The Dixie Chicks made headlines last week when they announced that they've dropped the "Dixie" and will now be known as The Chicks. Lady Antebellum made a similar move a couple of weeks ago, changing their name to Lady A. Both moves seem to have been made to avoid associations with racism, in recognition that those parts of their original names allude to the pre-Civil War era in the south, or to the 11 slave-holding states that seceded to form the Confederacy.
According to articles at Four Over Four and Rolling Stone, lots of well-known bands have had to change their names for all kinds of reasons over the years. Well "all kinds" may be a stretch. It's usually because someone was already using the name and threatened to sue, but not always.
Did you know about all of these?
San Francisco rock band Jefferson Airplane changed first to Jefferson Starship and then to just Starship. The band changed from Airplane to Starship in recognition of lineup changes and the changing times. When Jefferson Airplane co-founder Paul Kantner left the group in the mid-80s, he took the Jefferson part of the name with him. Starship carried on and had a number of Top 40 hits, including "Sara" and "We Built This City".
Chicago was once known as Chicago Transit Authority. The city's mass transit operator threatened legal action and the band shortened their name.
Goo Goo Dolls
Originally known as The Sex Maggots, the band had to find a new name when a club owner refused to have their old name up on his marquee. They took the new name from a magazine ad for a toy called a Goo Goo Doll.
Seattle grunge rock giants Pearl Jam initially called themselves Mookie Blaylock after a favorite NBA player. To avoid confusion, and to make sure they had a name they could trademark and sell merch with, the guys came up with Pearl Jam.
Simon & Garfunkel
Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel started out performing as Tom & Jerry. When they got signed to Columbia Records a name change was in order. Tom & Jerry was already being used by another famous duo.
Mark McGrath's Orange County pop rock outfit played under the name Shrinky Dinks until they signed with Atlantic Records. The threat of a lawsuit from the Milton Bradley Company, makers of the arts and craft toy that had been using the name since 1973, sent the boys looking for a new name.
The English band behind the 1997 smash "Bittersweet Symphony" were just Verve. A record label of the same name filed a lawsuit and the fix was as simple as adding "The".
Stone Temple Pilots
Another huge '90s rock band, these guys were originally called Mighty Joe Young. It turned the name was already being used by a blues musician. They briefly contemplated a much worse name that we won't go into here, but eventually landed on Stone Temple Pilots.
This Northern Irish-Scottish band had several radio hits in the early-mid 2000s. The started out as Polar Bear before learning that another band was already using the name. They stuck with the Arctic theme for the new name.
The recent Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees were originally called On A Friday. They suspected the name might be causing confusion about when their live shows were, so they renamed themselves after the title of a Talking Heads song.
They went by Xero and Hybrid Theory before deciding on Lincoln Park, as an homage to Santa Monica's Lincoln Park (which has itself since been renamed). In order to get the domain name for their website, the band tweaked the spelling to Linkin Park.
Green Day were known as Sweet Children for years and even got signed to a record deal under that name. It was decided before their first album was released that the name might be too close to the band Sweet Baby and confuse fans.
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