These famous bands changed their names... from what?
8 July 2023, 15:00
Do you have any records by Tony Flow And The Majestic Masters Of Mayhem in your collection?
We take a look back at the early incarnations of classic bands.
Depeche Mode - Composition Of Sound
Back in Basildon, Essex in 1977, Vince Clarke and Andy Fletcher originally worked together in a traditional guitar-based band called No Romance In China. The pair, plus Martin Gore then formed a similar act called Composition Of Sound, with Clarke on guitar. After hearing Liverpool synth-pop duo OMD, Clarke decided to go electronic and singer Dave Gahan joined; that was the point they changed their name to Depeche Mode.
Blur - Seymour
When Albarn, Coxon, James and Rowntree first got together in 1988, they titled themselves after a J.D. Salinger collection of novellas, called Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters & Seymour: An Introduction. Food Records boss Andy Ross didn't like the name and suggested they change it - the monosyllabic "Blur" was in keeping with the shoegaze/noise bands of the time, like Ride, Lush, Curve and Loop.
Kaiser Chiefs - Parva
Ricky Wilson and his Leeds-based troubadours had a whole previous life as young hopefuls Parva. Originally named Runston Parva, they shortened the name and released an album called 22 in 2003. However, their label closed and the band were dropped, which meant they re-invented themselves as Kaiser Chiefs the following year.
Joy Division - Warsaw
The Manchester band, with legendary frontman Ian Curtis, were almost given the moniker Stiff Kittens by Buzzcocks frontman Pete Shelley. The band preferred Warsaw, after a track on David Bowie's Low album, called Warszawa and recorded their first, very punky EP under that title. However, the name caused confusion with the London band, Warsaw Pakt, so a rethink was needed and a more graceful type of music followed.
Radiohead - On a Friday
The band that would become Radiohead first started rehearsing at their school in Abingdon, Oxfordshire in 1985. The day of rehearsals inspired the name, and it was as On A Friday that the band first came to the attention of the EMI label some six years later. When they signed a record deal, the label requested a change of name; Radio Head was the name of a track from the Talking Heads album True Stories.
Editors - Pilot
Tom Smith and co were known under various other titles during their early days in the Midlands. Their first show was as Pilot in 2002, but they realised there was a more famous Pilot, who had a hit with the song January in 1975. Their first demo was under the title The Pride, but when Ed Lay joined on drums, they morphed into Snowfield, under which name they released an EP in 2003. On signing to Kitchenware in 2004, the band settled on the name Editors.
U2 - The Hype
Larry Mullen started a school band called Feedback at Mount Temple Comprehensive in Dublin back in 1976. The following year, they changed their name to The Hype and only became the four-piece U2 we know and love when The Edge's older brother quit the band in 1978.
Oasis - The Rain
The world-straddling Oasis originally started off as a band that took their name from the B-side to The Beatles' Paperback Writer. Singer Chris Hutton was replaced by Liam Gallagher, but it wasn't until brother Noel got involved that a change of name was considered (the fact that there was also a Liverpool band called Rain can't have helped). According to legend, Oasis came from the Swindon leisure centre that Noel had visited while roadie-ing for Inspiral Carpets.
Pearl Jam - Mookie Blaylock
Eddie Vedder's grunge titans were originally called Mookie Blaylock after the NBA Basketball player, but Mr Blaylock was not amused and threatened legal action. A swift name-change was required and the rest is history.
Led Zeppelin - The New Yardbirds
When Jimmy Page tried to continue the London-based R&B band The Yardbirds with a new line-up in 1968, it seemed natural to call themselves "The New Yardbirds" to cash in on the previous act's fame. However, contractual haggling made them look around for a new moniker, and when The Who's Keith Moon suggested that the whole enterprise would go down "like a lead balloon", inspiration struck.
The Beatles - The Quarry Men
The very, very first incarnation of the biggest band in history took their name from Quarry Bank School in Allerton, Liverpool, which John Lennon attended. The line-up changed until it eventually focussed around the trio of Lennon, McCartney and Harrison. They played under various names, including Johnny And The Moondogs and The Silver Beatles, before becoming the plain old Beatles in 1960, as a tribute to Buddy Holly's Crickets.
Bloc Party - Superheroes Of BMX
Russell Lissack and Kele Okereke decided to form a band at the Reading Festival in 1999 and, with the help of Gordon Moakes and Matt Tong, performed under a number of daft names that included Superheroes of BMX, The Angel Range, Diet and Union. They settled on Bloc Party in 2003, shortly before the release of their debut single She's Hearing Voices.
The Cure - Malice
Originally starting life as a school band in Crawley called The Obelisk in the early 1970s, Robert Smith first started his musical career in earnest in 1976 under the name Malice. The following year, they became known as Easy Cure after a song in their set, but with the advent of punk, Smith wanted a more dynamic title and ditched the first part of the name.
Coldplay - Starfish
Chris Martin and Jonny Buckland formed a band at college in London back in 1996 under the horrible name Pectoralz. With the addition of Guy Berryman the following year, the group were playing gigs in the capital under the uninspiring name Starfish. With the addition of drummer Will Champion, their name changed for the final time to Coldplay… and superstardom soon followed.
Pink Floyd - The Tea Set
Roger Waters, Rick Wright and Nick Mason first played as a six piece called Sigma 6 in the early 1960s, before playing under the names The Meggadeaths, The Screaming Abdabs, Leonard's Lodgers, and The Spectrum Five before becoming The Tea Set in 1964. They remained under that name until they became The Pink Floyd Sound at the end of 1965.
Nirvana - Pen Cap Chew
Kurt Cobain had recorded a demo tape under the charming name of Fecal Matter, but when the time came to form a proper band with bassist Krist Novoselic and drummer Aaron Burckhard, they went through names such as Bliss, Skid Row, Ted Ed Fred and Pen Cap Chew. Thankfully, they chose the timeless name Nirvana for their first proper demos in January 1988.
Red Hot Chili Peppers - Tony Flow And The Majestic Masters Of Mayhem
This was the name that Anthony Kiedis, Flea, original Chili Peppers Hillel Slovak and drummer Jack Irons played their first ever gig at the Rhythm Lounge in Hollywood in February 1983. They went down so well, they were asked back, but chose a less silly name for the remainder of their career.