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Music Group, Aclu Join Forces In Lyric Battle

September 16, 1985|DENNIS MCDOUGAL | Times Staff Writer

Hollywood publicists will join forces with the American Civil Liberties Union this week in an attempt to stop a Washington wives group from carrying the battle over off-color rock music to Capitol Hill.

A coalition of managers, booking agents, publicists, radio-station executives and a handful of rock recording artists has declared itself the Musical Majority, according to publicist Mitchell Schneider. With a stated purpose of opposing "all proposals for rating records, songs or concerts," the group offers the first organized counterforce to the highly publicized Parents' Music Resource Center, founded by the spouses of Sen. Albert Gore Jr. (D-Tenn.) and Treasury Secretary James A. Baker III.

Rosa Martinez of the Los Angeles office of the ACLU, confirmed that ACLU Executive Director Ira Glasser will join the Musical Majority at scheduled Senate Commerce Committee hearings Thursday in Washington to discuss allegedly pornographic rock lyrics.

"This has gone far enough," said Schneider, publicist for Sheena Easton, one of the Washington wives' most frequently cited targets. "There's more sex on soap operas each afternoon on TV then there is in song lyrics."

The Musical Majority is headed by Kiss manager Danny Goldberg and claims several prominent rock stars, including John Cougar Mellencamp, Billy Squier, Daryl Hall and John Oates.

Their opponents have whipped the issue of sex, Satan and sadism in rock music into a firestorm of national controversy during the past week.

Besides occupying the cover of People magazine, the question of whether to rate record albums' sexual or violent lyrical content, or perhaps even impose censorship on pornographic lyrics, has been the single hottest topic on TV and radio talk shows. Everyone from Wally George to Larry King to Ted Koppel has focused on it.

As founding vice presidents of the wives' group, Tipper Gore and Susan Baker have been preaching the anti-porn gospel since they formed the group three months ago. The Recording Industry Assn. of America tried to head off a major confrontation by proposing voluntary warnings that record companies might print on album covers containing offending lyrics.

Last week, at the annual convention of the National Assn. of Broadcasters and the National Radio Broadcasters Assn. in Dallas, Gore was given a platform for her emotional message. She debated Recording Industry Assn. of America president Stanley Gortikov on the subject of lurid lyrics. When it was over, the groups seemed farther apart than ever before on how and when to label or rate records.

With the addition of the Musical Majority to the mix, the divisiveness seems to have gone even further.

"With all respect to the RIAA," said Musical Majority chairman Goldberg, "I've been in the business for 15 years and I've never met anyone from there (the Recording Industry Assn. of America), and I've talked to a cross section of some of the leading figures in our business and we're sick and tired of every extremist nut that wants to get their name in the paper using rock and roll as a whipping boy."

He said his organization will act as a public-relations organization, "expressing the point of view of this large cross section of music business leaders" and encouraging rock fans to write their Representatives to oppose any government interference in music.

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