4 Big-Name Artists Who Were Banned from Touring Countries Around the World

Sometimes the world can be an unfriendly place—even for some of the biggest-name musicians of all time. While touring is essential to an artist’s livelihood, it can at times be cut off due to legal matters, prejudice or some other reason.

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Here below, we wanted to dive into the stories of four of the world’s most famous artists to show that even they aren’t immune to a locked door or government decree. Indeed, these are four famous artists who were banned from touring countries around the world.

[RELATED: 4 Bands/Artists Who Were Banned from Touring the U.S.]

Elton John (Banned from Egypt)

In 2010, the piano-playing dynamo Elton John gave an interesting—albeit controversial— interview to Parade magazine, saying, in part, “Jesus was a compassionate, super-intelligent gay man.” He also said, “I don’t know what makes people so cruel. Try being a gay woman in the Middle East—you’re as good as dead.” Can you guess what happened next? Some (religious) groups were upset. But more than just upset, officials in Egypt were up in arms. So much so that they cancelled a planned performance from the “Rocket Man” singer and banned him from the country. Its Musician Union head said Egypt would not welcome “a homosexual who wants to ban religions, claimed that the prophet Issa [Jesus] was gay and calls for Middle Eastern countries to allow gays to have sexual freedom.”

Alice Cooper (Australia)

Known for shock rock and elaborate (even gory) stage shows, Alice Cooper is one of the bad boys of rock music. And his reputation preceded him when it came to possible stops in Australia. As far back as 1975, the country’s Labor and Immigration Minister Clyde Cameron said, “I am not going to allow a degenerate who could powerfully influence the young and weak-minded to enter this country and stage this sort of exhibition here.” But thankfully for everyone involve that dictum didn’t last. Cooper eventually began to play shows in the country in 1977 and has since toured there often. More recently in 2020, he helped raise money for wildfire relief. All that pomp and circumstance, it would seem, is now water under the bridge.

Dusty Springfield (South Africa)

Sometimes people are banned for good reasons (like assault charges) and other times people for horrible ones. Dusty Springfield and her ordeal in South Africa falls under the latter category. The “The Look of Love” singer was set to perform in the country in 1964 during the nasty period of apartheid, a government-approved system of racial segregation. But there was a clause in the British artist’s contract that said she would not play to segregated crowds. So when she refused to perform for an all-white audience in Cape Town, the singer was put under house arrest and deported before concluding her tour. Brava, Dusty Springfield!

Frank Sinatra (Mexico)

Not only was he a singer but Frank Sinatra was also an acclaimed actor. And one of his movies, Marriage on the Rocks, which was released in 1965 and deals with divorce in a border town, offended the Mexican government. The country’s officials claimed the film was “clearly offensive and injurious to Mexico” and so Sinatra was banned from entering the region to sing. Just three years prior, Sinatra had performed two concerts in Mexico for underprivileged children. Later, though, he was allowed back into the country, even (ironically) divorcing his then-wife Mia Farrow there in August 1968.

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