25th Anniversary of the PMRC Hearings_Featured_, Politics Saturday, November 27th, 2010
Founded in May 1984 by Tipper Gore, wife of then Senator Al Gore, and an all star cast of Washington wives – the Parents Music Resource Committee was formed. This took place amidst the growing awareness of AIDS, the Strategic Defense Initiative a.k.a. Star Wars (the atomic clock at three minutes to midnight), an American CIA proxy war between the Contras and Santanistas in South America, and a Hezbollah hijacking of a TWA flight, but the wives of prominent politicians decided the source of problems in the U.S. originate from explicit lyrics or innuendo in pop and rock music.
The PMRC began when Tipper bought Prince’s Purple Rain album for her 12 year old daughter and heard the song “Darling Nikki” in which she heard the lyrics, “I knew a girl named Nikki, I guess you could say she was a sex fiend/ I met her in a hotel lobby masturbating with a magazine.” Tipper was so offended by this and by the fact she felt there was no way to know that the album had offensive material and that prompted her to start the PMRC in May, 2004.
Opposition to the movement came from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). They were opposed to being forced to put stickers on record albums stating profane or sexually explicit, occult, drugs/alcohol, or violent. Frank Zappa, John Denver, and Dee Snyder also were the most outspoken artists against the PMRC movement saying that it breached the first amendment and was censorship.
The PMRC created the “Filthy Fifteen” which ranged from ”She Bop” from Cyndi Lauper and ”Dress You Up” from Madonna to “High N’ Dry” by Def Leppard and “We’re Not Gonna Take It” by Twisted Sister. Al Gore, less focused on global warming, had Dee Snyder in the hot seat accusing him of writing lyrics about sadomasochism in “Under The Blade” but he actually wrote the song about his friend having to go under surgery which left Mr. Gore embarassed.
The RIAA gave in and volunteered to put the “Tipper Stickers” on the albums but the labels created more of a desire and increased sales. Frank Zappa’s “Jazz from Hell” was the first instrumental album to get a warning label. Ice T and N.W.A. got a boom to their record sales. Brett Michaels, Nikki Sixx, and Frankie Banali all agreed that the labels ultimately resulted in more curiosity and better sales for albums that bore the labels.