The Beastie Boys were always extremely clear about their intent to fight for their right to party – but back in the ‘80s, Jacksonville’s city council didn’t get the memo.
It was 1987, to be precise, when the council enacted an ordinance that would allow them to place “for mature audiences only” warnings on tickets and fliers for shows by artists whose material they found objectionable.
While the ordinance didn’t name names, it was a reactionary move largely driven by parental outrage over a previous concert by the Beastie Boys at which the group brought out a 20-foot inflatable penis, one member mooned the crowd, and members encouraged female fans to take off their shirts.
When the group was set to return to Jax to play the Coliseum as part of their Licensed to Ill tour, the council enacted that ordinance for the first time.
The group didn’t take too kindly to the city’s decision. Less than a week before the concert, attorneys for the Beastie Boys challenged the city ordinance in court, claiming it to be unconstitutional.
Two days before the concert, a U.S. district judge issued a temporary order forcing the city to immediately remove their warning.
The concert went on as scheduled, drawing a crowd of 5,000. But that wasn’t the end of the legal battle.
Following the show, the city and the Beastie Boys went back to court. This time, the city ordinance was struck down permanently. In addition, the city was ordered to pay the group $1,000, along with reimbursing their legal fees.
It’s definitely one of the most bizarre legal entanglements in the city’s history.