The Worst Original Names Of Famous Rock Bands

When I was in high school and thought I could actually play the guitar (not very well, I must admit), I talked to some of my friends who also had dreams of being in a rock band, and we got together a few times to practice and see if we had what it took to be rock stars. We did not, and I became a writer instead.

The one thing that obsessed our fledgling rock group more than anything was this: What should we call our band? If we were gonna be big stars, we would need a catchy name. The one I proposed was Veldt. In case you don’t know, a veldt is open, uncultivated country or grassland in southern Africa. And I lifted that name from a short story by Ray Bradbury, which I highly recommend.

Despite the fact that I never made it as a rock star (I’m an awesome air guitarist and air drummer to this day), here are some famous rock bands that did make it, but not with their original names, which in many cases were simply horrible.

Tom and Jerry

Image Via Wikpedia

This was the original name of Simon & Garfunkel. They were afraid their real names, which reflected their Jewish heritage, would alienate some potential fans.

On a Friday

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Yes, this was the first name for Radiohead, which, in my humble opinion, is one of the most innovative bands of the past quarter century. The group were all huge fans of the Talking Heads, so they took their new name from the obscure 1986 song “Radio Head.”


Image Via Publispain

The name Smile was used by guitarist, Brian May, and drummer, Roger Taylor, but they changed it when Freddie Mercury joined because, as Mercury said, “The concept of Queen is to be regal and majestic. Glamour is a part of us and we want to be dandy. We want to shock and be outrageous.”

Atomic Mass

Image Via ABCRadio
Atomic Mass, you have to admit, is not a bad name for a hard rock band. But Def Leppard has that ring of Led Zeppelin to it, and it works perfectly.

The Pendeltons

Image Via Wikimedia

This is the one that really surprised me. The band really hated the stuffy-sounding name and changed it to Beach Boys, but they almost went with the Surfers.

Wicked Lester

Image Via Wikimedia
What does Wicked Lester even mean? Drummer Peter Criss admits he was not a fan of the Kiss name to begin with, but, “Good kissing makes for good laying. It’s sexual, it’s cool. And it’s infinitely better than Wicked Lester.”

Screaming Abdabs

Image Via PinkFloydVideos

One of my all-time favorite groups. “Screaming abdabs” (also spelled “habdabs”) is British slang for a mystery ailment along the lines of the heebie-jeebies or delirium tremens. How many of you knew that was the original name of Pink Floyd?

Soft White Underbelly

Image Via Wikipedia
Blue Oyster Cult is certainly catchier than Soft White Underbelly. Of course, we’re gonna need more cowbell. Some of you will get that reference, and others won’t.


Image Via Wikipedia

Ladies and gentlemen, Pud! Yeah, not too good. So they went from a childish reference to a body part to one which evokes pot. Hey, works for me.

The Polka Tulk Blues Band


How they got from The Polka Tuck Blues Band to Black Sabbath would take too much time to regale you with. Black Sabbath, however, comes from a Boris Karloff movie with the same title.