Rock ‘n’ roll is built on uncontrolled rebellion, passion, and spontaneity. So in other words, it’s not really made for the confines of live television. And that’s what makes it so great when bands perform live on the small screen…you never know WHAT kind of madness might happen! Check out the 10 most outrageous live TV performances in rock history.
1. The Who’s Explosive Turn On The Smothers Brother’s Comedy Hour (1967)
Drummer Keith Moon wanted to make sure that his band ended their American network TV debut with a bang. So he bribed a CBS stagehand to stuff his drum kit with three-times the usual amount of gunpowder for an extra-special finale to their (rather stiffly) lipsync’d version of “My Generation.” The blast was so great that it rendered the television cameras temporarily blind, and caused guest Bette Davis to faint backstage! Flying shrapnel from the symbols sliced Moon’s arm, and guitarist Pete Townshend‘s hair was badly singed. In later years Townshend blamed the explosion on his severe hearing loss. Even if it’s not true, it definitely deserves to be!
2. The Doors Go “Higher” On The Ed Sullivan Show (1967)
When Ed Sullivan‘s producers booked the band to play their summer number one “Light My Fire” on the iconic Sunday night program, they forbade lead singer Jim Morrison from uttering the line “Girl, we couldn’t get much higher,” because of its drug connotations. But as the live TV’s rolled, Jim sang the song as written (causing a priceless smirk from guitarist Robby Krieger). Sure it’s not very outrageous now, but it was shocking enough for Ed to ban them from his show for the rest of their all-too-short career. When an infuriated producer informed the Doors that they’d been blacklisted, Jim allegedly spat back, “”Hey, man. We just did the Sullivan show!”