Vintage Audio: Elvis Costello Gets Himself Banned From Saturday Night Live

38 years ago tonight, on December 17, 1977, Elvis Costello and the Attractions were asked to replace the Sex Pistols as the musical guest on Saturday Night Live after the British group could not obtain visas due to their criminal records.

The show, which was hosted by Miskel Spillman who had won a contest where "anyone can host Saturday Night Live", was moving along well until it was Costello's time to play. His debut album, My Aim is True, had been out for six months in the U.K. but was only now being released in the U.S. Executives from Columbia and the show producers wanted Elvis to perform the song Less Than Zero from the album, but Costello had other ideas.

Elvis played the first few bars of Less Than Zero before yelling "Stop! Stop! I'm sorry, ladies and gentlemen, there's no reason to do this song here." He then launched into Radio Radio, a song that wouldn't even be on the initial pressings of his next album, This Year's Model and wouldn't be released as a single until October of the next year.

The move got Costello banned from Saturday Night Live for over a decade.

The following is audio from the broadcast. The video is available on the Saturday Night Live video sets.


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