What's in a (band) name?

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Old 05-May-2011
What's in a (band) name?

UNP ImageThe Beatles

Could have been: The Beetles, The Beatals, Johnny and the Moondogs, Long John and the Beetles, The Quarrymen, The Silver Beatles
Apart from struggling to find a drummer when they started out, the Fab four obviously couldn't decide whether they wanted to sting or sing. From The Beetles to The Beatals, Johnny and the Moondogs to Long John and the Beetles, and The Quarrymen to The Silver Beatles; they finally settled on The Beatles and the rest is history.

Black Sabbath

Could have been: The Polka Tulk Blues Band, Earth
From cosmetics to horror flicks, Black Sabbath started out as The Polka Tulk Blues Band (after a brand of talcum powder), but later swapped it for the name Earth, which then-frontman Ozzy Osbourne hated. With another band also called Earth, much to Ozzy's delight they eventually settled on Black Sabbath, inspired by a horror film of the same name.

Van Halen

Could have been: Mammoth, Rat Salad, Genesis
The rock legends formed as Mammoth in 1972, but found a band by that name already existed. When David Lee Roth suggested Rat Salad, it didn't go down well and was ditched in favour of Genesis. But that was already in use for Peter Gabriel's band, so they finally settled on Van Halen.


Could have been: The Rain
Liam and the boys were originally called The Rain after the Beatles song Rain. Liam chanced on the name Oasis from an Inspiral Carpets tour poster (that band was performing at Oasis Leisure Centre in Swindon) hanging in his bedroom, of all places and said the name had a "resonance of imagery". Sounds alright, our kid.

Pink Floyd

Could have been: Sigma 6, The Meggadeaths, The (Screaming) Abdabs, Leonard's Lodgers, The Spectrum Five and The Tea Set
The band's names went from clueless to downright ridiculous until guitarist Syd Barrett came up with The Pink Floyd Sound after he found out another band called The Tea Set was performing at the same show as them. The final name, Pink Floyd, is a tribute to blues acts Pink Anderson and Floyd Council.


Could have been: Gothic Plague, Fixed Penalty, Rocket Baby Dolls
Matt Bellamy's band went from Gothic Plague to Fixed Penalty to Rocket Baby Dolls (the last of which they used to compete in a battle of the bands, which they won). Once the band found its footing, the members renamed themselves Muse, inspired by Bellamy's art teacher. The guys also thought Muse would look good on a concert poster.

Red Hot Chili Peppers

Could have been: Tony Flow and the Miraculously Majestic Masters of Mayhem
Phew! Thank goodness Tony and his Masters of Mayhem got record label attention and signed up with EMI to be renamed Red Hot Chili Peppers. Otherwise the band's name would have caused mayhem when it came to us poor journos having to fit it into a headline!


Could have been: On a Friday
The original line-up rehearsed in their school music room on a Friday, hence the name On a Friday. When EMI signed them up, sense prevailed and Radiohead - inspired by a track on the Talking Heads' album True Stories - was born.


Could have been: The Larry Mullen Band, Feedback, The Hype
When Larry Mullen Jr first advertised the band on a school notice board, he referred to it as The Larry Mullen Band. Once Bono joined, they became Feedback and even later, The Hype, but when Dik Evans left the band, they settled on U2 - which they found nice and vague.


Could have been: Pectoralz, Starfish
Pectoralz was a sort of side project for the band, which became Starfish when bassist Guy Berryman joined. Years later, Coldplay was suggested by a fellow student who had toyed with using the name for his band, which had never taken off.

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