Listomania: Top 5 Musical Acts Legally Forced to Change Their Name
Eisley was formerly Moss Eisley. Damn you George Lucas!
In this week's print edition Daniel Hopkins catches up with regional darlings Eisley in advance of their show this week at The Loft, in the process reminiscing about the numerous ups and downs in their nearly decade-long career. We too were thinking about the early days of the band this week, and the long drives we'd take to see the band--then known as Moss Eisley--when they'd play at The Revelation Room out in Canton.
When the band signed to Warner Brothers Records in 2003 they were strongly urged, at the bequest of the label, to adopt a new moniker in order to preempt a potential lawsuit from vainglorious Star Wars producer George Lucas. In light of this experience from the band's past, we present the following list of other band's similarly forced to change their names midstream strictly for legal purposes.
Chicago In 1970, Chicago Transit Authority released their eponymous double debut album which earned platinum status shortly thereafter based on the strength of singles "Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?", "Beginnings", and "Questions 67 and 68". Before their next release, the band opted to shorten their name when the real operator of mass transit within the Chicago city limits threatened legal action.
Dinosaur Jr In 1985 Dinosaur recorded their self-titled debut in a home studio for just $500, and quickly caught the ear of Sonic Youth who invited the band on tour. In 1987 the band released their follow-up, You're Living All Over Me, which included the hits "Show Me The Way" and "Just Like Heaven". Early issues of the album were even shipped with the Dinosaur name before a lawsuit from The Dinosaurs, a supergroup featuring members of Country Joe and the Fish, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Hot Tuna, Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane, forced the album to be recalled and reshipped with the "Jr" added to the band's name.
The Jacksons Despite being one of the biggest bands of the early 1970's, The Jackson Five were facing declining sales and popularity by mid-decade. Many believed it was the fault of their label Motown Records, who refused to allow the brothers to play their own instruments or record their own material in-studio. In 1975 CBS Records not only offered the band the creative freedom they were looking for, but around 17% higher royalties as well. After Motown couldn't match the deal, they sued the band over breach of contract as a sort of last ditch effort citing the fact that they still maintained ownership over the Jackson 5 trademark. Following the break the band changed their name, starred in their own variety show, and released the double platinum Destiny.
Diddy Because the music industry is a global marketplace bands occasionally are required to amend their names specifically for other country's markets. Such was the case with Richard "Diddy" Dearlove, the British musician who felt that P. Diddy's decision to drop the "P" in 2005 infringed on his claim to the nickname, and followed with the appropriate lawsuit. As a result the American rapper is still referred to as P. Diddy in the U.K. as well as New Zealand. But this a fairly common problem in the music industry. See: English Beat, Wham UK, The London Suede, and Charlatans UK just to name a few.
Green Jellÿ The comedy rockers are most well-known (we use the term loosely) for their minor hit "Three Little Pigs" which was released in 1992 while the band was still known as Green Jellö. Little known tidbits about the song: the band's drummer at the time was none other than Danny Carey, who would later go on to drum for Tool, and who's future bandmate Maynard James Keenan can be heard as the voice of the pigs screaming "Not by the hair on my chinny chin chin". The song was re-released in 1993 under the band's new name after they were sued by Kraft foods for sullying the good name of Bill Cosby's favorite brand of pudding snacks.
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The Doors of the 21st Century Sometimes the leader of a band dies before the surviving members are quite ready to let go of their meal ticket. In 2002 when 50% of The Doors decided to reform and tour with Ian Asbury of The Cult replacing the deceased Jim Morrison, former Doors drummer John Densmore sued his former bandmates alleging that they "ran off with stolen property" by continuing to use their old name. The court agreed and The Doors became the unstable Doors of the 21st Century and eventually the even less succinct 'Ray Manzarek and Robby Krieger of The Doors'.
See also: Creedence Clearwater Revival who became Creedence Clearwater Revisited upon the departure of frontman John Fogerty to pursue a solo career.
Rockstar Supernova The band was formed when Tommy Lee, Jason Newstead, and Gilby Clarke opted to hold a rocker version of American Idol to find a frontman for their new project. Unfortunately in the months it took to meticulously plan, cast, and film the program nobody from CBS ever took the time to check to see if the band's proposed name was in fact available. Alas the California pop-punkers with dibs on the name, and whose only claim to fame was that "Chewbacca" song on the Clerks soundtrack got to keep the name. Tommy Lee's outfit confusingly renamed with the exact name of their former reality show and soon after both outfits returned to obscurity.
Santigold This one is pretty easy. In 2008 Santogold's self-titled album blew up, appearing on many of the most respected 'best of' lists by the end of the year. In 2009 she was named in an infringement lawsuit by the sleazy late night infomercial gold pitchman Santo Victor Rigatuso. In the suit Rigatuso cites an obscure 1980's movie he produced called Blood Circus which contains a brief scene featuring the fictional singer Santo Gold who croons mid-film about Rigatuso's real life jewelry business. Not wanting to give the creeper any more unwarranted publicity, the singer born Santi White changed to Santigold. Rigatuso's bus was later sued by the US Postal Service for alleged fraud. Paybacks are a bitch, huh?
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