When A Band’s Name Should Not Be The Same

I’m going to stun you today with a blatantly hard-lined opinion.

No, it won’t be about politics or war or gas prices or how people make you take off their shoes and put on those little hospital booty things before you walk into their homes and onto their pristine white carpets. No, it won’t be about vegans or manipulating crops with questionable practices or about those people who insist you shake their hand again a second time since their opinion is that the first time you did it…your hand shake sucked.

No, today I’d like to talk about bands. And their names. And when they should be changed.

You may have recently heard that the band Guns n’ Roses was gearing up to go back on tour. Yes, Axl Rose finally got his head out of wherever it had been and had gotten the band back together again. It was Axl and…um, none of the original guys from the original band that made Guns n’ Roses the success that it was. No, not even Slash. Yet, even though the band that made up Guns n’ Roses wasn’t the same band at all — they were going to be allowed to tour around the country using that same original name.

And I’m totally against this.

I don’t care if you still have half of the same people in the band, you’re no longer the same band. And as a result, you shouldn’t be able to use the same name. Now, that doesn’t mean you can’t use a name that’s partly-similar to the original name since the band still partly contains some of the same members.

So, for example, in the case of Guns n’ Roses I’d be okay if they went ahead and renamed the band Firearms n’ Flowers.

Still has the same general theme going on there, with us talking about revolvers and firearms in general and contrasting that violent image against the soft, beautiful theme of growth and flowers and plants and terra firma itself. And people hearing that name and knowing that Axl Rose would be headling such concerts — they’d know what was up. Immediately they’d understand that the band would be similar to the previous incarnations, but due to the slight name change, that the band would also be slightly changed.

Some musicians don’t like trying to come up with new names and as a result of their lazy attitudes they simply keep the original name. That’s why I’d like to help each of these bands out (the ones who have changed the members of their bands yet still continue to tour under the original name) by giving them alternatives they should go with.

  • Chicago, who got rid of the greatest singer ever (Peter Cetera) should no longer be able to go by a name referring to a great big city. Because since Chicago is no longer the “great big band” they once were, they should instead go with a smaller, more quaint city. So, that being said…Chicago should change their name to Skokie. I mean, can’t you hear it? “Dude, I’m going to Skokie to see Skokie in concert!” Yeah, perfect.
  • When Journey got rid of Steve Perry and replaced him with another look-alike, sound-alike Steve Perry, it didn’t impress me at all. The “journey” the band had taken was now being reduced to a smaller, less impressive Walkabout. And that’s why that should be their new name. Or, if you really don’t like their choice of a new lead singer, you could downgrade their journey into an even smaller journey, dubbing them Taking A Stroll Around The Corner With My Dog. Listen, if there can be a band called “The Travelling Wilburrys” or “Everything But The Girl” there can surely be Taking A Stroll Around The Corner With My Dog.
  • It was a sad day with Michael Hutchence of INXS committed suicide. But wasn’t it even more depressing and overdone when the band allowed a reality TV show to pick their new lead singer? I think you agree they went overboard, and this whole act of doing things “in excess” should have been adjusted by the choosing of a new name that illustrated their latest actions. That’s why the band should be called Gluttony. Besides being a pretty hip name, it also gives audiences expectations that fall in line with just what the band is.
  • Yeah, so what about Van Halen? After David Lee Roth left, soon came Sammy Hagar. After Sammy Hagar, the lead singer from ExTreme. It was like a huge game of musical chairs with the remaining members of the band. So what do you rename a band that is constantly shifting people in and out of their band? You name them SUV Halen. And if you’re like me, and you consider the non-word “Halen” to really translate into a phrase like “Hail ‘en” (“Billy was hail ‘en a cab”) — then you could potentially name the band SUV Callin’ For A Cab which is both humorous (giving the band a well-needed sense of humor) and wildly rebellious, while responsible for calling for a cab in the first place instead of driving home drunk, which rock stars normally do. And really, do we need the children of today thinking it’s okay to drive home drunk? I say no.

In summary, there are too many bands to cover here (and you’re welcome to help out in the cause of renaming them in the comments section if you so see fit). There are too many musicians who achieve success with a certain configuration of members and then think that touring 10 years later with new members but the same exact name is okay. Well, it’s not.

Either change your name like you changed your band, or face the consequences. Either adjust the expectations of your fans, or face ridicule. Either change your name from Judas Priest to The Altar Boys or don’t expect me to show up to your latest reunion concert.

That’s my opinion and I’m sticking to it.

24 comments on “When A Band’s Name Should Not Be The Same

  1. Chase - July 3, 2006 at 10:25 am -

    I’ve gotta give this one a big, resounding AMEN, Brotha Pauly!

    I went to see Skid Row a few years ago…but without all the Sebastian Bach. THE SINGER. They kinda sucked. Even harder than the REAL Skid Row would have sucked.

    Maybe they shoulda changed their name, too. Perhaps Living Off Of Food Stamps But Making It Ok …or even… I Need A Second Job Because WOW, Look At The Gas Prices These Days.

    To make it worse, it was a free show. At the Tulsa State Fair. Next to the horse barns. In Tulsa. In Oklahoma. Yeah.

  2. Jerry - July 3, 2006 at 10:40 am -

    I once went to some hick town and sat in a muddy field to see Bad Company (8th Edition). I realized at some point that I didn’t care for their performance, actually hated all the songs for which the original Bad Company members were famous and that I was only there get completely trashed. The next day I enrolled myself in a 12 step program.

    Hi, my name is Jerry. It’s been 17 years, 11 months and 16 days since I attended my last same-name-all-new-members band concert.

  3. Pauly D - July 3, 2006 at 1:20 pm -

    I just want to make sure anyone getting ready to blast Night Ranger (of “Sister Christian” fame) put their whoop-ass back in the can. They’re still playing with the original configuration and are still as kick-ass as they’ve always been.

  4. Jerry - July 3, 2006 at 1:39 pm -

    honest, Paul. I just downloaded Sister Christian onto the IPOD last night. Part of my Eighties throwback category. Night Ranger would have never been on my list of bands that nol onger deserve the copyright to their name.

  5. Kevin - July 3, 2006 at 1:47 pm -

    I’ve said my piece about INXS before. No need to go into it again.

    However, for G’n’R, I must say I prefer Pistols ‘n’ Petunias. Sound good?

  6. Jeff - July 3, 2006 at 1:50 pm -

    I was at the Taste of MN festival last night and saw “Davie Jones of the Monkees.” He wasn’t too bad when he sang his songs but he sucked when he tried to cover Mickey’s songs. But then he never really had that many good songs of his own to start with.

    Better idea? Don’t go on tour!

  7. JM - July 3, 2006 at 3:07 pm -

    “Halen” to really translate into a phrase like “Hail ‘en” (“Billy was hail ‘en a cab”)

    Wow. How did you ever come up with something as clever as that?

  8. Pauly D - July 3, 2006 at 3:11 pm -

    JM – Sometimes genius just comes to me.

  9. JM - July 3, 2006 at 3:20 pm -

    It must! That is the most genius line you have ever written ever in forever. I am now your fan forever and a day x forever x infinityforever.

  10. sandra - July 3, 2006 at 4:02 pm -

    Guns & Roses would be fun to re-name, if nothing else! Clubs & Petunias…knives and daisies…god, the choices are endless. If nothing else, not re-naming the band is a case of squandered creativity.

  11. Jennifer - July 3, 2006 at 4:38 pm -

    I went to a Chicago concert a few weeks ago. Boy, did it suck.

  12. Brooke - July 3, 2006 at 6:08 pm -

    I love this post. Brilliant.

    But could you repeat the part about Peter Cetera being the best singer ever? I didn’t get that.

  13. Annika - July 3, 2006 at 7:04 pm -

    May I suggest The Nickel for Skid Row? It is much less wordy than the otherwise excellent suggestions above.

  14. Pauly D - July 3, 2006 at 7:56 pm -

    Kevin – Pistols & Petunas? I don’t know, I mean I like the alliteration but don’t you far prefer Firearms & Flowers?

    Brooke – Peter. Cetera. Best. Singer. Ever. (For Chicago.)

    Annika – The Nickel? Please explain. I’d go with The Poor Part of Town, instead.

  15. FrancesDanger - July 3, 2006 at 8:18 pm -

    I love this post!

    Heads up on Axl: The name of the band never should have been Guns N’ Roses. Originally it was Axl with the guitarist Tracii Guns of LA Guns. When Tracii left to form LA Guns Axl kept the name, even though there was not a Gun in the bunch!

    Perhaps the name should be Axl and Some Other Guys As Yet To Be Determined and Subject To Leaving At Anytime?

  16. jacquie - July 3, 2006 at 8:21 pm -

    So do you think that when people such as Madonna or Harry Connick, change their style of music, they should also change their names?

  17. Trouble - July 3, 2006 at 8:26 pm -

    First, a mighty congratulations on the book and a well done on the TV appearance I caught.

    Second, excellent post! May I throw another band into the fray? The current incarnation of Lynrd Skynrd needs a new name that allows them to make money off their southern rock idoldom without disturbing the graves of their founding, inspired members.

    How about Sweet Alabama Freebird?

  18. Pauly D - July 3, 2006 at 8:26 pm -

    Jacquie – Nope. Because it’s still them. Now if Simon & Garfunkel got rid of Paul Simon, I would not allow Art Garfunkel to keep the name Simon & Garfunkel. But Madonna? Harry Connick? As long as the band or artist “in the band” is the same as before, they can keep on’ keepin’ on.

  19. treespotter - July 4, 2006 at 7:10 am -

    and they’re still talking that Chinese Democracy nonsense?

    kevin: i like that suggestion, Pistols n Petunias.

    should we rename Bon Jovi?
    they just seem gay lately.

  20. Annika - July 4, 2006 at 8:44 am -

    The Nickel being 5th Street downtown, aka Skid Row. Sorry, I forget sometimes that my references are vague.

  21. Amy - July 4, 2006 at 9:51 am -

    Happy 4th of July!

  22. Eve - July 5, 2006 at 4:46 pm -

    I have done more than my fair share of complaining about the whole GnR thing, and I too, have lots of issues with bands changing important members but keeping the name. If you heard that a band is playing a concert and you have to ask, “Oh, who’s in the band nowadays?” then screw that.

    What is your stance if a popular member dies, like in AC/DC? Should they have changed their name? (I’m on the fence on this one.)

    Oh and I love Night Ranger too. I’ve seen them a bunch of times, they’re always great live.

  23. jafer - July 5, 2006 at 5:05 pm -

    Two simple words: I agree… whole-heartedly (I was never good at math).

  24. T. Malone - July 6, 2006 at 10:40 pm -

    I friggin’ loved this post. “SUV Callin’ For A Cab” – awesome.

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