to be doing this song here," before tearing into "Radio Radio" like he was trying to hate-fuck NBC to death with music. He was banned from the show and didn't appear again for more than a decade. Awesomely, he parodied the incident in 1999 during the Beastie Boys' SNL performance of "Sabotage" where he jumped onstage to say the exact same phrase he let loose back in 1977 before leading the Beasties into "Radio Radio."
Mike Floorwalker has a website that's ... well, that's just super.