1 January

Pick a Day

Music History Events: Protests

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April 8, 2016 Bruce Springsteen cancels an upcoming show in Greensboro, North Carolina, in protest of a state law limiting the rights of transgender people. "Some things are more important than a rock show and this fight against prejudice and bigotry - which is happening as I write - is one of them," he writes. Pearl Jam follows suit, bowing out of a show in Raleigh.

July 26, 2015 The first Black Lives Matter conference at Cleveland State University turns into a protest with activists chanting the chorus of Kendrick Lamar's "Alright" in defiance of police harassment.More

October 1, 2000 Australian rock band Midnight Oil play their hit "Beds Are Burning" at the closing ceremony of the Summer Olympics in Sydney. Their black outfits are emblazoned with the word "sorry," a symbolic olive branch towards the Aboriginals who were forced from their lands by a government that refuses to apologize.More

February 19, 1996 During Michael Jackson's performance of "Earth Song" at the 1996 BRIT Awards, Jarvis Cocker of the band Pulp jumps on stage and makes demeaning gestures toward Jackson. Cocker says he did it because Jackson was "pretending to be Jesus."More

February 20, 1991 Public Enemy and Sinead O'Connor are nominated for Grammy Awards, but skip the ceremony: PE has beef because the rap award isn't televised; Sinead says they "respect mostly material gain." She wins anyway, taking the trophy for Best Alternative Music Performance for her album I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got.More

June 12, 1982 As part of the "No Nukes" movement during the Cold War, the largest political rally in US history takes place when about 750,000 people go to New York's Central Park for the Rally for Nuclear Disarmament, which features performances by Bruce Springsteen, Jackson Browne, James Taylor, Linda Ronstadt, and Gary "U.S." Bonds.More

June 6, 1982 The "Peace Sunday: We Have a Dream" concert takes place in Los Angeles, featuring Tom Petty, Stevie Nicks, Bob Dylan, Jackson Browne and Stevie Wonder. 85,000 attend the show, which supports nuclear disarmament.

September 23, 1979 The crowd chants, "Hell No, We Won't Glow" at a massive 5-hour anti-nuke rally in New York City's Battery Park, where Crosby, Stills & Nash, Jackson Browne and Bonnie Raitt are among the performers.More

September 21, 1979 Bruce Springsteen debuts his song "The River" at a show in Madison Square Garden. He is performing as part of Musicians United For Safe Energy (MUSE) in a protest against nuclear power. Other artists that go on before him have to contend with the constant droning of "Broooooooooooooce," as he's the main attraction. Bonnie Raitt doesn't figure out until after her set that the crowd was not booing her, just anticipating Springsteen's performance.

September 19, 1979 James Taylor, Jackson Browne, The Doobie Brothers, Graham Nash and Bonnie Raitt perform at Madison Square Garden for the first of five "no nukes" concerts.More

June 7, 1977 The Sex Pistols make a mockery of Queen Elizabeth II's Silver Jubilee by playing punk rock from a boat on the Thames River, including their subversive hit, "Anarchy in the U.K."

August 30, 1976 The Notting Hill riots take place as black youth clash with police at the Notting Hill Carnival in England. Members of The Clash are present, and the event inspires them to write "White Riot" as a call for white people to protest with the same furor.More

May 2, 1971 It's day two of the Mayday protests, as demonstrators fed up with the war in Vietnam try to shut down the US government by blocking off streets and bridges in Washington, DC. Thousands of arrests are made, many to bystanders who have nothing to do with the protest. At the foot of the Washington Monument, where much of the action is taking place, Jonathan Edwards performs his new song, "Sunshine." As the arrests continue, he plays the song over and over, "because there's no better song for the soundtrack of that movie."

May 4, 1970 Later memorialized in the Neil Young song "Ohio," the United States National Guard fires on protesters at Kent State University in Ohio, killing four students, two of whom weren't even protesting. This shameful event in American history leads to the formation of Devo, as Mark Mothersbaugh and Jerry Casale are both on campus and horrified by the events.More

December 15, 1969 John Lennon and Yoko Ono launch the "War Is Over" campaign with billboards declaring peace around the world.More

September 29, 1969 Merle Haggard releases "Okie From Muskogee," a song that protests Vietnam war protesters. The single goes on to reach #1 on the Country chart and #43 on the Billboard Hot 100.

June 1, 1969 John Lennon and Yoko Ono record "Give Peace A Chance" to close out their "bed-in" in Montreal.More

March 17, 1968 Mick Jagger joins a demonstration at Grosvenor Square in London to protest the Vietnam War. When the group, estimated at 25,000, marches to the American embassy, they are met with police resistance and rioting ensues. Jagger leaves the protest before it reaches the embassy, but uses the events as inspiration for the Rolling Stones song "Street Fighting Man."

May 12, 1963 Bob Dylan refuses to appear on The Ed Sullivan Show when they won't let him play "Talkin' John Birch Society Blues."More

September 2, 2008 Rage Against The Machine, in Minneapolis to protest the Republican National Convention, are blocked by police, who refuse to let them perform. Rage goes into the crowd and does two songs using a megaphone; riots ensue.

June 4, 2002 Wyclef Jean is one of ten people arrested for disorderly conduct in a New York rally protesting cuts to education. Jean is arrested and led away in handcuffs following an attempt to perform, which was forbidden by the event's permit. Puff Daddy, Alicia Keys, Jay-Z, LL Cool J, Erykah Badu, Foxy Brown and Wu-Tang Clan were also at the rally to show their support and protest a proposed $1.2 billion cut to New York's public education system.

July 25, 2001 The Doors' John Densmore, Bonnie Raitt, and others are arrested in Itasca, Illinois, for demonstrating against a company which they claim destroys the rainforest.

March 10, 2000 Chrissie Hynde (of The Pretenders) leads an animal rights rally at a GAP store in Manhattan protesting the chain's sale of "illegally and cruelly" obtained leather products.

September 23, 1986 Freddie Jackson, James Brown and Melba Moore headline an anti-crack rally at New York's Plaza Hotel.

November 25, 1969 As a protest against Britain's military involvement in foreign conflicts, John Lennon returns his MBE (Member of the British Empire) medal, with an attached letter that reads, puckishly, "Your Majesty, I am returning this MBE in protest against Britain's involvement in the Nigeria-Biafra thing, against our support of America in Vietnam, and against 'Cold Turkey' slipping down the charts. With love, John Lennon of Bag."

June 5, 1969 Donovan and Joan Baez perform at a rally for nuclear disarmament in London.

June 4, 1969 Hundreds of people in Glenrowan, Australia, sign a petition protesting against the casting of Mick Jagger in the role of the Australian folk hero Ned Kelly for the film of the same name. Jagger plays the part anyway.

May 26, 1969 Still on their honeymoon, John Lennon and Yoko Ono check in to the Queen Elizabeth Hotel (the "Hotel La Reine") in Montreal, where they start their second week-long "bed-in" for peace. At the end of their stay, they record "Give Peace A Chance" with a chorus that includes Timothy Leary, Tommy Smothers and Dick Gregory.

March 25, 1969 John & Yoko's week-long Bed-In for Peace begins in The Netherlands.

March 23, 1969 Countering the counter-culture, about 30,000 people attend the "Rally For Decency" in Miami after Jim Morrison was charged with indecent exposure in the city. Celebrities at the event included Kate Smith, Jackie Gleason, The Lettermen and Anita Bryant.

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