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Rule Two—Lessons Of Rock Success: Establish The Name*

July 8, 2010

We got this band together, the Banana Convention. • Greg, The Brady Bunch

My sporadic, mostly out-of-townish obsession with band names is long-standing. I was once an Academia Nut and with my partner nut, Mike Jager, I keynoted and presented at conferences and wrote curriculum. The Decades Project was one of our curricular creations. We explored history decade by decade, looking for information bypassed by textbooks. In an exercise from The Sixties: A New Twist (This Will Intrigue Students & Teachers), we asked students to create their own name, logo, and look–all sixties’ inspired–for an aspiring rock group, mimicking names like Ball Point Banana and Frosted Suede.

There were plenty of examples since the sixties gave birth to an explosion of imaginative band names that linked unexpected words and phrases: Chocolate Watchband. Electric Prunes. The Peanut Butter Conspiracy. Daisy Overkill. Ultimate Spinach. Strawberry Alarm Clock. Other names I love from this period include:

The Charging Tyrannosaurus of Despair
Frumious Bandersnatch
(a reference to Lewis Carroll’s poem, “Jabberwocky”)
The Only Alternative and His Other Possibilities
Transantlantic Chicken Wicken No. 5
Hmmm

Hmmm indeed.

Beyond the sixties, I love A Cat Born in an Oven Is Not a Cake, Frogs Don’t Cry, Jabbering Trout, Two Cow Garage, and The New Squids on the Dock. And then there’s The Baby Won’t Eat His Corn Dog and People with Chairs Up Their Noses.

This is just a warning. Chicago, Portland, and Washington, D.C., band name stuff is on its way.

You know what I’m going to ask. Just do it! Name your band. And don’t think just because you’ve done this before that you can stop. Before the Beatles became the Beatles, they were the Beat Makers, Johnny and the Moondogs, the Nurk Twins (John and Paul only), the Quarrymen, the Rainbows, Ricky and the Red Streaks, and the Silver Beatles.

In my fantasy, I have a band named Fix Your Own Damned Supper and my first song is called “Unless Your Arms Are Broken, You’ll Have to Wash Your Own Dirty Clothes.” Mothers everywhere will download it. • Comment regarding women’s work at my exhibit, “You & Your Big Mouth: Insight and Irreverence from Irrepressible Women.”

* Thanks to Malcolm McLaren, performer and former manager of the Sex Pistols and the New York Dolls, for the title quotation.

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