Saturday Matinee: Just before Elvis Costello was banned from SNL
On December 17, 1977, Elvis Costello and the Attractions performed on Saturday Night Live, filling in for the Sex Pistols, who were having visa issues. I’d always wondered what the deal was with Costello stopping mid-verse and launching into a different song.
From Dangerous Minds:
Costello’s record label, Columbia, wanted him to perform “Less Than Zero”, the first single from his as yet unreleased (in the U.S.) debut album My Aim Is True. Elvis wanted to perform “Radio Radio,” his attack on corporate control of the airwaves – a punk move that would have been in the spirit of The Pistols. Columbia disapproved of the idea and SNL producer Lorne Michaels allegedly told Costello, on orders from his employer NBC, to not perform “Radio Radio.”
Come show time, the band started playing “Less Than Zero” and then abruptly stopped and shifted into “Radio Radio.” At the end of the tune, they defiantly walked off the set.