December 17, 1977 ~ Elvis Costello gets banned from Saturday Night Live when he halts his performance of “Less Than Zero” and plays the searing “Radio Radio” instead.
The move gets him banned from Saturday Night Live, but becomes one of the most memorable moments in the show’s history and a defining moment of Costello’s career, as he shows that he is willing to defy the media in the interest of his art.
Here’s the thing — Elvis and the band weren’t even supposed to be there. The original musical guests was to be The Sex Pistols. They, however, couldn’t get the visa thing in order and The Ramones were then asked to fill in. Joey responded, “We don’t fill in for nobody.” Elvis and The Attractions were asked and, if you look closely, you can see a “Thanks, Malc” t-shirt being sported by drummer Pete Thomas. It’s a message to Ramones manager Malcolm McClaren. You know .. for the visa failure.
Lorne Michaels feels better by 1989, when the ban is lifted and Costello is welcomed as the musical guest on the March 25 show hosted by Mary Tyler Moore. Ten years later, he does a send-up of the incident when during the SNL 25th Anniversary show, he interrupts the Beastie Boys performance and leads them through a reprise of “Radio Radio.”