Original names of the Beach Boys and other iconic groups might surprise you

Find out who was called what when these top groups started out and why some of their names were changed.

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Top groups with their original names

Joy Division

The new wave pioneers played their first gig as Warsaw in a reference to David Bowie’s instrumental “Warszawa” from his Low album. They had been gigging for several months before deciding there was a clash with a punk band Warsaw Pakt. They picked the name Joy Division using that of a wing at a Nazi concentration camp in a novel, House Of Dolls. Joy Division played their first gig under the new name in January 1978 but kept Warsaw on that billing to ensure fans knew who they were.  


Kurt Cobain had a few near misses with names for the group he formed. Starting out as The Sellouts, they progressed through Skid Row, Pen Cap Chew, Bliss, and Ted Ed Fred as names. Eventually settling on Nirvana which Cobain liked for being beautiful, nice, and pretty. For their first gig as Nirvana in 1988 they used all their previous names on the posters.

Led Zeppelin

Formed from The Yardbirds, whom Jimmy Page had been playing with. He was joined in a new variation, The New Yardbirds, by John Bonham, Robert Plant, and John Paul Jones. The band was all there. 

A dispute arose with previous Yardbirds member Chris Dreja over naming, legal action allowed New Yardbirds only for a Scandinavian tour and a fresh name had to be found. Page’s memory went back to a comment made a couple of years before. Keith Moon and John Entwistle of The Who had been recording a track with him and Jeff Beck. The Who guys reckoned Beck and Page as a supergroup that would be an issue, ‘It’d go down like a lead balloon’ was the phrase that stuck in Page’s mind. That developed into Led Zeppelin and the new name was taken on.