FEAR performance on SNL (October 1981)

This is the legendary appearance by the hardcore punk band Fear on Saturday Night Live for the Halloween episode in October 1981. Fear were hired at the behest of John Belushi, who was a huge fan of Fear’s, and Michael O’Donoghue, that season’s head writer. Producer Dick Ebersol asked O’Donoghue what Fear was like and the infamous Mr. Mike explained that they were a pop group, just like the Carpenters. What resulted is mayhem and underground TV history.

O’Donoghue and Belushi bused in multiple punks from Washington D.C. (including, legend has it, Ian MacKaye).  After being introduced by actor Donald Pleasance, the band started playing and the punks went completely nuts, violently slam dancing and stage diving. During the third song, one of the punks grabbed lead singer Lee Ving’s microphone and either said “F–k you New York” or “New Your sucks!” The scene faded to black and transitioned to a repeat of the infamous (and funny) satire of Norman Mailer’s sponsorship of Jack Henry Abbott, “Prose and Cons”.

Nowadays, such antics seem corny and quaint. But back when hardcore punk was virtually unknown to the masses, this moment was a sight to behold. One of the all-time best performances by a music guest on SNL.

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