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BBC Once Asked Rage Against The Machine Not To Swear During Live Broadcast And It Went Exactly As You'd Expect

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BBC Once Asked Rage Against The Machine Not To Swear During Live Broadcast And It Went Exactly As You'd Expect

A video has re-emerged of the time that BBC Radio 5 Live broadcast a live performance from Rage Against the Machine, and its request for the famously sweary band not to turn the airwaves blue was completely ignored. Watch below:

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Back in 2009, when the leftist rockers were battling against X Factor winner Joe McElderry for Christmas Number One, the four-piece were invited to play their 1993 protest anthem Killing In The Name on the BBC.

Aware that the song culminated with frontman Zack de la Rocha yelling ‘f*** you I won’t do what you tell me’ a total of 16 times, the Beeb warned the band to keep things clean. But, in the spirit of rock and roll, this request was totally ignored.

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La Rocha managed four refrains of the line, dropping the f-bomb each time, before producers managed to halt the broadcast.

Exasperated host Shelagh Fogarty could be heard shouting, ‘Get rid of it!’ in the background, before telling listeners: “Sorry, we needed to get rid of that because that suddenly turned into something we weren't expecting.

“Well, we were expecting it and we asked them not to do it and they did it anyway.”

Rage Against The Machine's performance did not go the way the BBC had hoped. Credit: BBC Radio 5 Live
Rage Against The Machine's performance did not go the way the BBC had hoped. Credit: BBC Radio 5 Live
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The BBC later issued a formal apology, saying in a statement: “5 Live breakfast featured a live broadcast of the song Killing in the Name by Rage Against the Machine.

“We had spoken to the band repeatedly beforehand and they had agreed not to swear. When they did we faded the band out and apologised immediately to anyone who was offended.”

5 Live editor Richard Jackson also spoke out about the incident at the time, responding to fans who accused them of being naive for expecting a band with Rage Against The Machine’s reputation to stick to their promise not to swear.

He wrote on the 5 Live blog: “When Rage Against the Machine swore on Breakfast this morning, some people felt we should have seen it coming.

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“The song ‘Killing in the Name’ includes the f-word in the lyrics – and when the band accepted our request for an interview for today's programme and then agreed to perform the song live from Los Angeles, we were aware of the need to address this issue.

Rage Against The Machine frontman Zack de la Rocha. Credit: Alamy
Rage Against The Machine frontman Zack de la Rocha. Credit: Alamy

“Which is why our producer had several conversations with the band and their management about the requirement not to swear. We told them it was a breakfast show. We took them at their word when they said there would be no bad language.

“When it became clear on air they were including the f-words, we faded the song out and apologised.

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“Not before we heard some swearing on air. We're sorry for that and I apologise again to anyone who was offended.”

Despite telling porkies to the Beeb, Rage Against The Machine did go on to snag the 2009 Christmas Number One, beating McElderry’s cover of Miley Cyrus’ The Climb and ending The X Factor’s four-year streak of Christmas Number Ones with a track that was 16 years old.

Featured Image Credit: BBC Radio 5 Live

Topics: Music, BBC

Simon Fearn
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