ORIGINAL NAMES OF FAMOUS BANDS

BLACK SABBATH
Previous: Polka Tulk Blues Band
The original name was then shortened to Polka Tulk. After that they changed from Polka Tulk to Earth after a lineup switch. Then, after being mistaken by another UK band, they changed their name again from Earth to their final name, the one we all know. Black Sabbath comes from the 1963 Mario Bava film of the same name, which happened to be playing across the street from their practice


VAN HALEN
Previous: Rat Salad
Before David Lee Roth was in the band, it was Genesis and then Mammoth. After they realized there was an American band called Genesis, they changed it to Mammoth. Finally they landed on Van Halen after Roth joined and thought the brothers’ last name “sounded cool.” But before all that, they were a cover band and used the name Rat Salad from a Black Sabbath song.


THE WHO
Previous: Detours
Roger Daltrey started up the Detours in 1959 with John Entwistle, Harry Wilson, Colin Dawson, and Pete Townshend. In 1964, the Detours were made aware of another band, Johnny Devlin and the Detours, and immediately set out to change their name. Pete and his roommate Richard Barnes spent the night thinking about it and almost as a joke came up with “No One,” “the Group,” and “the Hair,” finally having Daltrey choose the name, The Who.


BLUE ÖYSTER CULT
Previous: Soft White Underbelly
More cowbell and less soft white underbellies! Their manager wanted the band to be the United States’ Black Sabbath, so the name they took on in 1967 wasn’t cutting it. Blue Öyster Cult was taken from a poem of their manager, Sandy Pearlman, and they haven’t feared the reaper since.


PINK FLOYD
Previous: Screaming Abdabs
These guys went through a few names, The Tea Set, Jokers Wild, The Pink Floyd Sound, and finally Pink Floyd. Screaming Abdabs (or Screaming Habdabs) was a British term with the same thought as heebie jeebies. After heading to a gig with another band called Tea Set, they changed their name on the spot after two blues musicians, Pink Anderson and Floyd Council.


QUEEN
Previous: Smile
Before Freddie Mercury, the band was named after something that came out of a college project of their first singer and bassist, Tim Staffell. Then, as Freddie did, he came in and changed everything. Once the band was Queen, nothing was ever the same.


GUNS N ROSES
Previous: LA Guns and Hollywood Rose
Two bands came together to create these legends. Tracii Guns of LA Guns and Axl Rose of Hollywood Rose joined forces to create Guns N Roses. Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on who you are, Tracii Guns was replaced later by the one and only Slash.


DEF LEPPARD
Previous: Atomic Mass
The approximate equivalent of the number of protons and neutrons is atomic mass, but thankfully, it was never a name that stuck. Their singer told the band about a school project he did, in which he came up with names of imaginary rock bands. One of the names was Deaf Leopard, and with a few edits, they took off.


THE JIMI HENDRIX EXPERIENCE
Previous: The Blue Flames
Before he was Hendrix, he went by Jimmy James and his band was named as a nod to blues singer Junior Parker’s backup band. It also rhymed. Jimmy’s name slowly morphed into Jimi James, and eventually, his business manager, Michael Jeffery, named the group The Jimi Hendrix Experience in 1966.


KISS
Previous: Wicked Lester
Before these legends got dressed up in black and makeup, they were just some New York rockers called Wicked Lester. Then Gene and Paul left the band to start something new and got together with Peter Criss. Criss mentioned that he was in a band called Lips. Stanley suggested the name KISS and people have been catching them ever since.


U2
Previous: The Hype
The first name of the band was actually The Larry Mullen Band until Bono arrived and they all knew he was in charge. After a friend told them that The Hype was a lame name, they went with U2, which was vague and meant multiple things from U-2 bomber, to you too, to you two.


PEARL JAM
Previous: Mookie Blaylock
The original name of Pearl Jam was taken from NBA player, Mookie Blaylock. They didn’t have a band name and picked the point guard as a temporary name from a card that they bought using a per diem from their label . When things started heating up, they renamed to Pearl Jam. Fun fact: Their album Ten was named after Mookie’s number.


QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE
Previous: Gamma Ray
If they weren’t threatened with a lawsuit, QOTSA would most likely still be called Gamma Ray. A German metal band wasn’t going to let them get away with using their name. Instead, they went with a nickname given to Kyuss (Josh Homme’s previous band) by their producer.


RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS
Previous: Tony Flow and the Miraculously Majestic Masters of Mayhem
Possibly the coolest previous name of all time, they changed it to Red Hot Chili Peppers after two shows in 1983. Red Hot Chili Peppers was based around so many bands, but having a focus on something like Tom and the Red Hots or Chris and the Chilis, they just put them together. An oddly normal name compared to their original.


THE CLASH
Previous: The Weak Heartdrops
Before landing on The Clash, the group also tried out The Weak Heartdrops and the Psychotic Negatives. Their final name came after bassist Paul Simonon kept reading it in the newspaper and the rest is punk rock history.


THE CURE
Previous: The Obelisk
The fact that the band named themselves The Obelisk in MIDDLE SCHOOL is incredible, but after a few lineup changes, and Robert Smith moving to the front of the action, he changed the name to Malice, then Easy Cure, and finally settled on The Cure.


THE GRATEFUL DEAD
Previous: The Warlocks
As any good Deadhead knows, the group first started in 1965 as The Warlocks, gigging around as a bar band. The name we’re all familiar with was said to be suggested by Jerry Garcia after picking up an old copy of Britannica World Language Dictionary and reading the definition. Then again, there are a ton of interesting stories on where it came from…


CREED
Previous: Naked Toddler
Thankfully the fans hated their first name as much as you do reading it later. It was based off of a newspaper story, but, as a tip of the hat to their bassist Brian Marshall’s previous band Mattox Creed, they took their final moniker that cemented their spot in ’90s history.


CREEDENCE CLEARWATER REVIVAL
Previous: The Golliwogs
The Golliwogs actually started in ’59 as a band called The Blue Velvets (an instrumental trio). Five years later, Max Weiss, one of the founders of the Fantasy Records music label, wanted to rename them. It wasn’t until 1968, when John Fogerty agreed to the suggested Creedence Clearwater Revival, a mix of Tom’s friend, Credence Newball, a commercial for Olympia beer (“clear water”), and the band’s renewed commitment to themselves


STONE TEMPLE PILOTS
Previous: Mighty Joe Young
There was a demo recorded by STP under the name Mighty Joe Young, but unfortunately, the name was already being used by a blues musician, so they switched the name to Shirley Temple’s Pussy. Would they have been as big as they were with that name? Once they signed with Atlantic in 1989, they were asked to change the name and kept the STP from their previous name.


GREEN DAY
Previous: Sweet Children
Did you know they started back in 1986? When they started playing, and even after getting signed, they were known as Sweet Children, but before their first album dropped they switched it to Green Day, so they weren’t confused with another band at the time, Sweet Baby.


BLINK 182
Previous: Duck Tape
The year was 1992 and somewhere in California Tom was introduced to Mark, who then paired up with a drummer, Scott Raynor, forming the band Duck Tape. Then, they changed the name to Blink, but got some flack from an Irish band that already had that name and added on the 182 in 1993. Why 182 you ask? That’s how many times Pacino says, “fuck” in Scarface.


COLDPLAY
Previous: Pectoralz
The first inkling of the band was during college as Pectoralz. When Guy Berryman joined the band, they changed the name for the first time, to Starfish. And then finally they landed on Coldplay after Will Champion joined. The new name came from another local artist at their school, who suggested taking his old band’s name since he was no longer using it. That’s right, Coldplay is a secondhand band name.

 

 

 

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Replies

  • Great topic and  interesting read.Hope to see some Ozzie Bands on the list and a few more names from the 60’s.

  • The Beach Boys:

    The Beach Boys were originally called the Pendletones, after the Pendleton Woolen Mills flannel shirts, a surfer-favored look that was extremely popular at the time. The record company didn’t like the name so they changed it toThe Beach Boys without their knowledge. They found out when they heard their fist song Surfin’ on the radio. 3853890586?profile=RESIZE_710x

  • Radiohead - On a Friday .... because when the band first formed, guess when they rehearsed ?

    • Second Tuesday of every month.

  • THE WHO

    Previous: Hillbilly Bugger Boys.

    • Nickelback 

      Previous: Croaker and the Cocks

  • You're wrong about Hendrix, it was Chas Chandler not Mike Jefferies who told Jimi to change his name and the spelling...The Stones were known as Little Boy Blue and The Blues Boys 'fore they became The Stones...the Beatles were known as The Silver Beatles, The Doors were known as Johnny Raven and The Ravens (trus), The Sex Pistols were known as SPOTS and Abba were known as The Shitty Band That Plays Shitty Music For People With Tin Ears

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