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It’s 1984 when Prince releases his sixth studio album Purple Rain. The album would later become one of the best-selling records of that year. Tipper Gore, who was married to former Vice President of the United States Al Gore, buys a copy for her 11-year old daughter Karenna, but is horrified when she hears the lyrics of ‘Darling Nikki’.

 


I knew a girl named Nikki I guess you could say she was a sex fiend,

I met her in a hotel lobby masturbating with a magazine,
She said how’d you like to waste some time

and I could not resist when I saw little Nikki grind

 

The Filthy Fifteen list

Tipper Gore and a bunch of other worried moms formed the committee called ”the Parents Music Resource Center” (PMRC). Together they made a list of what they called ‘The Filthy Fifteen’. The Filthy Fifteen list consisted of fifteen songs (including Madonna, AC/DC and Black Sabbath) with vulgair lyrics that were not suitable for children. The PMRC created a new rating system and demanded that the record labels would place warning labels on the covers of albums, mainly targetting metal, rock, hiphop and punk artists.

The birth of the Parental Adivsory label

The music industry was afraid that sellers would boycott the rated albums and that sales would plummet. Several artists (including Dee Snider from the Twisted Sisters and Frank Zappa) were forced to testify in a hearing on the ‘Contents of Music and the Lyrics of Records’. During the hearing they had to explain the lyrics of their own ‘explicit’ songs to the United States Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. After two months, all parties reached a settlement and the “Parental Advisory / Explicit Lyrics” warning label was born.

And in the end…

And what happened to the warning label on Prince’s album Purple Rain? Well, as of now the lyrics are not as shocking as they were in the 80s, so the warning label has vanished from the cover! Want to hear more stories about ‘The Artist’? Listen to the We Speak Music Fan Podcast (Dutch)!

 

True Story

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