Fact: Rock and Roll history is littered with an astounding number of misfires in the band-name department. It’s all understandable, of course. Whenever you’re engaged in a creative endeavor, it’s difficult to hit squarely on the perfect idea right off the bat—you have to discuss things, brainstorm, “workshop” them, and narrow down your options until you think you’ve got the perfect fit. Today, we wouldn’t be surprised if bands hired branding agencies to do this for them.
However, in the case of the band names that follow, they’re so spectacularly awful we can’t believe we even know about them in the first place—and that they weren’t dismissed the moment they were uttered. So read on, and try to conjure a world in which “Tom and Jerry” crooned about a “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” and “Tony Flow and the Miraculously Majestic Masters of Mayhem” sang “Under the Bridge.” And for more great lessons in terrible monikers, don’t miss the 30 Funniest Celebrity Pet Names.
Kara’s Flowers; Maroon 5
In the ’90s, alternative rock music was just coming into its own, and so was Adam Levine and crew—sort of. Four out of the five band members met in prestigious art school in Los Angeles, where the name Kara’s Flowers seemed appropriate for a band full of teenage boys in love with the same girl—you guessed it, Kara. And for more on the Kara and Adam Levine’s posh upbringing, check out the 20 Celebrities Who Were Born Wealthy.
Tom and Jerry; Simon and Garfunkel
Musical legends Art Garfunkel and Paul Simon have been making music together since they were 15. Nervous about using their given Jewish names, the pair came up with the safest bet: “Tom and Jerry.” Simon would name himself John “Jerry” Landis (after Sue Landis, a girl at school he had a crush on), and Garfunkel would name himself Tom Graph, a reference to graph paper. All we can say: Thank god that didn’t happen. And for more what-if’s in this crazy world of ours, don’t miss America’s 30 Most Fascinating Unsolved Mysteries.
Mookie Blaylock; Pearl Jam
Before Pearl Jam became one of the grungiest bands of the ’90s and ultimately redefined the sound of the decade, they were just a bunch of sports fans. Their first band name was Mookie Blaylock, after the former NBA star who played for the New Jersey Nets and Atlanta Hawks. And for more misfires in the sports world, here are the 30 Ugliest Sports Uniforms Ever Designed.
Sweet Children; Green Day
This is an original band name that we sort of wish had stuck around. While it’s safe to assume this name was used for ironic purposes, it still would’ve been the best cover for every teenager with helicopter parents. What mom would say no to a Sweet Children concert? And for more on music, check out How Music Helps You Burn More Calories.
The Obelisk; The Cure
Before the goth clothes and raccoon makeup, Robert Smith wanted to name his band after phallic-shaped monuments.
The Band Aid Boys; Bone Thugs-N-Harmony
It was all because Anthony “Krayzie Bone” Henderson crashed his moped in junior year. The next day he arrived at his school in Cleveland covered in band-aids—and so did his crew in solidarity. From that point on, the Band Aid Boys ruled the halls of their junior high school. And for more examples of people who struck it big, read up on the kid who made $16 million on YouTube in a single year.
The Young Aborigines; Beastie Boys
Before the Beastie Boys were objectifying women, they were objectifying other cultures. According to the band, they just wanted their music to be “primitive in some way.” They eventually got what they wished for.
Screaming Abdabs, Tea Set, Leonard’s Lodgers, Meggadeaths; Pink Floyd
Pink Floyd apparently has some branding issues in the beginning. From the prim and proper Tea Set to the more head-scratching Screaming Abdabs, it took some time for the group to become one of the most self-sure bands in the world.
Soft White Underbelly; Blue Oyster Cult
Is Blue Oyster Cult really the soft white underbelly of rock n’ roll? The band sure used to think so. The original band members—minus lead singer Eric Bloom—toured with this name in the ’60s before enough scathing reviews convinced the group to try another name. And for more crazy trivia, here are the 30 Facts You Always Believed That Aren’t True.
The Salty Peppers; Earth, Wind and Fire
Before lead singer Maurice White named his group after astrological elements earth, wind, and fire (he’s a Sagittarius), he received inspiration from the culinary scene.
Pud; Doobie Brothers
Some times, inspiration seems to hit a brick wall. Case in point: Pud.
Rainbow Butt Monkeys; Finger Eleven
Could you imagine a late-night host introducing these guys by that name? Oy. And speaking of: Here are the 30 Most Outrageous Late-Night TV Moments Ever.
The Shrinky Dinks; Sugar Ray
Be serious: What else did you expect from Mark McGrath and company? The band stuck with the name—inspired by the oven-heated children’s arts and crafts kit of the same name—until a lawsuit nearly came down on their heads.
Tony Flow and the Miraculously Majestic Masters of Mayhem; Red Hot Chili Peppers
This name is indeed an ode to every first band that seems to fit an entire encyclopedia of intimidating adjectives into its title. Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Anthony Kiedis said the name reflected how they wanted to play, “majestic and chaotic.”
The Polka Tulk Blues Band; Black Sabbath
Okay, yes, the name is a bit misleading for one of the world’s first heavy metal bands—but it’s still kind of cool, nonetheless. The group stuck with the name until Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi told Ozzy Osbourne one day that, “Every time I hear it, all I can picture is you, with your trousers around your ankles, [relieving yourself].”
The Golliwogs; Creedence Clearwater Revival
While the name sounds English and makes no room for any smooth-talking vocals, Creedence Clearwater Revival eventually swapped out this name for something that suited their tunes a bit more.
Naked Toddler; Creed
It just feels all too wrong.
Village Idiots; Nickelback
We’re pretty sure the band had a crystal ball in front of them when creating this ironic branding. This was back when the group only sang covers—and now everything has truly come full circle.
Pen Cap Chew; Nirvana
We can just picture the scene: a young Kurt Cobain and Dave Grohl spending countless hours in the studio trying to come up with that one perfect name to fully channel their grungy angst. Cobain looks down, sees a chewed pen cap, and suddenly has it all figured it out. It’s an epiphany. It’s nirvana.
Rat Salad; Van Halen
These rockers wanted to seem hardcore at a time when rock n’ roll was just starting to delve into the more metal and less mundane. The band kept this not-so-healthy salad alternative as a name for the few years they were performing at men’s clubs and bars before swiftly and simply changing it to reflect the legendary guitarist’s name. And for more fun from Val Halen, check out the 30 Most Hilarious Celebrity Riders.
Rocket Baby Dolls; Muse
Muse has always harbored a soft spot for the intergalactic, and their first band name was no different. The name was only used for one gig—a local battle of the bands—and we’re sure the group is thankful for this fact.
The Sex Maggots; Goo Goo Dolls
Before the Goo Goo Dolls became ubiquitous with swelling ’90s love ballads, the band just wanted to have a little more sex appeal.
The Angry Young Teddy Bears; The Stone Roses
The Stone Roses just wanted be adored. This might be why they named their first band The Angry Young Teddy Bears.
On a Friday; Radiohead
As the legend goes, Thom Yorke and company—in the 1980s, before 1993’s earth-shattering Pablo Honey—the band only rehearsed on Fridays. In an uncharacteristic lack of creativity, that was the band’s initial namesake.
Smile is a startling contrast with Queen, a name that ultimately stirred up a lot of controversy and flavor. Thank goodness Freddie Mercury soon joined the band after the name change, kicking off one of the greatest rock bands of all time.
The Pendletons; Beach Boys
Before the Beach Boys were the Beach Boys, they actually weren’t at the beach at all. Their first band name was inspired by the plaid, wool shirts favored by the surf community. But they eventually got on those surfboards and became the Beach Boys we know and love.
Mr. Crowe’s Garden; The Black Crowes
We’re guessing the band made the switch to sound more like a band and less like a children’s television special.
Girl’s Tyme; Destiny’s Child
Because “Girl’s Time” would have been so unhip in 1997.
The Rattlesnakes; Bee Gees
Many say their songs were worse than their bite.
Yes, we’re still waiting for them to come to their senses.
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