A short history on the use of the F-bomb in music

[I got bored constantly writing about COVID-19 for GlobalNews.ca. So I wrote this for them. -AC]

It was somewhere around 8:30 on the evening of Sept. 7, 1977, when my young ears first heard an F-bomb sung by a rock star.

Max Webster, led by Kim Mitchell, was opening for Rush on the Farewell to Kings tour. Before launching into a song called Oh, War from the High Class in Borrowed Shoes album, Mitchell warned the crowd: “This song has a dirty word in it.” And sure enough, each time the chorus came around, there was F-bombing.

“Is he allowed to do that?” I thought.

I’d been aware of swearing on record ever since my Aunt Olga bought me Johnny Cash’s At San Quentin album sometime around 1970. Something bad was said, but it was bleeped out on the record.

But Webster’s performance was a revelation. Did other people use the filthiest of F-words in their music?

Turns out they did. And thus began my strange fascination with this obscure corner of rock music history.

Keep reading.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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