December 17th, 1977: It's the most infamous SNL musical guest appearance of them all. Elvis Costello and the Attractions abruptly stopped playing the song “Less Than Zero,” from his then-recently released debut, My Aim is True, and launched into a fiery take on “Radio Radio," a new song that wouldn't be released until 1978. The show producers were not amused.
What inspired Costello to make the bold move? "We just sat in our dressing room, guzzling vodka, getting more and more determined to kick up a fuss and be remembered on the program," the artist recalled later. "And we just copped something that Jimi Hendrix did on British TV," he said, referring to a an equally infamous moment across the pond when the Jimi Hendrix Experience wreaked havoc on the Lulu Show back in 1969.
"When we said, ‘Let’s do a Jimi Hendrix on the Lulu show,’ everybody knew what we were saying,” Costello added about the situation, which effectively got the artist and his crew banned from SNL seemingly forever.
Years later, Costello repaired his relationship with Lorne Michaels and Saturday Night Live to the point that not only was the ban lifted, but he was able to link up with the Beastie Boys to parody the incident during the show's 25th anniversary show.
FUN FACT: The night Elvis Costello appeared on SNL, he wasn't the show’s first choice for musical guest. The Sex Pistols had been scheduled to perform, but visa problems kept them out of the country.
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