Not surprisingly, many of our favorite bands took a while to come up with a name for the group (Toad the Wet Sprocket is not among them). Whether it’s Oasis (originally Rain) or Led Zeppelin (originally the New Yardbirds), sometimes bands just have to get out there and play before they can come up with a moniker which works for them. Sometimes, when the bands later become huge, this is hilarious. Here are five of our favorite instances.
Johnny and the Moondogs (The Beatles)
It’s hard to imagine John Lennon as someone who went by “Johnny,” and it’s even harder to imagine the world’s most popular musicians not named Justin Bieber going by this name, which makes them sound like some kind of biker gang. But hey, it could have been brilliant: maybe Lennon, McCartney, & Co. could have invented punk rock a decade early.
Rat Salad (Van Halen)
Whether you prefer Sammy Hagar or David Lee Roth, it’s difficult to picture either becoming popular as singer for a band called Rat Salad. That’s what Van Halen started out as, though, before one or more of the band members decided that people seeing them as conceited was better than people seeing them as members of a band called Rat Salad.
Psychedelic Rangers (The Doors)
Sure, “Psychedelic Rangers” describes the Doors a lot better than “the Doors.” It’d work equally well, though, at describing a spandex-clad group of superheroes on a Saturday morning cartoon. Jim Morrison, nuclear-powered crime fighter? Hey, why not?
The Polka Tulk Blues Band (Black Sabbath)
Imagine going to see the Polka Tulk Blues Band (is it polka? Is it blues? It was actually named after singer Ozzy Osbourne’s favorite brand of talcum powder). Imagine watching the frontman for the Polka Tulk Blues Band bite the head off a bat. Imagine your mind EXPLODING.
Sex Maggots (The Goo Goo Dolls)
Adult-contemporary favorites the Goo Goo Dolls (you know, the guys who do “Iris”) would have provided the soundtrack to a lot less slow dances at high school proms and weddings if they’d stuck with their original (kind of awesome) name. When a promoter refused to book them, they changed their name to “Goo Goo Dolls” and ended up selling 9 million albums in the US and having 14 of their songs make the Billboard Top Ten. Okay, never mind–maybe they’re better off as the Goo Goo Dolls.