Johnnie Ray Banned

Johnnie Ray Banned

Johnnie Ray Banned

May 8, 1954

BBC Bans Ray’s “Such a Night”

Johnnie Ray Banned

Even though rock music was just learning to walk in 1954, we could see its future youthful swagger.

Johnnie Ray Banned


Lincoln Chase wrote “Such a Night” in 1953. The Drifters, with Clyde McPhatter, released it in January 1954. It was a hit despite its “racy” lyrics. At least that’s what some listeners thought.

It was a night, ooo what a night it was
   It really was, such a night
   The moon was bright ooo how bright it was
   It really was, such a night
   The night was alive with stars above
   And when she kissed me I had to fall in love

It was a kiss mmmm what a kiss it was
   It really was, such a kiss
   How she could kiss ooo what a kiss it was
   It really was, such a kiss
   Just part of her lips that sets me on fire
   I reminisce and I feel desire

I'd give my heart to her in sweet surrender
   How well I remember , I'll always remember
   Ooo that night, ooo what a night it was
   It really was, such a night
   Came the dawn and my heart and my love and the night was gone
   But I'll never forget that kiss in the moonlight
   Ooo such a kiss, ooo such a night

Now she's gone, gone gone
   Yes she's gone, gone gone
   Came the dawn, dawn dawn
   And the night was gone
   And my heart was gone
   And her love was gone
   But before the dawn oo oo oo oo such a night 

The Drifters had a hit despite the fear, but as often happened in early rock, Johnnie Ray, an American white singer, covered the song the same year. He too ran into issues with the lyrics, On this day, May 8, 1954, the BBC radio banned the song after listener complaints.

Johnnie Ray Banned

Johnnie Ray

Johnnie Ray had first become a sensation with a two-sided-hit that reached No. 1 on the pop charts. The record, ”Cry” backed by ”The Little White Cloud That Cried.” It sold more than two million copies.

Ray continued to have hits during the 50s and was particularly popular in Great Britain. According to a 1981 New York Times article stated that, “…it was his [Rays’] rhythm and blues style of singing that help lay the groundwork for the rock-and-roll that turned Mr. Ray’s entertainment world around. Recently, Ringo Starr of the Beatles pointed out that the three singers that the Beatles listened to in their fledgling days were Chuck Berry, Little Richard and Johnnie Ray.” 

Johnnie Ray Banned

Ridicule as well as popularity

Johnnie Ray died on February 24, 1990.  He was 63 years old. His animated showmanship had been both a boon and a curse to his career. Again the New York Times, “His mannerisms earned him ridicule as well as popularity, and he was a favorite subject of impersonators.

Johnnie Ray Banned
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