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10 Most Rebellious TV Rock Performances

Kurt Cobain
Nirvana: Top of the Pops

Live television is a beautiful thing – especially when you decide to throw hard rock’s most notorious pranksters and all-around unstable maniacs in front of a camera. With no way to predict what could happen, foolhardy television producers all over the world trusted these bands to deliver a conventional, family-friendly slice of rock ‘n’ roll. Luckily for us, what they ended up with the madness that occupies this list. Loudwire proudly presents the 10 Most Rebellious TV Rock Performances:


10

Iron Maiden Humiliate German TV Show

 
 

Iron Maiden are considered by many to be the greatest live band on the planet. Why anyone would want them to play to a pre-recorded track is beyond ridiculous - so fittingly, Maiden decided to act in that exact manner. In this clip from the German TV program 'P.I.T.' in 1986, vocalist Bruce Dickinson barely makes it 10 seconds before switching roles with bassist Steve Harris (who is playing guitar). The entire band has a blast messing with the German audience and no amount of cheesy '80s filters were able to hide the fact.

 
9

System of a Down Drop the F-Bomb on SNL

 
 

In 2005, System of a Down were invited onto Saturday Night Live to play their hit 'B.Y.O.B.' (Bring Your Own Bombs). It was only fitting that guitarist Daron Malakian decided to drop the F-bomb himself. NBC censors were already prepared to mute the profanity within the lyrics of the song, but were caught off guard when Malakian screamed an extra "F--- Yeah!" right before the video's 4-minute mark.

 
8

Iggy Pop Goes Insane on Australian TV

 
 

Iggy Pop is truly one of the first "out of control" rock stars. Known for his drug use, controversial performances and raw power, Iggy Pop fronted the Stooges, who many consider to be the Black Sabbath of punk rock. In 1979, five years after the Stooges' break-up, Iggy Pop appeared on the Australian music show, 'Countdown.' After a strange interview where Iggy yelled "Hiya Darkface!" and "G'Day, G'Day!" to host Molly Meldrum, Iggy took the stage to perform his solo hit 'I'm Bored.' During the performance, Iggy franticly flailed around the stage, stuck the microphone into his golden pants and threw around the mic stand, finally smashing it at the end of the song.

 
7

Nirvana Mess With MTV

 
 

As preparation for the 1992 MTV Video Music Awards began, Nirvana were an obvious choice to perform at the ceremony. MTV and Nirvana immediately clashed on which song they were to perform, MTV wanting 'Smells Like Teen Spirit,' and the band requesting to play 'Rape Me.' They eventually settled on 'Lithium,' but Nirvana gave VMA producers a shock as Kurt Cobain began playing the first few measures of 'Rape Me.' As MTV was about to cut to an emergency break, the band began to play 'Lithium.'

 
6

The Vines' Meltdown on Letterman

 
 

Vines frontman Craig Nicholls is celebrated amongst fans for his reckless and unpredictable stage presence, but after being showcased for David Letterman's audience, many thought they had just witnessed a full-blown on-air meltdown. Letterman himself may have thought the same - as he skipped his customary walk-over handshakes with the band, choosing the comfort and safety of his desk instead.

 
5

The Stranglers Dismantle Top of the Pops

 
 

British punk band the Stranglers had many classic lip-syncing moments on 'Top of the Pops,' but their 1977 performance of 'No More Heroes' is by far the funniest. The band show their distaste of the show's mandatory lip-syncing policy from the very beginning of the song, with vocalist/bassist Jean-Jacques Burnel obnoxiously miming the words in a puppet-like manner. The performance continued with Burnel and guitarist Hugh Cornwell destroying the stage as drummer Jet Black left his kit and began air-drumming with his back turned to the cameras. Keyboardist Dave Greenfield however, didn't miss a note.

 
4

Johnny Rotten Refuses to Lip-Sync on American Bandstand

 
 

What more can be said about Johnny Rotten? He was the face of British punk in the '70s and is one of the most charismatic frontmen of all time. After the Sex Pistols disbanded in 1978, John Lydon formed the experimental group, Public Image Ltd. Although in a different band, Lydon remained rebellious and individualistic - proof of which can be seen during PiL's appearance on 'American Bandstand' in 1980. Lydon refused to lip-sync, instead sitting on the stage looking displeased, blowing his nose into the camera and infiltrating the studio audience, who he brought onto the stage with him.

 
3

The Who Blow Up the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour

 
 

In this classic and infamous clip from the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, the Who were invited onto the show to play 'My Generation.' Drummer Keith Moon had planned to place explosives in his drum kit for the band's finale, but after a failed test-run during rehearsal, Moon ended up with triple the amount of explosives as originally intended. The explosion resulted with Moon getting hit with shrapnel from his cymbals and guitarist Pete Townshend suffering permanent hearing loss. Tom Smothers later claimed, "I was so busy looking for bleeding bodies; I didn’t know what had happened."

 
2

Kurt Cobain Takes Lounge Act to Top of the Pops

 
 

'Top of the Pops' broke protocol somewhat when they invited Nirvana onto the show to play the legendary 'Smells Like Teen Spirit.' Instead of asking the band to mime completely, they decided to allow Kurt Cobain to perform his vocals live. After some playful fake strumming, Kurt Cobain tapped into the smooth styles of a lounge singer as he abandoned his trademark grungey vocals. Listen closely for Kurt changing the first two lines of the song to "Load up on drugs, kill your friends." Nirvana never again graced the 'Top of the Pops' stage.

 
1

Fear Incite Riot on 'Saturday Night Live'

 
 

Fear are one of the last bands you'd expect to have graced the 'Saturday Night Live' stage, but when SNL legend John Belushi is one of your biggest fans, wheels can be greased. SNL's usually conventional live performances turned into a destructive mosh-fest as Fear fans were let loose onto the studio floor. Among the punk kids was Minor Threat's Ian Mackaye, who later claimed, "They [SNL] said they were going to sue us and have us arrested for damages. There was so much hype about that. The New York Post reported half a million dollars worth of damages. It was nothing."

 

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