The 25 Most Important Civil Rights Moments in Music History

Harry Belafonte and Petula Clark "Touch" on National Television

Date: April 2, 1968

Most widely known for his classic "The Banana Boat Song (Day-O)," legendary calypso singer Harry Belafonte made real history outside the studio by investing his own personal funds into the Civil Rights Movement, bankrolling organizations, financing the Freedom Rides and famously bailing Martin Luther King, Jr., out of prison. But his career's most controversial moment came during a 1968 television special, when Belafonte performed an anti-war duet with Petula Clark. Toward the end of the number, Clark walked toward Belafonte and grabbed hold of his bicep, and held it throughout the remainder of the song. A rep from Chrysler, the program's sponsor, pushed to have the take removed from the special, concerned that a black man and white woman touching each other on television would offend Americans. Clark and her husband (who executive produced the special) refused to alter the segment in any way, and pre-show chatter about "the touch" only boosted ratings.

Stay Connected with
Complex Music
blog comments powered by Disqus