6 Classic Rock Bands that Were Banned from Playing in Asia

When you’re in a foreign land, you have to adhere to their rules. It’s like being a guest in someone else’s home. You don’t throw your shoes certain places and you always make sure to wash your hands. But sometimes things don’t go smoothly. And such is the case even for some of the most famous rock and roll bands and artists of all time.

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Here, we will dive into five examples of when some of the world’s biggest-name acts got in trouble and were subsequently banned from touring in various Asian counties. You might think that bands like Led Zeppelin and artists like Bob Dylan would be immune to banishment, but not even they could avoid it altogether. Let’s dive in below.

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Led Zeppelin in Singapore

Some bands on this list were not allowed in countries due to their own actions. But when it comes to Led Zeppelin, the circumstances are almost too ridiculous to mention. In the 1960s, Singapore created a ban on long hair on men as a way of tamping down hippie culture. For a band like Led Zeppelin this meant they wouldn’t be allowed to step foot in the country, as the group had more locks than Goldilocks. The band even flew into the country in 1972 to perform but they weren’t allowed to get off the jet and were forced to fly back to England.

The Rolling Stones in Japan

While the British band were known for its hit songs, the Rolling Stones were also famous for their drug use. And it’s this fact that kept the band out of Japan until 1990. The group was not allowed in the country at their height in 1973 due to Mick Jagger’s two drug convictions in 1967 and 1970. But when they finally were allowed in, the band played 10 sold-out shows at the Tokyo Dome, making $30 million in two weeks. Seems like it was all worth the wait.

The Beatles in the Philippines

You’d think The Beatles, the biggest band in the world, would be welcome anywhere and could name the stages they were set to play. But the group was banned from playing in the Philippines after the group unintentionally snubbed the country’s First Lady. That led to locals rebelling against the former Mop Tops, which had to pay back their concert fees and were never invited back. The band had played to two shows in Manila in front of 80,000 fans but when they didn’t acknowledge the First Lady properly, they were sunk.

Bob Dylan in China

Bob Dylan was slated to play shows in Shanghai and Beijing in 2010 but those were cancelled after Chinese authorities raised concerns about his rebellious, even anti-authoritarian songwriting style. (How they weren’t aware of this ahead of time is a head-scratcher). But Dylan was later allowed into the country the next year in 2011 after he granted the country permission to pre-approve his set list.

Bon Jovi in China

In 2015, shows the New Jersey rock band were slated to play in China were cancelled by government officials. While the reason wasn’t officially stated, the BBC reported, it was believed that the “Wanted Dead or Alive” group was cut after Chinese censors found the band had used an image of the Dalai Lama as a backdrop for one of its shows a handful of years prior. The Dalai Lama is the highest spiritual leader of Tibet, a country China occupies.

Oasis in China

The British rock band fronted by brothers Noel and Liam Gallagher are known for their spats and internal infighting. But in 2009 the group was involved in something of a feud with China when the band’s license to play shows in Shanghai and Beijing was revoked. Why? Like other bands, the group’s connection to the Free Tibet movement shut things down after Noel played a gig in 1997 for the small nation along with acts like U2 and Coldplay. A Chinese official claimed the gigs weren’t cancelled due to the Free Tibet association but rather a “tough economic situation.” Oasis later played a show in Hong Kong but their mainland Chinese ban continues.

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