WTF Is In A Name?

Any band that plans to emerge from its sweaty basement and face the public has to have a name. But to quote Ian Hunter, “all of the good ones are taken.” And even most of the bad ones.

My first proper band was called Nightwing, inspired by a popular paperback novel at the time. I never read it; I just liked the logo, which a friend recreated on poster board so we could use it as a backdrop at gigs. I didn’t know or care about permission, trademarks or copyrights at the time. After all, we were just a bunch of teenagers who weren’t likely to make it out of Haledon, NJ.

Before long, we learned there was a British band called Nightwing that had signed a record deal. We took ourselves seriously enough to briefly adopt the moniker of “American Nightwing,” citing the example of two bands called The Beat, both of whom were on major labels. This was how true music biz professionals had handled it, so we, though still teenagers unlikely to make it out of Haledon, decided to follow suit.

Then we added a female singer and changed our name to Mixed Company. This band quickly suffered the predictable pitfalls of an attractive young woman crammed into a sweaty basement with five heterosexual young men, and soon we became an all-male quartet called The Fuse (guess what: the name was already taken).

By now I’d become a guy with a day job who could no longer suffer the ongoing exasperation of, for example, drummers who sold their kit to buy a dirt bike. At the tender age of 21, I decided to leave my rock ‘n’ roll dreams in that sweaty basement and go to work for The Man.

It took about 8 years or so for the performing bug to bite me again, and I emerged as a solo playing acoustic gigs under my own name (a safe bet, right? Keep reading). This grew into a duo called The Thing With Two Heads, and then a trio, a classic rock cover band we christened The Torpedoes. Soon enough we received a somewhat official-looking cease-and-desist letter from the “other” Torpedoes. Another name change was in order.

Next we were called The Daly Planets, a play on the name of the fictional great metropolitan newspaper that employed the equally fictional Clark Kent. We were soon reminded that there were several ways to spell “DAY-lee,” but at this point I was starting to think that maybe having a band name wasn’t so important.

Simultaneously I found myself fronting an all-original rock band which we named Every Damn Day (another variation on “Da(i)ly … get it?!) A subsequent Google search has since revealed at least two other bands, one song and a multitude of far-too-coincidental Nike T-shirts bearing our logo of that name. Also, due to what I can only assume is a glitch, some of our music on YouTube is attributed to “Avery Damn Day.”

Lastly, we have my most recent, all-original band, Mike Daly & The Planets. Or, as we’ve been advertised, “Mike & The Daly Planets,” “Mike Daly & The Planters,” and “Mike Daly & The Clan,” to list but a few. There are also a few bands known simply as The Planets. One was a British-based outfit formed in the early 2000s. The other is an NYC punk band that got its start in 1972. We’ve run afoul of the latter over use of the name on more than one occasion. My stance is that if both Tom Petty and Johnny Thunders can be backed by very different bands called the Heartbreakers, why fuck with a tried-and-true formula.

Now for the kicker: There’s another musician named Mike Daly from New Jersey. He has his own Wikipedia page and everything. In at least one instance, the confusion has resulted in a booking SNAFU at a pretty well-known New York club.

As it turns out, there are many people named Mike Daly making music all over the United States, not to mention an Australian filmmaker and a guy who owns an aviation company in Texas. It’s varying degrees of annoying and could almost be exhausting if I’d let it.

To think I could probably have avoided all of this if I’d listened to the drummer 40 years ago who suggested we call ourselves GOAT. But why would I take suggestions for band names from a guy who would sell his kit to buy a dirt bike?