Banned in the USSR: Why Moscow silenced 'violent' Village People

The 2012 line-up of The Village People.
The 2012 line-up of The Village People.

With tracks from Donna Summer, Kiss and Julio Iglesias, it's hardly a politically-charged collection.

But, for paranoid officials in Moscow, the tunes were too dangerous for Soviet ears. The "ideologically harmful compositions" were put on a secret blacklist along with Tina Turner, Madness and The Village People.

The list, which was put together by the Communist Party's youth wing, was distributed to bureaucrats in January 1985, two months before Mikhail Gorbachev ascended to the premiership.

It includes a wide range of reasons used to justify the banning of Western artists. Iglesias, known for his inoffensive ballads and love songs, was branded a 'neo-fascist',
Miss Summer's disco tunes had too much 'eroticism' and The Village People were thought to be too 'violent'.

British singer Alison Moyet was also banned for apparent violence as well as for being a punk.

Banning the artists only helped to make them more popular in Russia, according to Alexei Yurchak, who unearthed the blacklist.

"The measures proposed to curb the spread of Western music helped to create the conditions that enabled its further expansion," said the assistant professor of anthropology at the University of California.

Andrei Rogatchevski, a lecturer in Russian studies at Glasgow University, said: "The authorities didn't like references to sex because they disliked any emotions they could not control.

"They didn't like violent lyrics because they might disturb Soviet order. And, as for any reference to fascism, that caused the deaths of millions of people."

The list of forbidden musicians followed decades of cultural repression behind the Iron Curtain.

There was mass destruction of pre-revolutionary and foreign books that were deemed politically offensive and notables who fell out of favour with the regime were routinely removed from texts and images.

However, this repression led to an underground market for forbidden materials that was
never entirely stamped out.

- Daily Mail

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