The Game of the Name

If you want to live the glamorous life of a mock star, you’ll need to come up with a cool name, whether you’re a band or a solo artist. Trouble is, there are myriad other aspiring mock stars that need a name, too. And oftentimes the name you’ve come up with is so good that at least one other artist has arrived at the very same one.

My first band, in the late 1970s/early 1980s, was called Nightwing; it was the title of a book I’d seen somewhere, and it had a cool logo on the cover and everything. Then it turned out that a British band not only had the same idea, but they also had a record deal. We toyed with the idea of calling ourselves American Nightwing (using the example of The Beat/The English Beat), but it did not fall trippingly from the tongue.

Hence, we added a female singer and became Mixed Company; that lineup didn’t last long enough for the name to become an issue. Next we were The Fuse (yes, already taken).

After a glorious respite in which no band name was required, Jim and I set out as a duo called The Thing With Two Heads, which was adaptable to include three or four noggins.

When that band expanded to three or more members, we were briefly The Torpedoes, until a cease-and-desist email somehow found its way to us. So we became The Daly Planets. For a time, that group co-existed with Every Damn Day, a name that was most assuredly unique, until at least three other bands and someone in Nike’s marketing department came up with the same idea. Meanwhile, the Daly Planets became The Planets for the purpose of lending a track to “A Very Indie Christmas”; I neither wrote the song nor sang lead on it, so dropping the “Daly” seemed both appropriate and efficient (more on that later).

EDD went on hiatus in the mid-2000s. The Planets re-emerged as a cover band; when we played originals, we were Mike Daly & The Planets. At some point we started getting pushback from an NYC-based band called The Planets, who had been around since 1972. That said, a bit of Google searching revealed that naming a band “The Planets” is a pretty popular idea. There was even a band by that name at the start of the millennium that opened for Deep Purple and charted with a classical/rock fusion album in the UK. (Does it ever end?)

Now let’s get to the cruelest irony of them all: There are at least two musicians I’m aware of named Mike Daly that are from North Jersey. The other Mike Daly (or TOMD, as he shall henceforth be called) is a very accomplished producer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who’s also a published author! Imagine working for months to land a gig at an NYC club, finally settling on a date, going to the club’s website to confirm, and seeing TOMD’s photo instead of yours! (No, we didn’t get the gig; the promoter thought she was building the show around TOMD!) 

Perhaps I should just change my last name to Bowie.

(P.S. I was born roughly 10 years before TOMD, so I technically have dibs.)

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