“It was great,” Ving remembers. “Apparently everyone has a problem with the censors at SNL. We had nothing to do with the expletive uttered by an audience member. John had called some of friends of his from Washington, D.C., and said, ‘Would you come to New York to be in the audience for Fear?’ He wanted 15 to 20 people, but they stopped in Baltimore and Philly before they got to New York and arrived with 35, 45 people. It was members of punk-rock bands so it was an actual punk-rock audience.
“The real audience at Saturday Night Live was scared to death,” he continues. “They didn’t know what was happening with all the mayhem. The camera people were trying to protect their cameras. Dick Ebersol, who was stage manager, got hit in the chest with a pumpkin. It smashed all over his shirt. As we finish ‘Let’s Have a War,’ one of the kids grabs the microphone, stuck it in his mouth and screamed, ‘Fuck New York!’ And the main NBC guy was at home watching with his wife and freaked out, calling the station saying, ‘Go to stock footage. Cut, cut, cut.’ They swore that night they’d never rebroadcast our footage. As a result, I have become one of the esteemed members of the permanently banned.”
Although the show’s producers have since allowed the footage to air, in truncated form, Ving is still miffed at the way they’ve been treated. “It was shortsighted of the Saturday Night Live staff and ownership to dis-include the performance in their anniversary episodes,” he says. “It has to be looked at as historical footage, which it is. They seem to be overlooking the fact and losing the sense of humor about the whole idea. I had a sense of humor at the whole idea of starting Fear. It was extremely humorous to me, and I think John saw that humor. That’s what attracted him to the whole idea, but there are those who have their finger on the ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ buttons at SNL that did not have that sense of humor.”
Belushi died of an overdose of cocaine and heroin in March of the following year, crushing the singer’s spirits. “It was such a tragedy,” Ving says. “And it could have happened to any of us at that time. It was an extremely bad luck turn of events; it was nobody’s plan and nobody’s fault. Not even the girl who administered it. It’s just a tragedy with a capital ‘T.'”