BBC wouldn't let Rod Stewart perform a beloved Irish ballad because of its 'anti-English overtones'
Inspired by the 1916 rising, the BBC weren't having it.
Rod Stewart was a guest on BBC Radio 2 on Friday morning as he chatted with Chris Evans about his 30th studio album, Blood Red Roses.
Aside from this chat about his next record, the former Faces singer talked about the great honour he felt after being knighted and he performed a new single called 'Look in Her Eyes'.
Stewart, however, revealed in an interview with Billboard that he wasn't very happy with the BBC as, ahead of his appearance with Evans, he was told that he wasn't going to be allowed sing a song he had wanted to perform, the Irish ballad 'Grace'.
As you may know, that song depicts the life and tragic romance between Grace Evelyn Gifford Plunkett and Joseph Plunkett.
Grace Plunkett was an Irish artist and cartoonist who was active in the Republican movement. She married her fiancé, Joseph Plunkett, in Kilmainham Gaol. A few hours after they were married, Joseph was executed for his part in the 1916 Easter Rising.
This doomed romance was immortalised in a song written in 1985 by Frank and Seán O'Meara and since then, the song was adopted by the Green Brigade, a group of Celtic supporters, who have made it their own.
During the interview with Billboard, Stewart said that he wasn't allowed to perform Grace during his most recent visit to the BBC.
"Also, they won’t let me sing 'Grace' because of its Irish, anti-English overtones in the song. Forget about it, it’s one of the greatest love songs ever written. The guy goes to his death 15 minutes the next morning after he’s been married and I can’t sing that one either," he said.
When asked to explain his personal connection to the Irish ballad, Stewart said: "Celtic is the football team I support, and Celtic was formed by an Irishman in Glasgow in 1888 to raise money for the Irish to come over after the Potato Famine, so I heard the Celtic supporters singing it about three years ago."
Despite this setback, it's clear that the song means an awful lot to the Scottish singer. In fact, he even visited Kilmainham Gaol to get a fuller appreciation of its significance and history.
"Oh yeah. I went over to Dublin and did my homework. I visited the jail and went into the chapel where it all happened," he said.
"So it means a lot to me, that one, it really does. There was no furniture in the jail apart from the bed of jail, no table, no bed, no chair, nothing. Just sat on the floor, and the glass that was there when I visited wasn’t there in those days, so the wind and the snow came straight into the cell. Man’s inhumanity to man never stops to astonish me."
Stewart might not have been allowed to perform it by the BBC, but we're certain that 'Grace' will be lapped up by the Irish audience when he comes to play in Cork next year.
Update: The BBC have released the following statement regarding Stewart's interview with Billboard: "This story is categorically untrue. No songs are banned on the BBC. All songs performed live on the BBC Radio 2 Breakfast Show are agreed with the artist.”