4 Bands/Artists Who Were Banned from Touring the U.S.

Touring is a necessity when you’re a band. It’s a major income source, perhaps even bigger than selling albums. Indeed, selling tickets and merchandise to fans at shows is a way that bands can bring in a lot of dough. Not to mention the added bonus of gaining new fans when an act goes from city to city to play, to do interviews and to enjoy some word-of-mouth advertising.

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But over the years, touring has been cut off from some bands in the U.S., which is, of course, one of the most lucrative regions to set up shop and spread your sonic gospel. Here below, we will dive into four such situations with some of the biggest names in the game.

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The Kinks

Part of the British Invasion in the 1960s during which many UK bands took the United States by storm (most famously, The Beatles), The Kinks didn’t enjoy a long stay on American soil. Thanks to their reputation as rowdy and rambunctious both onstage and off, the band was barred from touring America at the height of its success in the mid-to-late ’60s. The American Federation of Musicians would not grant the band work permits for touring on U.S. soil because of infighting and one TV appearance when a band member assaulted a staffer. The ban, which lasted from 1965 through 1969, cost them a great deal of money and a big hit to their fame.

Cat Stevens (aka Yusuf Islam)

In 2004, Yusuf Islam was placed on a no-fly list and barred from entering America. The reason, said U.S. Homeland Security Department officials, was because of “activities that could potentially be related to terrorism. Incredibly, Islam was already on a plane when his name was flagged, as he was flying from London to Washington to meet country star Dolly Parton, who was set to include him on her upcoming album. His flight was then diverted to Maine where he was detained. The next day he was flown back to the UK. Islam had also been deported from Israel in 2000 on allegations he supported Hamas, but he denied doing so knowingly. Islam was later allowed back into the U.S. in 2006. And he recorded a song about it in 2008 with Parton and Paul McCartney called “Boots and Sand.”

Boy George

In a perhaps a more serious circumstance, singer Boy George was banned from entering America in 2008 after he was arrested in the UK on allegations of assaulting and imprisoning Audun Carlsen, a Norwegian model and male escort—though George denied the allegations. The singer was already dealing with arrests in the United States, which didn’t help his cause. He was found guilty of the UK charges and sentenced to over a year in prison, though he only served four months. He wouldn’t return to America until 2014, when he resumed touring.

Pete Doherty

The Libertines frontman Peter Doherty, known for both his music and drug abuse, was banned from entering the U.S. in 2010. He had been slated to play a set with Sean Lennon (John’s son) for the launch of the magazine Corduroy, but he never made it through John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City. Instead, immigration officials, citing his issues with substance abuse and subsequent convictions in the UK, sent him back to London. Today, he is still not allowed in the country, despite The Libertines wanting to make inroads in America.

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