6 Televised Musical Performances That Caused a Stir

After it introduced The Beatles to America, playing The Ed Sullivan Show became a must for upcoming bands, even as the program struggled to come to terms with the increasingly edgy content of rock songs. The show's producers cajoled the Rolling Stones into changing the lyrics of “Let’s Spend the Night Together” to “Let’s Spend Some Time Together,” though Mick Jagger gave the audience a knowing eye-roll.

The producers couldn't tame The Doors, however, who got a slot on Sullivan’s show nine months after the release of their debut album. Hours before they were set to go on, a producer stopped by their dressing room and instructed them to omit the word “higher” from “Light My Fire,” because of its association with drug use. The group agreed, but as soon as the producer left the room, Jim Morrison made it clear to his bandmates that they weren't going to change a word.

Sullivan and his producers were furious when they heard the offending “higher” during the performance, and the host declined to do the usual handshake with the band after their set. Backstage, a producer told The Doors, “Mr. Sullivan wanted you for six more shows, but you’ll never work The Ed Sullivan Show again,” to which Morrison reportedly shot back, “Hey, man, we just did the Sullivan show.”

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