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
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
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.”
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.”
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.
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
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.