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42 Years Ago: The Rolling Stones’ ‘Star Star’ Banned by the BBC

On Sept. 10, 1973, the Rolling Stones broke a 10-year history of clean, upstanding living when the BBC announced that “Star Star” was banned on account of its obscene lyrics.

The Chuck Berry-styled rocker, off their then-new album Goats Head Soup, deals with a woman for whom Mick Jagger is just another celebrity notch on her presumably rhinestone-studded belt. Written as “Starf—er,’ its name was changed at the behest of Atlantic Records chief Ahmet Ertegun. The chorus, however, still features Jagger repeatedly calling the woman by the original title’s slur.

As if the lyrics weren’t direct enough, Jagger drove the point home in concert. During the performance of that song on the 1975 tour, a giant inflatable penis would appear on the stage, which Jagger would ride.

Another source of controversy was in the final verse, where Jagger hears rumors about her sexual activity with actor Steve McQueen, and that she had her eyes set on Hollywood legend John Wayne. Perhaps the latter was a bit too iconoclastic. In the live version from 1978 that you can hear above, Jagger changed the lyric to take a shot at a fellow rocker. “Jimmy Page / Was quite a rage / I could not see the reason why.”

Despite being banned by the BBC, “Star Star” was released as a single in more permissive European countries like Germany and France.

See the Rolling Stones’ Keith Richards Through the Years

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