Top 13 bands that did well to change their name

There are music groups that are known to everyone. All over. On earth, and surely even further, in the universe. Genre… Nirvana, Pink Floyd, Queen, or even Green Day. Music that has toured the world, dozens of albums and… groups that might never have known this success if they had kept their very first name. I swear, sometimes it was embarrassing. The very big shame, even.

1. Fecal Matter – Nirvana

Do I really need to translate this infamous name? “Fecal Matter” means “fecal matter”. Translate “caca”. Pretty trashy as a name. And let it be said, it’s not super salesman… Who wants to listen to a group that can be summed up by the word… Well… “shit” what? Not many people. To be precise, it’s not exactly the original name of Nirvana, but that of the first group formed by Kurt Cobain in 1985, with Dale Crover of the Melvins. Finally, when the singer starts his new group with Krist Novoselic, he opts for “Nirvana”. A name he considers “beautiful, pleasant to the ear, far from the vulgar and dirty names of punk bands”. Coming from a guy who started out with a shitty name, that’s pretty cheeky.

2. The Young Aborigines – Beastie Boys

Let me guess, with a name that means “young aborigines”, you immediately think of a group formed by young people from Australian indigenous communities? Well no. Not at all. They are three Americans, originally from New York, first offering hardcore punk, then hip-hop music. Oulouloulouuuu cultural appropriation! BUT WHY THIS NAME, THEN? According to bassist Jeremy Shatan, it comes from “the idea that the music should be primitive in some way. Yeah. Eventually, they opted for a less controversial name: the Beastie Boys, BEASTIE meaning “Boys Entering Anarchistic States Towards Internal Excellence”. For Mike D, founder of the group, it is the “stupidest name they could come up with. “We are not sure. Really not sure, Mike.

3. Mookie Blaylock – Pearl Jam

“Mookie Blaylock” is none other than the name of a famous New Jersey Nets basketball player in the 1990s. Why this name for the group? Simply because a player’s trading card got stuck in one of their early demos. It was ok at first, when the band was unknown, but when they started to explode, they had to change their name. If only for questions of registration and sale of the brand. Among the theories on the origin of the new name: “Pearl” could simply be the name of the grandmother of Eddie Vedder, singer and guitarist of the group. For “jam”, the most down-to-earth theory: the name would have been proposed after a concert of Neil Young, of which each piece was a “jam” (improvisation) of 15 minutes. The craziest: Grandma Pearl made good hallucinogenic jams. Believe what you want, but we at Topito are down to earth. We therefore obviously vote for the good confiote de mamé.

4. Screaming Abdabs – Pink Floyd

A completely balanced and sane name: “Screaming (h)abdabs” comes from a colloquial English expression for a mysterious ailment, associated with an overactive nervous system and hallucinations. Style. After many adventures, many name changes and separations; Roger Waters, Richard Wright, Nicolas Mason and Dave Gilmour finally founded the famous group “Pink Floyd”. A name that pays tribute to two bluesmen: Pink Anderson and Floyd Councila. Nothing to do with the often given translation of “pink flamingo”. Moreover, the sound particularity of the quartet is forged by long improvisations of blues, on stage. CQFD.

5. Smile – Queen

“Smile” is cute. It’s a small smile. A little piece of sunshine. A box of sweetness. A burst of joy. A little tenderness in this world of brutes. It’s really… Yeah, really too silly. Too bad. Too care bears for a band as powerful as Queen. Originally, it was Brian May and Roger Taylor who opted for this name, as part of a high school project. When the singer, Tim Staffel, leaves the band and Freddie Mercury replaces him; it proposes the now unavoidable name of “Queen”. His justification “Queen must be regal and majestic. Glamor is part of us, and we want to be real dandies. We want to be shocking and outrageous. » Promise kept. Best band in the history of human life from the entire planet plus the universe, without any subjectivity, of course.

top 13 bands that did well to change their name
Photo credits (CC BY-SA 3.0): Carl Lender at

6. Tom and Jerry – Simon & Garfunkel

Little mouse and big cat obviously had no place in showbiz… Not in the music industry, at least! When Paul Simon and Arthur Garfunkel started talking about their music, they were only 15 years old. Deeming their name not glam enough for the stage, Paul renamed himself John Landis and Arthur became Tom Graph (because he likes to graphically represent the progression of hit records on graph paper. Original.) They then form the duo of ” Tom & Jerry”, without worrying about possible lawsuits from the producers of the cartoon. After the only success of “Hey Schoolgirl”, they quickly refocus on their studies, and will not return to the stage until 1964, under their real name, this time. In reality, the real reason that led them to choose this dubious pseudonym at the start, is much sadder than one might think: they simply feared being ghosted by assuming the Jewish origin of their surname. It hurts my heart, and a lot of pain.

top 13 bands that did well to change their name
Photo credits (Public Domain): GAC-General Artists Corporation-management and Columbia Records, their recording company

7. On a Friday – Radiohead

Translate “Friday”. Why ? Well, simply because the group of high school students met on Friday evening, after their week of classes, to train. Well done, Captain Obvious. When they started to make themselves known and chained dates, EMI spotted them and decided to produce them. By signing them, the label advises them to change their name, to find something less flat, not suggesting that they are only available once a week. The five members, fans of the Talking Heads then choose to pay tribute to the group by choosing the title of one of their music as their surname. And bam, “Radiohead” was born.

8. The Obelisk – The Cure

Apart from the fact that the Obelisk is an imposing monument, it is also and above all a construction rather… Well, phallic what. A funny name for a gothic rock band, then. When the band was formed in the 1970s, Robert Smith was the piano player. When he becomes leader, and adopts his famous make-up and top hat, he also makes some changes. The Obelisk then becomes Malice, then Easy Cure, and finally The Cure. Simple, and devilishly more effective.

9. Sweet Children – Green Day

No need to translate, but I’ll do it anyway for English LV8. Sweet Children means “the adorable children”, roughly. It’s cute, but not very punk. Ok, that’s second degree. We understand, but given some comments, we are (unfortunately) not all equipped. After a first success, while Billie Joe Armstrong and Mike Dirnt were still very young, the group decided to change their name. For the reason mentioned, but also so as not to be confused with the “Sweet Baby”. “Green Day” is taken from one of their early songs. They sing about a meaningless day, which they kill by smoking big joints. Not so sweet, the children.

10. Tony Flow and the Miraculously Majestic Masters of Mayhem – Red Hot Chili Peppers

There, for once, I understand the need for translation. The short, concise and easily pronounceable name of “Tony Flow and the Miraculously Majestic Masters of Mayhem” stands for “The Flow of Tony (for Anthony Kiedis, lead singer) and the Miraculously Majestic Masters of Mayhem”. JUST THAT. Guys, we said a stage name, not an insta bio. Even the acronym TFMMMM is three times too long, seriously! To justify this blaz, Kiedis explains “It was the way we wanted to play, majestic and chaotic at the same time”. Well, okay. It’s more petty than majestic in my eyes, but why not. Eventually, the band becomes the “Red hot chilli peppers”. It’s much better.

top 13 bands that did well to change their name
Photo credits (CC BY-SA 2.0): original by flickr user xPassenger, changes by de:user:JD

11. Festfolk – ABBA

Festfolk, what does it mean to you? Me, I see a feast lost in the depths of the countryside, people dressed as hippies, guitar in the back, and good binouze in hand. It looks very nice, but it’s true that it doesn’t really sound like a group with planetary success. Fortunately, the Swedish group quickly realized this, and quickly sought to change its name. Finally, they retain ABBA, acronym of their four first names (Agnetha, Björn, Benny and Anni-Frid.) Only small kouak: a fish cannery is already called like that. A short phone call to the manager, and a promise never to go into the fishmonger’s later, the agreement is given. Since then, tasting Abba herring while listening to ABBA is possible. We can’t wait to try the experience.

12. Kara’s Flower – Maroon 5

If the name is not offensive at first glance, it is actually very bad taste. “Kara’s flower” means “Kara’s flower”. We are not talking here about a little-known plant variety. Kara was none other than one of their groupie. A very pretty young woman, on whom the members of the group all had crushes. However, I am not without telling you that the “flower” of a woman is not her look or her smile. Here, here. Class, guys. In any case, the group does not take. After a first album which has a good flop, and a name which does not pass well (thank you Lord), the group decides to take a new turn. They then become the “Maroon 5”. If “5” refers to the numbers of members in the group, why they chose “Maroon” is kept secret. Maybe they like burgundy (maroon, in English).

13. Starfish – Coldplay

” Starfish “. I don’t know about you, but I admit that I find it hard to imagine an audience going wild against a group that bears that name. I don’t know, a starfish is pretty, but it’s soft, rather static, and not really known for its dynamism, is it?

Finally, after a beginning as discreet as these marine animals, the leader of the group, Chris Martin, decides to adopt a more rock’n roll name. This is how Coldplay was born. A second-hand name, since already used and then abandoned by another group, which refers to the collection of poems by Philip Horky: “Child’s Reflections, Cold Play”. More rock. More gloomy, but more rock.

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