When a band's name doesn’t have to stay the same

As the Irish group formerly known as Lynched transition to their new moniker of Lankum, Ed Power looks at some of the other bands who’ve changed their title in mid stream

Lankum were formerly known as Lynched, but felt the need to change their name.

HIGHLY-RATED trad band Lynched recently announced a change of name. In the age of Black Lives Matters and the diversity debate, “Lynched” carried too much baggage.

“We will not continue to work under our current name while the systemic persecution and murder of black people in the USA continues,” the Dubliners said in a statement. Henceforth they would trade as Lankum — named after an old Traveller ballad.

The group aren’t the first to feel obliged to switch monikers. A band’s original choice often turns out to be already taken, or there may be connotations they are anxious to avoid. Here are some examples.

Pearl Jam

The grunge godfathers started out as Mookie Blaylock — after the New Jersey Nets basketball star.

However, his name was deemed a brand which meant it could not be appropriated by a rock band. Hence Pearl Jam — which the group originally claimed was named for a home-made jam made by singer Eddie Vedder’s mother (he has since denied this, though her name was indeed Pearl).

Led Zeppelin

When Jimmy Page left The Yardbirds to start his own beat-combo, the best name he could come up with was the not terribly original “New Yardbirds”. One cease-and-desist letter later and Led Zeppelin was born (the title came from a quip by The Who’s Pete Townshend that the enterprise would sink like a balloon fashioned from base metals).

Linkin Park

The rap-rock stadium fillers initially traded as Hybrid Theory. When another band called Hybrid complained they decided on Lincoln Park instead. Alas, the domain name lincolnpark.com was too expensive to acquire — so they opted for a wonky alternate spelling. The rest is ear-drum bothering history.

Westlife

Would Louis Walsh’s treacle- merchants have been quite so simpering had they gone with their original choice of Westside? We’ll never know — it quickly emerged there were already several groups with that very name, so the “street” handle was ditched in favour of the more syrupy Westlife.

Chicago

The soft rockers’ first choice was Chicago Transit Authority. This was a little too close for comfort for bureaucrats at the City of Chicago so the band lopped off the final two words. It was at least better than their first choice: The Big Thing.

Massive Attack

The trip-hop pioneers are still going strong with their original name. Yet during the Gulf War one of their managers advised that they call themselves Massive. With the conflict ongoing, it was feared they would not receive any airplay as Massive Attack.

Hence, the band are credited as Massive on the sleeve of the single ‘Unfinished Sympathy’ while a quarter of the initial UK pressings of debut album Blue Lines identify the group by their stripped-down title.

The Chemical Brothers

Nineties big-beat champions Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons made little secret of their debt to American production duo The Dust Brothers, who worked on The Beastie Boys’ Paul’s Boutique and Beck’s Odelay (and, less impressively, Hanson’s MmmBop).

Yet the Londoners arguably took their hero worship too far by pinching their idols’ alias. No writs were issued — but, as Rowlands and Simons prepared to put out their first album, it was pointed out that perhaps they should reconsider their name, and sooner rather than later.

Jayne County

The cult country singer ditched the original stage name of “Wayne County” after undergoing a gender change through the use of female hormones. The artist’s original name was Wayne Rogers — Wayne County is the administrative district in which Detroit is located. It was chosen by Jayne/Wayne to honour Michigan musicians such as Iggy Pop.

Lankum (formerly Lynched) play Live at St Luke’s in Cork on Sunday, April 16


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