1980’s Western Rock & Pop Stars Banned In Russia

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In 1985, Moscow was facing what in their eyes was an indirect assault upon Russian/Soviet values and culture by the American recording industry. According to a factual, yet humorous Spin article, a list of Soviet Union-Era banned recording acts has just been released to the public for the first time. Of concern was ”violent,’ ‘fascist,’ ‘racist,’ and overly ‘erotic’ music.”


The translated list is from Alexei Yurchak’s new book, Everything Was Forever, Until It Was No More. and was originally produced by Komsomol, the Youth Wing of the Communist Party, who also advised “We recommend using these findings to more strongly control what happens in discoteks.”

The list has an interesting and varied list of acts and explanations on why these acts were banned at the time. It includes the sexy voices of Donna Summer, Julio Iglesias and Tina Turner, an addition to Talking Heads, the more obvious rebellious music of AC/DC and Black Sabbath plus many more. The list has some direct reasons listed as simply put “sex” and “violence” to more broadly reaching as to Donna Summer’s “eroticism”, Talking Heads’ “Myth of Soviet military danger” or Pink Floyd’s “Interfering with the Foreign Policy of USSR (Afghanistan).”

Curiously, Komsomol, despite the political reasoning, may be inadvertently also been harbingers of good taste. Numerous acts on the list are now regarded as having been awful. Russian discos and pop music today, with perhaps the exclusion of Pussy Riot, are a bastion of free speech, lampooning and political criticism. Here are three contemporary Russia pop videos to watch:

Leningrad – Crazy Cool Pants

Boris Grenshenikov – This Train’s On Fire

TaTu – Not Gonna Get Us

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Russia Briefing is written by Dezan Shira & Associates. The firm has 28 offices throughout Eurasia, including China, Russia, India, and the ASEAN nations, assisting foreign investors into the Eurasian region. Through our membership of the Leading Edge Alliance, we also have partner firms throughout Africa and have numerous Russian and African clients. For enquiries  please contact us at russia@dezshira.com or visit us at www.dezshira.com

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