On this day in 1963, Nino Tempo and April Stevens went to No.1 on the US singles chart with “Deep Purple”. I love that song. If I was Simon Cowell, I would get Susan Boyle to record a version, it would be a No.1 I tell you, no question. You must watch the video below, they look like they’re having such a great time! The song was also covered with some success by Donnie and Marie Osmond in the 1970s.
Apparently the British rock group Deep Purple took their name from the song. Depending which tale you believe, “Deep Purple” was the favourite song of guitarists Ritchie Blackmore’s mum/gran/great aunt or something like that, so they nicked it as their name. Just as well her favorite song wasn’t “How Much Is That Doggie In The Window” or “Finger Of Suspicion” (hang on, that would make a good name for a rock group: “Ladies and gentlemen, all the way from Phoenix, Arizona, it’s The Fingers of Suspicionnnnnnnn…”).
Coming up with a great name for your band is tough, as anyone who’s tried knows. Not only does it have to sound good, it has to have a message and look good on flyers and the front of that bass drum. You see, go back to 1960 and this was easy, there hadn’t been that many bands so people like The Rolling Stones, The Beatles and The Who had it easy; name your band after one of your favorite artists or records and you were away. But fast forward to the ’00s and bloody hell, everything has been used – you name it and someone has used it.
That’s why a few smart people have named their bands after songs by their favorite artists. You’re not only using a credible piece of pop history, but tipping your cap and showing respect to one of your peers.
So who has carried out this exercise successfully? Scottish group Deacon Blue spring to mind. They named themselves after a song by those clever musical ’70s outfits, Steely Dan. I mentioned these first, as I’m a big fan of both. The brother of a girlfriend of mine (when I was 16) introduced me to the songwriting skills of Becker and Fagen and I was hooked. I still listen to them today. And then 15 years later we got Deacon Blue, a bunch of bright young things form Glasgow, who named themselves after the Steely Dan song “Deacon Blues”. Maybe subconsciously you like the group because you know they’re fans of one of your fave acts?
Some bands have more than others tipping their hats. Take The Smiths. Loads of bands (most of whom have avoided chart success) have cherry picked song titles as their names: Girl In A Coma (the all-girl American group made four albums), Panic At The Disco (good band), Gene (were famous in the UK for five minutes), and Shakespeare’s Sister, who were made up of a former Bananarama and a former Eric Clapton singer. The two girls had that massive No.1 hit “Stay” that did ‘stay’ at the top of the UK charts for ages. It had a good video, you might recall.
And then we have Radiohead, who took their name from a Talking Heads song. David Byrne and his mates were like a new wave Steely Dan, clever sods (Scottish group Big Country also took their name from a Talking Heads song). But nothing wrong with that, they made some great records and Radiohead have done the same. I thought being an old bugger, I’d seen everything any group could deliver live, no new band I would see could ever better the dynamics of Led Zeppelin, the emotion of Springsteen, and the presence of The Rolling Stones – and then I was lucky enough to witness Radiohead in a smallish venue on their OK Computer tour. I came away thinking I’d just seen the greatest rock and roll band in the world. They were brilliant.
And just to finish off, here’s a few more. Roxette are named after Dr. Feelgood’s “Roxette”, The Sisters of Mercy after Leonard Cohen’s “Sisters of Mercy”, Irish punk rockers Stiff Little Fingers after The Vibrators’ “Stiff Little Fingers”, Godsmack after Alice in Chains’ “God Smack”, All American Rejects after the Green Day song “Reject”, Death Cab for Cutie after Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band’s “Death Cab for Cutie”, The Kooks after David Bowie’s “Kooks” from his album Hunky Dory, Madness after Prince Buster’s “Madness”, Starsailor, after Tim Buckley’s “Starsailor” from his album of the same name.
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