A week or so ago an article in these pages suggested a good way to forget Coronavirus was to start a band. It addressed the tricky problem of finding a group name advising bands to be prepared to change the name after second thoughts. Many world-famous bands had done just that… which brought us to this quiz.
WHAT WORLD FAMOUS BANDS DID THESE BECOME AFTER AN EARLY NAME CHANGE?
THE DETOURS = THE WHO
In 1959 singer and guitarist Roger Daltrey from Acton joined a skiffle group called The Detours. In 1964, after some changes in personnel, the band discussed changing their name. Guitarist Pete Townshend suggested the Hair” and Townshend’s roommate Richard Barnes suggested The Who. The next morning, Daltrey made the decision for the band, saying It’s the Who, innit? There was a brief period from July 1964 when the Who renamed themselves yet again as The High Numbers - a compliment used by the Mod stylists of the time - but by October had reverted back to The Who.
JOHNNY AND THE MOONDOGS = THE BEATLES
In 1956 John Lennon formed a skiffle group in Liverpool called The Blackjacks but soon changed the name to The Quarrymen in recognition of Quarry Bank School that he and other members of the band went to. In 1959 the group, which now included Paul McCartney and George Harrison, was invited to take an audition for the Carroll Levis Star Search TV show. Deciding that they needed a more showbiz title they changed their name to Johnny and the Moondogs. It didn’t do them much good. They failed the audition and by 1960 were back to The Quarrymen. During that year their name changed again and again, first to The Beatals, then The Silver Beetles, then The Silver Beatles and finally in August 1960 to The Beatles.
SIGMA 6 = PINK FLOYD
In the spring of 1962 Syd Barrett was playing around Cambridge with Geoff Mott and the Mottoes, moving to Those Without in June 1963. At the same time Dave Gilmour was playing around London with The Ramblers, then Chris Ian and the Newcomers and then Jokers Wild.
Meanwhile in another corner of London Nick Mason and Roger Waters were jamming with Sigma 6 who occasionally became the Abdabs and inevitably The Screaming Abdabs. In August 1964 Syd Barrett moved to London and meet up with other members of what was to become Pink Floyd, although before making this final shift they did evolve through Leonards Lodgers, Pink Floyd Blues Sound, and The Tea Set. The name Pink Floyd is derived from the names of two blues musicians, Pink Anderson and Floyd Council.
STRONTIUM 90 = THE POLICE
Strontium 90 was the name of a short-lived 1977 British band that included Sting (bass, vocals), Stewart Copeland (drums), and Andy Summers (guitar). This trio would go on to massive success as The Police. Along with Mike Howlett, a former member of Gong, the band also performed at a London club as ‘The Elevators’ in July 1977.
THE STRAND = THE SEX PISTOLS
The Strand formed in London in 1972 with teenagers Steve Jones on vocals, Paul Cook on drums and Wally Nightingale on guitar. According to Jones, both he and Cook played on instruments they had stolen. An early line-up of The Strand were sometimes known as The Swankers, managed by Malcom McLaren, the owner of punk rock shop Let it Rock. In May 1965, with some band changes including Johnny Rotten and Sid Vicious joining the line-up the band reappeared as QT Jones and the Sex Pistols and then The Sex Pistols.
THE DELTAS = THE HOLLIES
In the late 50s primary school friends from Salford, Allan Clarke and Graham Nash performed together as Ricky and Dane Young. modelling themselves on the Everly Brothers. Under this name, they teamed up with a local band, the Fourtones, quitting in 1962, to join another Manchester band, The Deltas. In December 1962 while playing at the Oasis Club in Manchester the band changed its name to The Hollies. In a 2009 interview Graham Nash said that the group decided just prior to their performance to call themselves The Hollies because of their admiration for Buddy Holly - and the fact it was Christmas time!
THE PENDLETONES = THE BEACH BOYS
For most teenagers living in California in the early 60s Pendletons were the name of a popular woollen shirt favoured by surfers but for Brian Wilson living at the time in Hawthorne it was good enough as a name for a band he was putting together with his brothers Dennis and Carl, his next door neighbour David Marks and a cousin Mike Love. Inspired by the surfing lifestyle Brian and Mike wrote and then recorded Surfin’ and Surfin’ Safari as the Pendletones. When the record was released at the end of December 1961 the band was surprised to see that their name The Pendletones had been changed to The Beach Boys. In fact the record company had wanted to rename the band the Surfers until a young promoter with the company noted that there already existed a group by that name.
TEEN KING AND THE EMERGENCIES = THE EAGLES
Glenn Frey was born in Detroit, Michigan on November 6, 1948 He studied piano at age five, later switched to guitar, and became part of the mid-1960s Detroit rock scene. One of his earliest bands was called The Disciples, and he played acoustic guitar. Then, for a short time he played the drums for his next band, The Subterraneans. Considering himself to be a bit of a ‘babe magnet’ when he was a teenager Glenn liked to describe himself as a ‘teen king’ - so when he eventually met up with the other members of what became the Eagles - Don Henley (drums, vocals), Bernie Leadon (guitars, vocals) and Randy Meisner (bass guitar, vocals) they referred to themselves as Teen King and the Emergencies. Other names considered The Saltines and The Small Frey Dance Band.
ANGEL AND THE SNAKE = BLONDIE
New York guitarist Chris Stein joined the Stilettoes in 1973 and formed a romantic relationship with one of the band’s vocalists, Debbie Harry, a former Playboy Bunny. In July 1974, Stein and Harry parted ways with the Stilettoes and formed a new band with ex-Stilettoes bandmates Billy O’Connor (drums) and Fred Smith (bass). Originally billed as Angel and the Snake for two shows in August 1974, by October 1974 they had renamed themselves Blondie after comments made by truck drivers who catcalled Hey, Blondie to Harry as they drove past…
– from Martyn Day