10 artists who were forced to change their name
30 January 2024, 18:37
Which famous acts started out in the music business and found they had to make a change to how they were known? Some examples are more drastic than others...
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The Leicester band, who formed back in 2017, announced in October 2023 that EasyGroup - owners of EasyJet and other companies - were taking legal action over the group's use of the "Easy" name.
"We've worked hard to establish our brand. I'm certain in no way have we ever affected their business," the band said in a statement.
"Although we find this whole situation hilarious, we are virtually powerless against such a massive corporation. Who knows what will happen next, every storm runs out of rain eventually."
EasyLife (the band) played their final show under the name at London's Koko on 13th October 2023.
The Chemical Brothers
When Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons started out as a DJing duo, they operated under the name of The Dust Brothers after the LA production team of EZ Mike and King Gizmo, who did the business for Beastie Boys and Beck among many others.
Once the British Dust Brothers started to become popular and booked some US gigs, the inevitable trademark issue came into play and Ed and Tom renamed themselves The Chemical Brothers after their tune Chemical Beats.
The Dust Brothers - Song to the Siren (full Sabre mix) (1993)
Have you ever wondered if all the great band names have been taken? Well, they may have run out earlier than you may have first thought as Brett Anderson's Britpop pioneers discovered when their Dog Man Star album was due to be released in the United States in 1994.
A female singer who performed under the name Suede forced the label to release the album under the name The London Suede, and the situation still exists in the USA, as their ninth album Autofiction was announced with the name in play Stateside.
The trio of Mark Hoppus, Tom DeLonge and then-drummer Scott Raynor came unstuck just before the release of their debut album Cheshire Cat in 1995 - they were performing under the name of just plain "Blink", but there was already a Dublin-based band already with that title, signed to the rather well-known label Parlophone.
Given the rest of the week to come up with an alternative, the group added the number "182", claiming that was the number of times that Al Pacino says the word "f**k" in the film Scarface.
Blink - Happy Day
More legal spoilsport shenanigans: Richard Ashcroft and crew were originally known under the very shoegazey single word name "Verve". That was, until after their 1993 debut album A Storm In Heaven, when they came to the attention of the veteran jazz label also called Verve. To avoid legal issues, they added "the definite article", but that wouldn't be the end of The Verve's legal problems...
The Californian rockers were known for a time as Xero, then became Hybrid Theory after a line-up reshuffle that saw the arrival of singer Chester Bennington. A self-titled EP under that name brought them to the attention of Warner Bros, who would only sign them if they changed their moniker to avoid confusion with the British trip-hop duo called Hybrid, whose tune Kid 2000 appears in the film Kevin And Perry Go Large. Linkin Park were named after Lincoln Park in Santa Monica, but tweaked the spelling to get hold of the website domain name!
Hybrid Feat. Chrissie Hynde - Kid 2000
Gary Lightbody and friends formed a band under the name Shrug in 1994, but soon discovered there were a number of artists with that name. They changed it to Polarbear and released an EP, titled Starfighter Pilot, in June 1997. However, Jane's Addiction bassist Eric Avery had also set up a band called Polar Bear and issued a self-titled EP in 1996. Result: Lightbody's team became Snow Patrol.
Snow Patrol - Starfighter Pilot (Official Video)
Queens Of The Stone Age
Josh Homme, of course, was originally in the famed US stoner rock band Kyuss, but his first project after the band split in 1995 went under the name Gamma Ray. However, after releasing a single under the moniker, Homme received a legal letter from a German speed metal act also called Gamma Ray and a rethink was in order.
Gamma Ray (1996)- Gamma Ray (Queens Of The Stone Age)
Death From Above
The Canadian duo of Sebastian Grainger and Jesse F. Keeler quickly found themselves on the end of a cease and desist letter from LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy, who had been running Death From Above Records since 2001.
The 1979 was apparently the least amount of characters required to make the name significantly different and was also the year Grainger was born. The duo reunited in 2012 and issued their third album Outrage Is Now in 2018, but the "1979" had fallen off and remains missing.
Death From Above 1979 - Romantic Rights (MTV Version) [Official Video]
Philadelphian singer-songwriter Santi White released her self-titled 2008 debut album under the name Santogold, but the 2012 follow-up Master Of My Make Believe revealed a subtle change in moniker.
Change the graffiti on the bathroom wall, get your tattoo fixed, get your T-shirt airbrushed and change the name on your year-end list," she announced in February 2009. "Santogold is now Santigold. She's not telling you why, that's just how it is." The boring truth was that there was already a Santo Gold, a jewellery business owned by Baltimore film-maker Santo Victor Rigatuso. That's showbiz.
Santigold - L.E.S Artistes (Official Music Video)
Sometimes the meaning of a band name can become problematic due to social changes, which is the fate that befell Kendal's prime purveyors of angular indie rock. Originally known as British Air Power, the name British Sea Power was an ironic statement on the country's outdated opinion of itself - their debut album is called The Decline Of British Sea Power, for example.
In August 2021, following such impactful events as Brexit and the arrival of the Black Lives Matter movement, the group dropped the "British" from their name, saying that they were worried about "a rise in a certain kind of nationalism in this world – an isolationist, antagonistic nationalism that we don't want to run any risk of being confused with."
Sea Power - Two Fingers (Official Video)