PART 2 - THE NAMING OF NAMES
Under normal circumstances, Part 2 would have started along the lines of… “So there you are sitting together in someone’s back bedroom or in a local pub with your new band and talking about stuff.” However those days of sitting together and talking about stuff have been shelved temporarily because of that virus thing, so what follows is digital, telephonic or imaginary…
You’ve probably decided what kind of music you’re going to play although you suspect that you will still be arguing about this subject in the future. Now you’re about to come up with a band name because names are important. Names identify who you are, say something about the music you might play and are essential for selling yourself. Without a name you’re nothing…
It is freezing cold, the winter of 1962. The scene - a dingy flat in Edith Walk, Chelsea, London. A young man called Brian Jones is telephoned by a night club agent and offered a spot for his fledgling blues band. He accepts. Then he is asked what the band is called. Have you got a name? He hasn’t. He starts to panic. This is a golden opportunity for him and his band mates. Desperately, he looks around for inspiration, and spots a Muddy Waters LP on the floor. His eye settles on a song title on the cover - “Catfish Blues” - with a remembered lyric…
“Well, my mother told my father, Just before I was born, I got a boy child comin, He’s gonna be, he’s gonna be a rollin’ stone, Sure ‘nough, he’s a rollin’ stone Sure ‘nough, he’s a rollin’ stone”
Through circumstance and good luck a successful band name was born. Brian could have gone for a simpler option like “The Brian Jones Blues Band” which probably said more about his conceit than it did about the band. He might have settled on a clever ho-ho name like “Rasputin and the Disputing Four” which said even less about the band. Besides, how would Mick Jagger feel about being known as Rasputin?
Another option that might have crossed his mind is a sophisticated acronym. Back in 1962 there was a modern jazz quartet going round that played stripped down, elegant and minimalist jazz - the kind of music that you definitely needed to wear a suit and tie and sit up straight to listen to. To emphasise where they were coming from they were known as the MJQ which was about as cool as you could get. Maybe
Brian thought he could come up with an acronym to match a possible moniker for his band- e.g the Blues Band Combo. He probably realised that “BBC” would not go down at all well with the big boys in suits and ties up the road at Shepherd Bush!
Getting the right name for a new band is an intellectual science which can go both right and wrong. Between 1957 and 1965 the unfortunately named “Dickey Doo & the Dont’s” with leader Richard A. Doo (real name Gerry Granahan) proved a popular recording band with many U.S hits even though some teenagers held their noses and dismissed them as “The Do-Dos!” On the other hand in July 1991 Joe Fearon, Alan Wills and Paul Cavanagh of the modestly named “Top” thought that their self-effacing single “Number One Dominator” would breeze up the charts with a bullet but it barely made it to No. 67… and so it goes!
My advice when it comes to choosing a name for your new band is to be prepared to change it. History shows that lots of other bands have this and found success!
WHO DID THESE BANDS BECOME AFTER A NAME CHANGE?
The Detours? Johnny and the Moondogs? Sigma 6? Strontium 90? The Strand? The Deltas? The Pendletones? Teen King and the Emergencies? Angel and the Snake?
Virus willing - there will be answers next week!
“Dickey Doo and the Don’ts” reached No 28 in the US Charts in February1958 with “Click Clack”
– from Martyn Day