The first televised 'fuck' is a celebrated moment in social and cultural history (November 13 1965, Kenneth Tynan, "I doubt if there are any rational people to whom the word "fuck" would be particularly diabolical, revolting or totally forbidden.")
Was there an equivalent taboo-shattering moment in rock music? Obviously pop 'fucks' are ten a penny these days. Radio stations hardly bother to bleep them out. But who was first? You would think that a medium that makes such a fetishish of rebellion would be able to point proudly to the first recorded 'fuck'. But apparently not.
In the late Seventies, John Cooper Clarke had a poem called Evidently Chickentown that, live, went (from memory):
"The fucking cops are fucking keen
They fucking keep it fucking clean
The fucking chief's a fucking swine
He fucking draws the fucking line
The fucking kids he fucking blames
The fucking fun and fucking games
Are nowhere to be fucking found
Anywhere in Chickentown"
Clarke was highlighting the banality of repeated obscenities but when he came to record Chickentown in 1980, he had to change all the fucks to bloodys, which spoilt his poem and undermined his point. This kind of censorship was fairly common in those days and record execs commonly used the excuse that they were sparing the feelings of 'the ladies in the pressing plant' (rather than of the humourless City suits who sat on their boards).
There was the odd 'fuck' in the punk repertoire (though not as many as you might have expected) but what about earlier?
In the mid 60s, Country Joe and the Fish used to begin a number with a chant of "give us an F, give us an I, give us an S, give us an H" which over time mutated into "Give us an F...U...C...K": but was that live or was it ever recorded?
Similarly the MC5 used to scream "Kick out the jams, motherfuckers" at gigs but on record it became "brothers and sisters". I have a feeling that I've heard a live recording of the Door's The End in which Jim Morrison announces "Mother, I'm going to fuck you" but on record you hear "Mother, I'm going to..." followed by some incoherent screams.
So much for the 60s rebels. I'd like to think that pop music was pushing back the bounds of obscenity long before a foppish drama critic on the BBC, but I'm struggling. Back in the 50s was there a foul-mouthed bluesman or proto-rocker who committed the F-word to vinyl? If so, it's time he got the recognition he deserves.