Trying to describe your band’s sound through a name is tough—which is why sometimes bands don’t quite nail it the first time. Here is some random trivia about bands that changed their names.
- When the ‘80s hair metal band Skid Row got successful, a punk-influenced rock band from Washington also named Skid Row had to changes its name. After rejecting Pen Cap Chew, the band went with…Nirvana.
- The band Seymour formed in England in 1988, named for J.D. Salinger’s story “Seymour: An Introduction.” Food Records signed them a year later, but insisted the group change its name. A label employee gave them a list to choose from, including Sensitized, Whirlpool, and the one they went with, Blur.
- Canadians take their beer very seriously, which is why a Canadian pop band called Free Beer had trouble booking gigs—bar patrons would complain to bar owners about being tricked. Members of the group settled on another, but still silly name: Barenaked Ladies.
- Gene Simmons of KISS discovered a hard rock band playing around Southern California in 1976. They were going by the name Mammoth, until Simmons convinced them to change it to something closer to home: the last name of the Scandinavian drummer and guitarist. That band did pretty well as Van Halen.
- Guitarist Jimmy Page had already established himself as a rock star with the Yardbirds when he formed a new band with Robert Plant in 1968. Page named it the New Yardbirds to capitalize on his prior success. But then Keith Moon of the Who told Page that the group’s experimental, very heavy rock band would “go over like a lead balloon.” It was a short leap for Page and Plant from lead balloon to Led Zeppelin. (The spelling of “led” was done to make sure it was pronounced correctly.)
Want more random trivia like this? Check out Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader Plunges into Music.