Name That Name

 Posted by
Apr 162012

Spoiler Alert: Grumpy Old Man Ahead

Here’s the track listing from the CD accompanying the March 2012 issue of The Word:

Field Music – Start The Day Right
Team Me – Patrick Wolf & Daniel Johns
Phantom Limb – The Pines
Hundreds – Happy Virus
Chuck Prophet – I Felt Like Jesus
Folks – Avalanche
Speech Debelle – X Marks The Spot
Lovecraft – The Beast
Dodgy – What Became Of You
Am & Shawn Lee – Somebody Like You
Band Of Skulls – Wanderluster
Hooray For Earth – Last Minute
Mike Doughty – Na Na Nothing
Alex Highton – I Left The City
O’Hooley & Tidow – The Last Polar Bear

I was 5 tracks into the disc before I knew whether the band name or the song title came first.

What’s happened to band names?!?! I tell you, it’s another facet of EPG’s contention that there’s been no good music since 1983.

It wasn’t always this way. There was a time when band names were recognizably band names AND they were cool. C’mon, will anybody seriously argue that Panic! At The Disco is a cool name?

Types of band names changed over time, they followed trends, but they were recognizable.

I’d like to enlist the collective wit & wisdom of to catalog the eras of band names, create the time line. Can we fill in the time from 1955 to 1983 (or further if you insist there has still been music since then)? You define the time frame, you describe the band name category, you give the examples.

I’ll start it off.

1967-68: Psychedelic names, like Strawberry Alarm Clock, Ultimate Spinach, Electric Prunes…


  22 Responses to “Name That Name”

  1. Best band name ever?
    We’ve Got A Fuzzbox and We’re Gonna Use It.

  2. H. Munster

    A bit prior to the Psychedelic Era we had the first bands whose names were not in the plural or collective nouns (e.g. Kingston Trio, Dave Clark Five). The earliest I can think of are the Jefferson Airplane and the Cyrkle.

  3. H. Munster

    The Who predate the above.

  4. 1955-1958: Solo Artist’s name & the Somethings or, in the case of vocal groups, The Somethings (usually a word connoting romance). In the early ’60s you get the best of both worlds: Joey Dee & The Starlighters.

  5. cherguevara

    This brought an article to mind:

    …wherein the jump is made that since John Paul Jones could not call his band “The Vultures” it meant that all the good band names had been used. My take on this is that if you can’t think of a band name using every word, letter and symbol in every language on Earth, including those that you make up yourself, then you probably aren’t creative enough to make decent music using the same 12 notes that everyone’s been using since ancient Greece.

  6. cherguevara

    Or they could not call their band “Caligula.” Same difference…

  7. hrrundivbakshi

    Especially since it was a chick band.

  8. hrrundivbakshi

    Late 60s – late 70s: the single-word prog band name. Usually a word that was *heavy* with meaning, like “Yes” or “Rush” or “Magma” or “Gong.”

  9. Was 1963-1965 the start of modified “The” bands: The Young Rascals, The Detroit Wheels…? I guess there were “Famous” bands before then, but were other modifiers used?

  10. What would be the era for bands named after towns, countries, or continents, like Chicago & Asia? Was that strictly a ’70s thing?

  11. Happiness Stan

    … and The Beatles and The Rolling Stones…

  12. Happiness Stan

    There was a bit of a crossover with So and So and the modified The bands at the start of the sixties, with Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames, James Brown and the Famous Flames, Gene Vincent and the Blue Caps, and doubtless a lot more, 61/62 for the Rolling Stones and the Silver Beatles.

  13. I would think it started with Chicago, a band I recently realized may have been groundbreaking on suspect musical levels, and ran through the early ’80s.

  14. tonyola

    Chicago was originally known as Chicago Transit Authority, but the agency of the same name objected so the name was shortened for the second album in 1970.

  15. cherguevara

    A friend of mine recently made a case for Chicago as the band/artist that made the biggest drop in quality. I said, “no way, Rod Stewart” but he proved me wrong. Not that their highs were really high, but their low is beneath rock bottom.

  16. H. Munster

    Fats Domino, Chubby Checker and Round Robin, late fiftes – early sixties. OK, so they’re not bands.

  17. tonyola

    The first album is by far the best. The second and third albums had their moments but were inferior to the first. The falloff was dramatic after 1971.

  18. cliff sovinsanity

    The West Coast punk bands in the early 80’s had rather inflammatory, nihilistic or derogatory names that reflected the music of the era.
    The Germs, The Dead Kennedys, Wasted Youth, X, Fear, Black Flag, Circle Jerks…

  19. H. Munster

    Sixties Soul Groups:
    The Temptations
    The Vibrations
    The Sweet Inspirations
    Brenda And the Tabulations

    Sixties Girl Groups:
    The Marvelettes
    The Velvelettes
    The Bobbettes
    The Ikettes
    The Ronettes

    Sixties Random Groups:
    The Hondells
    The Shirelles
    Big Bill and the Rhondells
    Tommy James and the Shondells
    The Chantels
    The Dovells
    Troy Shondell
    The Standells
    The Jarmels

  20. H. Munster

    I almost forgot the Caravelles.

  21. Bands with unnecessary numbers in their name were in vogue in the 90’s with Sum41, Blink182, Eve6.
    The numbers seemed to have a purpose in the 80’s: U2, Heaven17, Front242.

  22. Great one. I’m reminded of New Wave of Heavy Metal bands with extraneous umlauts, Xs, and Ys.

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