Five Famous People Who Have Been Deported: Being Kicked Out of a Country Can Happen to Anyone

Rod Stewart — copyright Helge Øverås — Creative Commons license

Just because you’re famous, or might be one day, it doesn’t mean you can’t get deported. In fact, over the last 50 years, a fair few celebrities or soon-to-be celebrities have been deported from various countries for various reasons.

One for vagrancy in Spain and one for being on a no-fly list and trying to enter the United States. Getting deported sometimes makes sense, and sometimes it’s for a legitimate reason. Other times it’s just plain discrimination.

Rod Stewart – Famous raspy-voiced British singer, Rod Stewart, was deported from Spain during his early career in 1963. He was doing a low-budget tour of Europe with folk singer Wizz Jones and, because they had no money, both spent much of their time sleeping under bridges and in fields.

In Barcelona, Stewart was sleeping under a bridge when he was arrested by Spanish police and subsequently deported for vagrancy. So much for his European tour. Bless him.


Cat Stevens – Another famous British musician, Cat Stevens, was deported from the United States in 2004 after he entered the country to do a music project with Dolly Parton. Stevens had converted to Islam years before and changed his name to Yusuf Islam.

He was stopped coming into the United States as his name appeared on a no-fly list. Turns out Israel had also deported him in 2000 for supposedly giving money to the Palestinian group, Hamas.

Cat Stevens (Yusuf Islam) had always denied he’d given money to Hamas and, as it turned out, he was likely telling the truth.

When he was deported from the US, the British Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, complained to the US and, two years later, Cat Stevens name was taken off the list and he was allowed to enter the United States. A bit of a case of lies from Israel and anti-Muslim discrimination it seems.

George Harrison – Ex-Beatle George Harrison is another British singer (notice a pattern here?) who was also deported. In 1960, Harrison was playing with The Beatles in Hamburg, Germany, and was deported from Germany for being under-age. He was 17 at the time.


Being deported certainly didn’t do much damage to Harrison’s career however, did it. Only a few years later, George Harrison, along with the other members of The Beatles, was one of the most famous musicians of all-time.

Gary Glitter – Alright, so he’s British too! Gary Glitter is a rock musician, famous in the 1970s and 80s for songs like “Do You Wanna Touch” and “Leader of the Gang (I Am)”. Gary Glitter was arrested and jailed in the United Kingdom in 1999 for being in possession of child pornography.

Several years later, he moved to Cambodia, where he was pressured by the government to leave as they didn’t want more of a taint than the country already had for child pornography issues. He was finally arrested, jailed and then deported to Thailand without any evidence he’d done anything wrong.

Glitter then moved to Vietnam, where a couple of years later, he was arrested for having sex with a minor and spent time in jail. Upon his release, he was deported (again!), this time on his way back to the UK. But, Glitter refused to get back on the plane after a stop over in Bangkok, Thailand.

Thailand however didn’t want him and he went on to Hong Kong, who also refused to take him in. Back to Thailand he went, only for the Thai government to finally get him returned to the United Kingdom. He now remains living in England and has been forced to sign the Sex Offenders Register for life.

Allen Ginsburg – Finally, an American. The American poet, Allen Ginsburg, is another celebrity who’s been deported from two countries.

In the 1960s, Ginsburg was deported from Cuba for complaining about the Cuban government’s anti-marijuana stance. Cuba deported him to Czechoslovakia where, only a week later, he was deported again, because of his free expression of radical ideas.

The Czechoslovakian government, before they kicked him out, called him an “immoral menace” and wanted nothing more to do with him.

No skin off Ginsburg’s nose. He returned to the United States, where he spent the rest of his life speaking out against anti-marijuana decisions by the US government, and in defense of free expression.

Five famous people who’ve been deported once (or twice!) for various reasons. As a writer and artist who’s traveled all over the world, now I feel a little left out that I’ve never been deported from anywhere. Yet.

Michelle Topham