5 Classic Songs You Won't Believe Were Once Banned

On June 3, 1956, rock and roll was banned in Santa Cruz, California, after it was believed to be detrimental to the morals and health of the community’s youth. Here are 5 surprising songs were once deemed too scandalous for public consumption…


Bobby Darin’s “Splish Splash” Was About a Guy in a Towel This popular 1958 novelty song reached number three on the pop singles chart but was banned because it suggested nudity. It does mention the singer is wearing a towel, but apparently, that wasn’t enough to pacify some listeners. The song does say the singer puts on dancing shoes, so perhaps assuming he also got dressed should have been addressed in the lyrics to keep censors happy.

“Puff the Magic Dragon” Was Smoked by Censors Spiro Agnew, the then vice president of the United States under Richard Nixon, called for a ban on this 1962 song by Peter, Paul and Mary when he declared that it promoted drug use. Peter Yarrow wrote the song based on a poem by Leonard Lipton, who, in turn, based his poem on “Custard the Dragon,” a children’s poem written by Ogden Nash in 1936. Both of the authors have always insisted the song contained no references to drugs and was just an innocent, childlike fantasy.


“A Day in the Life” Was Banned for Promoting Drugs This catchy Beatles tune released in 1967 with lyrics about current news headlines was banned by BBC radio because of a lyric that says “found my way upstairs and had a smoke.” Found as the last song on the “Sergeant Pepper’s” album, the rest of the songs on the album were played on the air except for the last one. Since Paul McCartney might have been referring to cigarettes or cigars in the lyric, assuming he was promoting drug use might have been a little out of line.

One Song Had its Wording Changed for “The Ed Sullivan Show” “Let’s Spend the Night Together,” was released by The Rolling Stones in 1967 and appeared to be about an overnight romp Mick Jagger was suggesting, which almost got the band banned from Ed Sullivan’s television show. As a compromise, Jagger agreed to change the lyrics on the show to “spend some time together” instead of “spend the night together,” but when singing, he substituted “mmmm” for the missing word. 

“Walk Like an Egyptian” Was One of Many Songs Banned After 9/11 This popular song from The Bangles was banned by Clear Channel after the 9/11 attack on the Twin Towers in New York in 2001. The ban was because of the reference to a country in North Africa. A list of about 150 songs was sent to Clear Channel’s more than 1,000 radio stations with strong suggestions to not play them on the air following 9/11. "Walk Like an Egyptian," was one of them.