On December 17,1977, Costello and his band The Attractions were booked to appear on the late night sketch show. They performed ‘Watching The Detectives’ and a few bars of ‘Less Than Zero’, a song his record label wanted him to perform, before making a swift decision to switch up the setlist.
“I’m sorry, ladies and gentlemen, but there’s no reason to do this song here,” Costello told the audience before opting instead to play ‘Radio, Radio’, a song which criticised the commercialisation of broadcasting.
It was because of this switch up and failing to communicate the change to longtime Saturday Night Live producer Lorne Michaels that led Costello to being banned from the show until 1989.
“We did end up on Saturday Night Live,” he said. “And I just wanted them to remember us. I didn’t really have anything against the show. I was more pissed off at being told what to play by the record company than I was NBC, truthfully.
He added: “I can’t remember whether I said what I was going to do, but I think I just said, ‘Watch me.’”
Costello has previously claimed he copied the onstage stunt from Jimi Hendrix, who halted his band midway through a performance of ‘Hey Joe’ to play a surprise rendition of ‘Sunshine Of Your Love’ during a Cream tribute on Lulu‘s BBC show in 1969.
‘No Flag’, which is the second track from Costello’s album, has been re-versioned largely in French by the punk legend.
Costello said in a recent Musician on Musicians interview with Iggy for Rolling Stone that the original ‘No Flag’ was a nod to Iggy And The Stooges’ 1969 classic ‘No Fun’.