25 Famous Bands' Less Famous Previous Names

attila feb9.jpg
As promised, here are the answers to Rocks Off's "Original Band Name" quiz from Tuesday. John St. Lee, if you'd care to email us, we'll see what we can do about getting you a prize. Do you like Devo?

1. Chicago: At about 25 or 6 to 4, the Windy City jazz-rockers realized The Big Thing sucked hog carcasses. The actual Chicago Transit Authority wasn't crazy about their next choice, but the shorter version has served them well.

2. U2: After a brief stint as Feedback, Larry Mullen Jr.'s band changed its name to The Hype. Bono certainly took the equally short-lived name to heart, but the other three U2s have largely been content to let their music do the talking.

3. Radiohead: Kids. Thom Yorke and his classmates at Oxfordshire's Abingdon School kept the name On a Friday (the day they rehearsed) until they were signed by EMI, which promptly asked them to change it. They chose a slight variation on a song title from Talking Heads' True Stories LP.

4. Oasis: We have no idea why Liam Gallagher and his Manc pals called themselves The Rain before older brother Noel joined and knocked some sense into them (literally, no doubt). It rains a lot in Northern England?

5. Billy Joel: In the late '60s, Billy Joel and Jon Small broke off from their Long Island rock band The Hassles to form early heavy-metal duo Attila, which ended when Joel ran off with Small's wife, Clapton-style. The Piano Man is a Motherfucking Pimp.

6. The Kinks: The brawling brothers Davies' band went through a succession of names, including the excellent The Ravens, before settling on the Kinks. Rocks Off thinks it's an accurate estimation of their choppy, brusque garage rock, but in punk journalist Jon Savage's opinion, they just needed a "gimmick" in the easily shockable early '60s. "I've never really liked that name," Ray Davies has said.

7. Grateful Dead: Another band whose original name might have been cooler than the one that stuck. But then, it wasn't entirely by choice: When they found out another group was also using The Warlocks, Jerry Garcia let his fingers do the walking through a folklore dictionary and landed on Grateful Dead.

8. Paul Revere & the Raiders: Before going all revolutionary, the Pacific Northwest rockers began their lives as The Downbeats, after the musical term for the first and third beats of a 4/4-time measure.

9. Van Halen: Netherlands transplants Alex and Eddie Van Halen thought they might better fit into the Southern California hard-rock scene with a shaggy name like Mammoth. After an aborted stint as Genesis (taken), new singer David Lee Roth just told them to use their last name and leave the rest to him. According to David Lee Roth, of course.

10. The Beach Boys: As The Pendletones, the Wilson Brothers and their pals Mike Love and Al Jardine originally gave themselves a musical spin on the woolen shirts made by the Oregon-based Pendelton company. Then they looked out the window of their Southern California home, realized all their songs were about surfing and cars anyway (and girls), and decided to go with the Beach Boys.

11. INXS: Sort of like Van Halen in reverse, the Farriss Brothers Band (that would be Andrew, Jon and Tim) mashed up the names of British New Wave gods XTC and Aussie canned-fruit specialists IXL to emerge with INXS. Shabooh Shoobah.

Sponsor Content

My Voice Nation Help

What about ZZ Top? I am surprised they aren't on this list, being a Houston Band. Billy Gibbons' first band, The Moving Sidewalks, evolved into the band we know today.


The general idea was to limit it (more or less) to bands that had obviously changed their names for good reason, and ones that not everybody knows. With a few exceptions, but most people (around Houston, anyway) are acquainted with the Moving Sidewalks, which is a damn cool name to boot.

Now Trending

Houston Concert Tickets

From the Vault