Remember When Slash Claimed to Have Caused TV’s ‘Seven-Second Rule?’
Live TV can be great, except if you're a television censor dealing with one of rock's most outrageous and unpredictable acts making an acceptance speech at an awards show. Back in 1990, Guns N' Roses definitely made an impact on the TV landscape while accepting the Favorite Heavy Metal Artist honor at the American Music Awards. Slash's potty mouth caused a bit of trouble.
The band won early in the evening, with Appetite for Destruction being named Favorite Heavy Metal Album. Slash and Duff McKagan were on hand to accept for the band, but the guitarist let the s-word fly when speaking of his experience at award shows, marking his first infraction of the evening.
Things got a little worse later on when the band bested Aerosmith and Motley Crue for Favorite Heavy Metal Artist, with Slash and Duff thanking a few of their management team but the guitarist dropped a few f-bombs in the process. Slash apologized after catching the first one, but when he did it for the third time, the band's speech was cut short and the cameras cut away to a shot of the venue. Revisit the classic acceptance speech uncensored below, which finds the musicians accepting their honor from Lita Ford and Aaron Neville, courtesy of KRWCO Presents.
Guns N' Roses' Slash and Duff Accept the Favorite Heavy Metal Artist at the 1990 American Music Awards
As expected, ABC, which aired the American Music Awards fielded numerous phone calls about the profanity the next morning. In a 2014 interview with Fuse (seen above), Slash claimed that his infraction led to the creation of the 7-second delay for live broadcast TV events; the delay gives censors enough time to bleep out curse words before they hit the airwaves.
"We were accepting something and we were really, really drunk," Slash recalled to Fuse. "Actually, you know it was the beginning of the 7-second rule."
Slash laughed, "Yeah, that's an honor. Every other word [during the speech] was "Fuck this" and "Fuck that."
Slash may have been unaware that the creation of the delay actually dates back to radio's early days. The broadcast profanity delay was invented by C. Frank Cordero, who was the chief engineer at WKAP AM 1320 in Allentown, Pa., during the 1950s and early 1960s. The station's manager tasked Cordero with coming up with a device to where profanity during a live conversation could be deleted by the host before making it to air and the technology was put to use. So while the delay for broadcasts predates the AMA's incident, Guns N' Roses' profanity-laden acceptance speeches definitely affected the AMA broadcast approach moving forward. The delay was introduced to television in 1975 by NBC, so that Richard Pryor could host Saturday Night Live and the networks could avoid fines if he cursed on the air.
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