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When Lou Reed Was Deemed Too Punk For London

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Getty Images

By 1977, Lou Reed's influence could be seen and heard across the era's musical landscape. Facets of the budding punk and new wave genres boasted a raw sound, transgressive lyrics, and a blasé counterculture image that matched the blueprint Reed had established with The Velvet Underground a decade earlier.

Reed was “happy to lap up his newfound adulation,” wrote Mick Wall in the biography Lou Reed: The Life. He spent time “checking out the new wave of bands then playing CBGBs” and “talking trash to the kids from the new fanzine Punk, getting off on seeing how much they were getting off on the fact he was talking to them.”

The new punk kids on the scene, however, helped throw a wrench in his 1977 European tour plans. That May, Reed was set to play a series of shows at the London Palladium to promote his album Rock and Roll Heart. The 2286-seat venue had hosted American musical dignitaries like Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, Nat King Cole, Johnny Cash, and Roy Orbison. However, Lou Reed would have to wait to join that celebrated list; on March 20, the Palladium canceled his May shows—and some of the blame was placed on the new legion of his musical offspring.

As Reed was preparing to cross the Pond, The Sex Pistols had smashed their way into the British public's consciousness. They were known for their rowdy, booze-soaked concerts, and on December 1, 1976, the band made a notorious TV appearance where they cussed out Thames Television host Bill Grundy. According Punk Diary: The Ultimate Trainspotter's Guide to Underground Rock by George Gimarc, a media frenzy followed, and venues across the country responded by canceling shows the band had booked for their "Anarchy in the UK Tour."

At the time, Reed had no direct association with The Sex Pistols; he was a 35-year-old introspective musician whose latest album featured a number of throwback songs about boogying. Shortly after the cancelation, Reed told British music publication Melody Maker the venue pulled his show because they had lumped him in with the most controversial band in the UK, The Sex Pistols. Due to his influence, he was deemed punk by association.

Still, The Sex Pistols may not have been entirely to blame. In Dirty Blvd.: The Life and Music of Lou Reed, Aidan Levy speculates that the owners of the Palladium may have also remembered Reed’s infamous February 1975 visit to the Palazzo Dello Sport in Rome. Protestors angry about the high price of concert tickets became unruly and ripped apart pieces of the venue, costing extensive damage. This event also contributed to the slowdown of rock show imports to Italy.

Nonetheless, Reed was deeply upset about being deemed persona non grata by the Palladium. "I’m on the way to Stockholm where the temperature is below zero,” Reed said in a press conference after the cancelation, “but it’s much colder in the heart of the person who banned me.”

This punk rock tale manages to have a happy ending, however. Lou Reed was able to reschedule his London shows at a new venue in 1977. By 1989, the Palladium's punk-rock rage died down sufficiently to finally invite him back.

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The Star Trek Theme Song Has Lyrics
Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The Star Trek theme song is familiar to pretty much anyone who lived in the free world (and probably elsewhere, too) in the late 20th century. The tune is played during the show's opening credits; a slightly longer version is played, accompanied by stills from various episodes, during the closing credits. The opening song is preceded by William Shatner (as Captain Kirk) doing his now-legendary monologue recitation, which begins: "Space, the final frontier ..."

The show's familiar melody was written by respected film and TV composer Alexander Courage, who said the Star Trek theme's main inspiration was the Richard Whiting song "Beyond the Blue Horizon." In Courage's contract it was stipulated that, as the composer, he would receive royalties every time the show was aired and the theme song played. If, somehow, Star Trek made it into syndication—which, of course, it ultimately did—Courage stood to make a lot of money. And so did the person who wrote the lyrics.


Gene Roddenberry, the show's creator, wrote lyrics to the theme song.

"Beyond the rim of the star-light,
my love is wand'ring in star-flight!"

Why would Roddenberry even bother?

The lyrics were never even meant to be heard on the show, but not because the network (NBC) nixed them. Roddenberry nixed them himself. Roddenberry wanted a piece of the composing profits, so he wrote the hokey lyrics solely to receive a "co-writer" credit.

"I know he'll find in star-clustered reaches
Love, strange love a star woman teaches."

As one of the composers, Roddenberry received 50 percent of the royalties ... cutting Alexander Courage's share in half. Not surprisingly, Courage was furious about the deal. Though it was legal, he admitted, it was unethical because Roddenberry had contributed nothing to why the music was successful.

Roddenberry was unapologetic. According to Snopes, he once declared, "I have to get some money somewhere. I'm sure not gonna get it out of the profits of Star Trek."

In 1969, after Star Trek officially got the ax, no one (Courage and Roddenberry included) could possibly have imagined the show's great popularity and staying power.

Courage, who only worked on two shows in Star Trek's opening season because he was busy working on the 1967 Dr. Doolittle movie, vowed he would never return to Star Trek.

He never did.


If you're looking for an offbeat karaoke number, here are Roddenberry's lyrics, as provided by Snopes:

The rim of the star-light
My love
Is wand'ring in star-flight
I know
He'll find in star-clustered reaches
Strange love a star woman teaches.
I know
His journey ends never
His star trek
Will go on forever.
But tell him
While he wanders his starry sea
Remember, remember me.

Ralph Gatti, AFP/Getty Images
The 'David Bowie Is' Exhibition Is Coming to Your Smartphone
 Ralph Gatti, AFP/Getty Images
Ralph Gatti, AFP/Getty Images

"David Bowie is," an exhibition dedicated to the life, work, and legacy of the pop icon, concluded its six-year world tour on July 15. If you didn't get a chance to see it in person at its final stop at New York City's Brooklyn Museum, you can still experience the exhibit at home. As engadget reports, the artifacts displayed in the collection will be recreated in virtual and augmented reality.

The Victoria and Albert Museum, the curator of the exhibit, and the David Bowie Archive are collaborating with Sony Music Entertainment and the sound and media studio Planeta on the new project, "David Bowie is Virtual." Like the physical exhibition, the digital experience will integrate visual scenes with the music of David Bowie: 3D scans will bring the musician's costumes and personal items into the virtual sphere, allowing viewers to examine them up close, and possibly in the case of the outfits, try them on.

"These new digital versions of ‘David Bowie is’ will add unprecedented depth and intimacy to the exhibition experience, allowing the viewer to engage with the work of one of the world’s most popular and influential artists as never before," the announcement of the project reads. "Both the visual richness of this show and the visionary nature of Bowie and his art makes this a particularly ideal candidate for a VR/AR adaptation."

"David Bowie is Virtual" will be released for smartphones and all major VR and AR platforms sometimes this fall. Like the museum exhibition, it will come with an admission price, with a portion of the proceeds going toward the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Brooklyn Museum.

[h/t engadget]


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