40 Years Ago: The Rolling Stones’ ‘Star Star’ Gets 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,’ a song off their then-new album ‘Goats Head Soup,’ was banned on account of its obscene lyrics.
The Chuck Berry-styled rocker 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. However, the chorus, which features Jagger repeatedly calling the woman by the slur in the original title.
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 embedded below, Jagger changes 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, it was nonetheless released as a single in more permissive European countries like Germany and France.
Hear ‘Star Star’ by the Rolling Stones