The Rockin’ Playlist That Forced Noriega To Surrender More Than 25 Years Ago

In December 1989, American forces invaded Panama in an effort to oust dictator Manuel Noriega. Noriega and his top advisors fled to the Vatican embassy, where any American invasion would violate International Law. Despite pleas from American leaders, the Vatican refused to turn over Noriega. So the United States turned to psychological warfare with a little help from rock and roll.

A perimeter of speakers was constructed in an effort to blast music and drive the deposed leader insane. The speakers were set to broadcast the Southern Command Network, the American military radio network in Central America. The SCN wasn’t initially aware of the operation, and played Christmas music for the first two days. But on December 27, the PSYOPS team called in and alerted the station of the speakers. And the requests started rolling in.

The Vatican complained to President Bush and the music was stopped three days later. But by then, the bizarre plan had already garnered worldwide attention and was cemented in pop culture. On January 3, 1990, Noriega finally surrendered, thanks in part to the hilarious playlist below. Huh, so The Georgia Satellites serve a purpose after all…

Billy Idol-Flesh For Fantasy

Guns N’ Roses-Welcome to the Jungle

The Doors-Strange Days

The Doors-People Are Strange

The Doors-The End

Judas Priest-You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’

Paul Simon-50 Ways to Leave Your Lover

The Georgia Satellites-All Over But The Cryin’

U2-All I Want Is You

Billy Joel-Big Shot

Styx-Blue Collar Man

Bruce Springsteen-Born to Run

The Georgia Satellites-Bring Down The Hammer

Tears For Fears-Change

The BusBoys-Cleanin’ Up The Town

David Bowie & Mick Jagger-Dancing In The Street

Kenny Loggins-Danger Zone

Oingo Boingo-Dead Man’s Party

Boston-Don’t Look Back

Blue Oyster Cult-Don’t Fear The Reaper

Kix-Don’t Close Your Eyes

Rick Dees-Eat My Shorts

Funkadelic-Electric Spanking Of War Babies

Tom Petty- Feel A Whole Lot Better

White Lion-Little Fighter

Little Steven-Freedom

The Outlaws-Ghost Riders In The Sky

KC & The Sunshine Band-Give It Up

Paul Young-I’m Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down


Van Halen-Hang ‘Em High

New Kids On The Block-Hangin’ Tough

Kiss-Heaven’s On Fire

Todd Rundgren-Hello It’s Me

Tom T Hall-Hello, We’re Lonely

The Beatles-Helter Skelter

Bobby Fuller-I fought The Law

Bruce Cockburn-If I Had A Rocket Launcher

Led Zeppelin-In My Time Of Dying

Black Sabbath-Iron Man

The Doobie Brothers-It Keeps You Runnin’

Whitesnake-Judgement Day

Steve Miller Band-Junge Love

Cher-Just Like Jesse James

XTC-Mayor Of Simpleton

The Allman Brothers Band-Midnight Rider

The Fleetwoods-Mr. Blue

John Parr-Naughty Naughty

Rick Astley-Never Gonna Give You Up

INXS-Never Tear Us Apart

Chuck Berry-No Particular Place To Go

Alice Cooper-No More Mr. Nice Guy

Eric Clapton-No Alibis

Nazareth-Hair of the Dog

The Beatles-Nowhere Man

Martha & The Vandellas-Nowhere to Run

George Thorogood-One Way Ticket

Van Halen-Panama

Guns N’ Roses-Paradise City

Black Sabbath-Paranoid

Guns N’ Roses-Patience

Rick Nelson-Poor Little Fool

Ronnie Milsap-Prisoner Of The Highway

Neil Young-Prisoners of Rock ‘n’ Roll

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers-Refugee


The Rolling Stones-Rock and a Hard Place

Iron Maiden-Run to the Hills

Pink Floyd-Run Like Hell

Judas Priest-Screaming For Vengeance

Arabian Prince-She’s Got A Big Posse

Ozzy Osbourne-Shot in the Dark

Twisted Sister-Stay Hungry

The Doobie Brothers-Takin’ It To The Streets

Journey-The Party’s Over

Sawyer Brown-The Race Is On

Steppenwolf-The Pusher

Warren Zevon-The Long Arm Of The Law

Jimi Hendrix-The Star Spangled Banner

Night Ranger-The Secret of My Success

Napoleon XIV-They’re Coming To Take Me Away

Joan Jett-This Means War

The Rolling Stones-Time Is On My Side

Jethro Tull-Too Old To Rock ‘N’ Roll, Too Old To Die

Jimi Hendrix-Voodoo Child

Bonham-Wait For You

The Rolling Stones-Waiting On A Friend

Bon Jovi-Wanted Dead Or Alive

Black Sabbath-War Pigs

Billy Joel-We didn’t Start The Fire

The Animals-We Gotta Get Out Of This Place

Heart-Who Will You Run To?

Sam Cooke-You Send Me

AC/DC-You Shook Me All Night Long

Eurythmics-You Hurt Me And I Hate You

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers-You Got Lucky

Led Zeppelin-Your Time Is Gonna Come

Skid Row-Youth Gone Wild

Source: George Washington University