1954 September 24

Billboard Magazine Calls for Censorship of R&B Songs


In an editorial on this day entitled “Control the Dimwits,” Billboard magazine, the trade publication of the recorded music industry, called for removing rhythm and blues records with sexual double entendres from jukeboxes. The Songwriter’s Protective Association endorsed the editorial, and police in Memphis, Tennessee, and Long Beach, California, confiscated jukeboxes with the offending records. The largest jukebox operator in the New York City area offered to remove any records that Billboard would list.

The years 1954–55 were the high point of moralistic public reaction to this new thing called “rock and roll.” For some of the censorship events, see March 28, 1955; May 22, 1955; and August 21, 1955.

Listen to some double entendre songs from the 1950s:

Work With Me Annie:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d1iIukCOYZI

Sixty Minute Man: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OpQuNY3XFI0

Learn more: Eric Nuzum, Parental Advisory: Music Censorship in America (2001) [See especially the decade-by-decade chronology of music censorship in the Appendix]

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