Namechangers: Big-Name Acts That Changed Their Monikers

This weekend the Danish duo War, the punk-tinged multimedia side project of Iceage’s Elias Bender Rønnenfelt, announced that they would be changing their name to Vår. Whether or not this has to do with the California funk band ("Why Can’t We Be Friends”) that’s been kicking since the 1960s is unclear, but it did get us thinking about bands that have changed their names.

Like with any name, when a change occurs, it’s easy for fans to lose track of you and momentum to be lost. But for some bands, things turned out just fine. And in almost every one of those cases, the other group that called dibs on the original name, well, they’re proof that a name alone doesn’t make for success.

David Bowie

When the Thin White Duke first started out, he performed under his given name, David Jones, releasing songs like “Liza Jane” and “I Pity The Fool.” Failing to find success, and worried about being confused with Davy Jones of The Monkees, Jones started performing at David Bowie. Success eluded him for a little while longer, but not much. These days the fake last name is all you need to say to conjure images of a space-man superstar.


Just last week, Dive, the new project from Beach Fossils vet Z. Cole Smith changed its name, which we liked to think of as invoking a great Nirvana song, to DIIV. Why is that? In a statement, Smith said, “Out of respect for Dirk Ivins and the original Dive, this former DIVE has renamed itself. We’ve not been contacted by Dirk Ivins or his lawyers, but the short of it is that I don’t really give a fuck what the band is called. I originated this project in a bedroom with no internet and didn’t know if it would ever leave the bedroom. "DIVE", the word, was an element of what inspired the project in its genesis, but we’ve outgrown the name and its associations. The band is the same, the music is the same, the future will always be the same. A name is nothing." OK then!

Stone Temple Pilots

Originally named Swing, the band that was to become STP changed its name early on to Mighty Joe Young, perhaps a reference to the 1940s box-office bomb. When the blues musician who already performed by that name asked the band to pick a new moniker, they settled on Stone Temple Pilots, although legend has long had it that before STP stood for that, it was an acronym for Shirley Temple’s Pussy.

Charlatans UK

This English band formed in the 1980s and didn’t need the “UK” to explain to people where they were from. When the group was about to embark on their first U.S. tour, however, an American rock band called the Charlatans complained and the UK was tagged onto the end of their name. It didn’t hurt much, the group’s 1992 single “Weirdo” charted on both sides of the pond.

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