Your band’s name must perfectly and succinctly express who and what you are while sounding cool at the same time. Of course, once you finally decide on a name, you’ll inevitably realize it’s already been taken. Which is why many a good band disbands long before a proper baptism. For various reasons — already taken, too stupid, too creepy — the bands below all trudged through a difficult name change, and rocked on with newly infused identity. Well, “rocked” may be a strong word in some instances.

Guns N’ Roses
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Hollywood Rose sounds like a drink special at Applebee’s, but it’s actually part of the budding band that blossomed into Guns N’ Roses, a group that’s about to break up again. Before Hollywood Rose though, Bill Rose, Issy Stradlin and Chris Weber (not of Fab Five fame) actually started a band called AXL, which is where Bill nabbed his famous name. Then they started calling themselves Rose and quickly realized that was taken, too. So they added “Hollywood.” When they added Tracii Guns of L.A. Guns and dumped Weber (who didn’t call a timeout he didn’t have and lose the championship), they dropped the drink special and formed Guns N’ Roses. Which, by the way, almost sounds as good as Guns N’ Axels.

The Goo Goo Dolls
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As is, they have the worst name in band history. I don’t know what the f–k a Goo Goo Doll is, and I don’t care. All I know is from the second I heard the name, I wanted nothing to do with a band that would call themselves something so stupid. Now, had they gone with their original pick The Sex Maggots, I might have given them a shot. Unless, of course, their music still sounded like Goo Goo Dolls.

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When Larry Mullen was but a wee Irish lad of 14, he got himself a new drum kit and needed some mates to rock out with. So on the bulletin board at Mount Temple Comprehensive School, he posted up an ad for The Larry Mullen Band. Six dudes responded; three of them, along with Mullen, make up the entirety of the band we know today. Of course, back in 1976, Paul Hewson wasn’t yet known as Bono, but he was apparently already a bit Napoleonic, because Mullen’s name lasted about as long as Bono’s legs. Shortly thereafter, they were known as Feedback, and then The Hype, which also featured The Edge’s brother Dik Evans. But mid-show, in a planned phasing out, Evans walked off the stage. And from that moment on, U2 would soar forever more as a foursome. And then Apartheid fell.

Simon & Garfunkel
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Remarkably, here’s another somewhat lasting group that met as little ones. Granted, S&G didn’t have the sticking power of the boys from Dublin, but they did start performing together as sixth graders in a production of “Alice and Wonderland.” Soon, they were doo-wopping up a storm and going by Tom & Jerry (because “Tom and Jerry,” and they didn’t want to sound so Jewey). Paul went with Jerry Landis, because he dug a girl named Sue Landis; Art went with Tom Graph after his undeniably Jewish love of graphing chart toppers on graph paper. Tom & Jerry garnered some early success, even playing they’re minor hit “Hey School Girl” on “American Bandstand” after the Killer sang “Great Balls of Fire.” But, as we Jews are wont to do, Paul and Art went off to college. When they started the band back up again in 1964 as the folk duo Simon and Garfunkel, they bravely let their Jew flags fly, especially Art, who showed the world a Jew-fro the likes of which they’d never seen before, and essentially paved the way for Drake.

Red Hot Chili Peppers
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OK, obviously there’s a trend developing here: If you start your band young, the name might not stick. Indeed, Anthony Kiedis, Hillel Slovak and Michael Peter Balzary (a.k.a. Flea) all went to Fairfax High School together. According to lore, they came together at the suggestion of a friend in the band Gary and Neighbor’s Voices, who thought the three would-be Chilis should open for them even though the trio didn’t actually have a band (or any songs for that matter). But whatever, they “wrote for the occasion,” rocked the house, and the club owner, a well-known lover of alliteration, invited Tony Flow and the Miraculously Majestic Masters of Mayhem back.

Destiny’s Child
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Before becoming one of the biggest selling girl groups of all time, Destiny’s Child started out as six tweens going by the name Girl’s Tyme, and even appeared on “Star Search” as such. Alas, in one of the greatest injustices ever witnessed by Ed McMahon, perhaps the whitest, most theater dorky band ever Skeleton Crew took out Bey’s bunch. So Bey’s dad and manager — the Queen Father — cleaned house, dropped some tweens, and changed the band’s name to Something Fresh, then Cliché, then Dolls, then Destiny, before deciding to pick up the good Book of Isaiah and plucking the words “destiny’s child” for repurposing.

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Chris Martin and Jonny Buckland first started making the world a softer place at University College London, where they had a band called Pectoralz, which is pretty bad considering it means nothing to seemingly anyone, but sort of suggests men with their shirts off to everyone. So when Guy Berryman joined up, they changed their name to Starfish, which definitely suggests anal sex. Alas, apparently the name Starfish wasn’t wussy enough, so they finally decided on Coldplay. The name came to them via another UCL student who had been calling his own band “Coldplay” until he decided that was just too depressing. So apparently Coldplay has actually been trying to depress us all along.

Earth, Wind & Fire
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If you love soulful, funky baby-making music, you’ll love Maurice White’s earlier band The Salty Peppers. I get the Peppers part, but I hear no saltiness, just a whole lot of sweet as saccharine “La La Time.” Alas, the band’s name was ripe for a changing after their second single “Uh Huh Yeah” didn’t catch on in the Midwest (where White was a steady session player for Chess Records). That’s probably because it was pretty much disco before disco was even a thing — but you know, good disco. Either way, it was way too ahead of its time for the stiffs in the Flyover States, so White loaded up the truck and moved to California. Then he launched a bigger, groovier experiment under the name Earth, Wind & Fire, which has something to do with Zodiac elements and his birth sign Sagittarius.

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Just when you thought Creed couldn’t suck any harder, you learn they originally called the band Naked Toddler. Reportedly, guitarist Mark Tremonti carried around a newspaper clipping in his wallet about a “naked toddler” getting kidnapped. And Tremonti was somehow convinced this would make a great band name. Even more disturbingly, he convinced other terrible people of this as well. Fortunately, they had the good sense to change the name after realizing it reminded people of naked toddlers being abducted. Unfortunately, they never quite recovered.



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