In 1971 Los Angeles television station KTTV refused to air this 60 second commercial for Captain Beefheart’s album Lick My Decals Off, Baby.
Conceived by Beefheart and directed by Larry Secrest and Jon Fizdali, the ad was considered to be ‘crude and unacceptable” by KTTV management. They also deemed the album obscene and refused to air the spot on that basis as well.
The National Association of Broadcasters banned the ad on their member stations, stating the commercial didn’t fit into their standards, which were to…
[...] enlarge the horizons of the viewer, provide him with wholesome entertainment, afford helpful stimulation, and remind him of the responsibilities which the citizen has towards his society.
Beefheart’s record label, Warner/Reprise, stood by the Captain and declared the spot…
[...] really different, it does everything a commercial is supposed to do. It begins with a cigarette flipping through the air in slow motion several times with Beefheart singing ‘Woe-is-a-me-bop.’ There are long silences, Beefheart finally appears doing his famed Hand and Toe Investment. Rockette Morton, one of the guys in Beefheart’s Magic Band, crosses the screen with a black sack over his head working an egg beater. The Captain kicks over a bowl of white paint in slow motion. It is non sequitur stuff that’s funny, attention getting, and pure Beefheart. It’s unfortunate that the station should be so frightened by it.”
In watching the commercial, one has to think that David Lynch had to have seen it at one point in his early development as a filmmaker. It’s a bold and surreal piece of film making that would have certainly baffled and spooked American audiences of the time. It’s still provocative.