The Beatles are regarded as the most influential band of all time. However, the BBC didn’t always think ‘The Fab Four’ were all that fabulous.
As they gradually started to shed their “good boys” image and explored more psychedelic sounds (and drugs), The Beatles found themselves stoking controversy. Remember the “more popular than Jesus” statement? Yeah, that didn’t help.
Anyway, a few of their songs wound up banned by the BBC for what were deemed “sordid” lyrics that the British broadcasting network felt weren’t appropriate to air to the public. Find out why they blocked The Beatles below!
The first draft of this song was written by John Lennon during his “bed-in” with Yoko Ono in 1969. It was written at the request of someone planning to campaign for the governor’s office, so how offensive could it really be?
Sure, the chorus’ plea for togetherness is catchy, but this first track off The Beatles’ Abbey Road is mostly nonsense. So how did it end up banned by the BBC?
Well, the lyrics briefly make reference to Coca-Cola. It turns out the BBC had some strict rules against songs mentioning specific products, so they hilariously banned the song for the product’s name-drop–not the fact that the song was actually talking about drugs.
If you thought “Come Together” was nonsense, “I Am the Walrus” is just straight gibberish. With lyrics like, “I am the egg man, they are the egg men, I am the walrus, goo goo g’joob,” it’s pretty hard to come up with any sort of meaning here.
Written by Paul McCartney and John Lennon, it was designed to confuse. It’s kind of like the lyrical equivalent to a surrealist painting. It seems pretty silly that a nonsensical song about nothing could get banned, but it did.
Apparently just the mere mention of the words “pornographic priestess” and “let your knickers down” were just too risque for the BBC, and they just couldn’t bear to air it.
Okay, this one is clearly a story about the circus. Supposedly, the song was written after John Lennon found inspiration in a framed 19th-century postcard for a Victorian circus. The names in the song are actually references to real performers in a troupe.
While the BBC didn’t catch the drug reference in “Come Together,” they misinterpreted a line in this one as a reference to an illicit substance. The BBC banned the song for mentioning “Henry the Horse,” but the poor horse was just dancing the waltz at the circus, you guys.
Sometimes a horse is just a horse… but “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” is definitely all about drugs.