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Old 11-16-2018, 11:38 AM
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What was the first popular band to not have "the" in their name?

All the early rock bands had names following the same rubric: The (insert plural of something). The Crickets, the Beach Boys, the Beatles, etc.

The Who sort of broke this mold with its pronoun. (Must have seemed crazy radical at the time.) But by the late 60s, you had band names that completely escaped it: Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, etc.

So what was the first band with a non-"the" name?
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Old 11-16-2018, 11:42 AM
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I don't know about the first, but I'll submit Mother Macree's Uptown Jug Champions.
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Old 11-16-2018, 11:57 AM
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I don't know about the first, but I'll submit Mother Macree's Uptown Jug Champions.
Awesome!

I should have clarified though -- I'm looking for a non-plural, non-"the" name. In other words, a name that didn't imply "we're a bunch of guys all calling ourselves the same thing" (like a sports team), but more like "we're all the same entity" (like a business).
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Old 11-16-2018, 12:00 PM
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The Who recorded I Can't Explain in 1964 so they may have been the first with any popularity that did not have a The <plural> name.

Looking through lists of #1 records the first one I see without "The" at all is Incense and Peppermints by Strawberry Alarm Clock in 1967. It doesn't mean they were the first but they were the leading edge of the psychedelic bands with correspondingly absurdist names.
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Old 11-16-2018, 12:08 PM
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The Who recorded I Can't Explain in 1964 so they may have been the first with any popularity that did not have a The <plural> name.

Looking through lists of #1 records the first one I see without "The" at all is Incense and Peppermints by Strawberry Alarm Clock in 1967. It doesn't mean they were the first but they were the leading edge of the psychedelic bands with correspondingly absurdist names.
I haven't searched but I think there would be at least as many cites for "The Straw..." as "Straw..."

They did the tune in Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. I'll check the credits.
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Old 11-16-2018, 12:09 PM
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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Speckled_Bird_(band)
Here's one from 1969
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Old 11-16-2018, 12:10 PM
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Cream; 1966

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Old 11-16-2018, 12:11 PM
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CREAM started in 1966
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Old 11-16-2018, 12:16 PM
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Cream; 1966
That's gotta be it.

I wonder how people reacted. "What, is it 'The Creams'?" Clapton being a known quantity must have helped.
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Old 11-16-2018, 12:22 PM
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Jefferson Airplane, 1965
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Old 11-16-2018, 12:24 PM
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Jefferson Airplane formed in 1965.

ETA: Ninja high five!

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Old 11-16-2018, 12:30 PM
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I found a list that says Steppenwolf - 1961.
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Old 11-16-2018, 12:33 PM
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I found a list that says Steppenwolf - 1961.
That list would be incorrect. Steppenwolf wasn't until 1967.
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Old 11-16-2018, 12:33 PM
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Les Brown and His Band of Renown? They were popular all the way back in the thirties.

There was Jan & Dean in the fifties.

But I feel these aren't really in the spirit of what the OP is asking.

So the best answer is probably Unit 4 + 2, a rather obscure British band which had a Number 1 hit "Concrete and Clay" in 1965. They formed the band in 1962 as Unit 4 (and later added two more members) and released their first single in 1964.
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Old 11-16-2018, 12:35 PM
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Pink Floyd started in '65

Herman's Hermits in '63
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Old 11-16-2018, 12:43 PM
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When did Vanilla Fudge start?
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Old 11-16-2018, 12:44 PM
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Pink Floyd started out with the

I guess I don't need to finish that sentence.
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Old 11-16-2018, 12:44 PM
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Everly Brothers were billed both with and without "The." As did (The) Strawberry Alarm Clock, and (The) Blues Magoos, so there probably wasn't a hard and fast rule for a long time.

Manfred Mann was named after their keyboardist because their manager thought it sounded a lot cooler than the Mann-Hugg Blues Brothers. Jefferson Airplane seems to be the first U.S. group to completely go without The with their Takes Off album in 1965, although they didn't hit the charts until 1966.
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Old 11-16-2018, 12:47 PM
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Them - 1964
Quicksilver Messenger Service - 1965
Jefferson Airplane - 1965
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Old 11-16-2018, 12:52 PM
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My guess is that this became possible when rock and roll got enough cultural penetration to make this kind of gesture. Unit 4 +2 seems like the winner, from 1964, but probably an outlier. To me Cream were the ice breaker by being a supergroup. Led Zep had the kind of attitude that fit perfectly with the gesture, which seems to be a part of hard rock because of that. They even released an LP without any words on the cover. Similar gesture and attitude to me.
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Old 11-16-2018, 01:03 PM
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Simon and Garfunkel had a single out in 1957 under the name Tom and Jerry.
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Old 11-16-2018, 01:14 PM
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Simon and Garfunkel had a single out in 1957 under the name Tom and Jerry.
I don't think groups named for the members (c.f. Jan and Dean, Les Brown) are in the same naming genre as the OP is looking for.

"The Simon and Garfunkel" just doesn't work, so those groups never had "The" in the name, unless there was another noun, like "The Glen Miller Orchestra", or "The Alan Parsons Project" making the names some sort of adjective clause (I'm probably hopelessly mangling the grammar construct there).

As an aside - the spell checker knows Garfunkel, I mistyped it as Garfunkle and got the red squiggly.
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Old 11-16-2018, 01:15 PM
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Everly Brothers were billed both with and without "The." As did (The) Strawberry Alarm Clock, and (The) Blues Magoos, so there probably wasn't a hard and fast rule for a long time.

Manfred Mann was named after their keyboardist because their manager thought it sounded a lot cooler than the Mann-Hugg Blues Brothers. Jefferson Airplane seems to be the first U.S. group to completely go without The with their Takes Off album in 1965, although they didn't hit the charts until 1966.
I don't see an "everly brothers" example.
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Old 11-16-2018, 01:18 PM
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A little research shows Sounds Orchestral from 1965.
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Old 11-16-2018, 01:21 PM
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I have to guess that these bands knew they would be referred to as "The..." even if they weren't.

Phrasings like The pink floyd, the cream, the jefferson Airplane were probably all used in the early ads for these groups to convey that they were groups and not corporations, say.

Buffalo Springfield were another one, from 1966.
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Old 11-16-2018, 02:25 PM
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I can't believe I forgot about Them! That's the new winner.*

Looks like Jefferson Airplane also beat out Cream, although they did once use "The." So did Pink Floyd and Buffalo Springfield, although none of those names makes any more sense with "the" than they do without. I doubt any poster ever touted "The Them."

*until someone else makes me look premature again
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Old 11-16-2018, 02:34 PM
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Chad and Jeremy had a hit in 1960.
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Old 11-16-2018, 02:40 PM
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Phrasings like The pink floyd, the cream, the jefferson Airplane were probably all used in the early ads for these groups to convey that they were groups and not corporations, say.
When I saw Pink Floyd in Boston in '73, they were billed as "The Pink Floyd" on all the marquees. By then there were pretty well known and bands without "the" existed.
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Old 11-16-2018, 02:48 PM
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Neither here nor there, but I recall seeing a ticket for a concert in the early 80's featuring "The U2."
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Old 11-16-2018, 02:51 PM
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Chad and Jeremy had a hit in 1960.
Moving the goalposts again -- I should have also excluded bands that were (or included) people's names. I was really looking for that weird (for the time) concept of a band adopting a singular, non-sequitor-ish concept as their name, e.g. Them, Cream, etc.
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Old 11-16-2018, 02:53 PM
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Neither here nor there, but I recall seeing a ticket for a concert in the early 80's featuring "The U2."
Maybe it was actually an air show?
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Old 11-16-2018, 02:58 PM
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Sounds Incorporated (1961)
probably best known in the US for 1965 "In The Hall Of The Mountain King."
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Old 11-16-2018, 05:48 PM
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I have to guess that these bands knew they would be referred to as "The..." even if they weren't.
Don Henley famously insisted that his band was called Eagles. Not The Eagles. Just Eagles.
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Old 11-16-2018, 06:12 PM
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Why is "The" so popular? Are there alternatives to it that fulfill the same function in some other way?


Were "popular bands" something that started in the 60s as a major cultural phenomenon? If you put "most popular band 1920s" in Google, you can find examples of bands without "The" although I have no idea how popular they were. I guess we haven't culturally retained many bands from before the '60s in the same way we haven't culturally retained many movies from before the '70s.

Last edited by MichaelEmouse; 11-16-2018 at 06:15 PM.
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Old 11-16-2018, 06:30 PM
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I don't see an "everly brothers" example.
Look at the jacket for the album Simply.

Also here and here.

I think it was sloppiness rather than them changing their billing back and forth.
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Old 11-16-2018, 06:53 PM
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Moving the goalposts again -- I should have also excluded bands that were (or included) people's names. I was really looking for that weird (for the time) concept of a band adopting a singular, non-sequitor-ish concept as their name, e.g. Them, Cream, etc.
How about MC5, who formed in 1964?
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Old 11-16-2018, 07:25 PM
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When I saw Pink Floyd in Boston in '73, they were billed as "The Pink Floyd" on all the marquees. By then there were pretty well known and bands without "the" existed.
Were they at the Garden?

My guess is at that moment they weren't Pink Floyd as we think of it yet. They were having their first hit, and DSOTM was new.
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Old 11-16-2018, 07:26 PM
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How about MC5, who formed in 1964?
Does anyone else call them that? I think of them as a the.

I love the way these sentences look.
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Old 11-16-2018, 07:29 PM
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Look at the jacket for the album Simply.

Also here and here.

I think it was sloppiness rather than them changing their billing back and forth.
I think sometimes it's the scansion, the ad copy writer etc.

Weird. I thought London was the US arm of Decca. Here is this Everly Bros 78 on London UK. ??
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Old 11-16-2018, 07:31 PM
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Why is "The" so popular? Are there alternatives to it that fulfill the same function in some other way?


Were "popular bands" something that started in the 60s as a major cultural phenomenon? If you put "most popular band 1920s" in Google, you can find examples of bands without "The" although I have no idea how popular they were. I guess we haven't culturally retained many bands from before the '60s in the same way we haven't culturally retained many movies from before the '70s.
Thee Headcoats

Th'Faith Healers

A Certain Ratio

Every Mothers Son

I think that the beatles were the model of the bands we remember. I think they generate an ambivalence in some because of that. But the answer is yes, the Brit invasion made a new template and it seems to have lasted.

Last edited by drad dog; 11-16-2018 at 07:34 PM.
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Old 11-16-2018, 08:02 PM
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That's gotta be it.

I wonder how people reacted. "What, is it 'The Creams'?" Clapton being a known quantity must have helped.
Early on, the group was referred to as "The Cream" as in "the cream of the crop." That was dropped shortly after their first album's release.
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Old 11-16-2018, 09:50 PM
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Even Yes was called "the Yes" during their first few years. Weird.
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Old 11-16-2018, 10:31 PM
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Does anyone else call them that? I think of them as a the.

I love the way these sentences look.
The Wiki entry consistently calls them just MC5. Every song on YouTube that I looked at does the same. Every album on Amazon is listed as MC5. I'd say you're in the minority.
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Old 11-16-2018, 10:37 PM
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Europe's Society Orchestra recorded ragtime hits in 1913. Definitely popular music of the day, albeit not rock. This does involve a person's name, but here's no the in sight.
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Old 11-16-2018, 11:17 PM
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The Wiki entry consistently calls them just MC5. Every song on YouTube that I looked at does the same. Every album on Amazon is listed as MC5. I'd say you're in the minority.
I agree with you, but there's a wrinkle in that:

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Wiki Article

Rob Tyner performed under his own name for many years but also performed under "The MC5" for some live gigs for a brief period, though he was the only active original member involved.
So, it at least existed.

Plus, my own band attempts to eliminate the definite article. Promoters are indifferent, at best, with complying with our wishes. If it's posted or printed, then that's what it is. We're referred to as "The <insert name of scabpicker's band>" very often. We don't complain, but we're monkeys and there are more important things. MC5 actually seems to have been kind of fastidious about dropping the definite article - I can't find any references to "The MC5" from the band, even though I and my friends refer to them as such*. The only argument I can find against them is that they weren't popular before some of their competitors, and "popular" isn't really something you can quantify.


*C'mon, doesn't it make a part of your brain ache to say "Motor City Five" mentally without putting a "The" in front of it? Maybe that was the point. I'm not sure.

Last edited by scabpicker; 11-16-2018 at 11:19 PM.
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Old 11-17-2018, 12:12 AM
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When I saw Pink Floyd in Boston in '73, they were billed as "The Pink Floyd" on all the marquees. By then there were pretty well known and bands without "the" existed.
Quote:
Originally Posted by drad dog View Post
Were they at the Garden?
They were at A garden...
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Old 11-17-2018, 01:28 AM
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They were at A garden...
The Boston Garden?
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Old 11-17-2018, 01:35 AM
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I agree with you, but there's a wrinkle in that:



So, it at least existed.

Plus, my own band attempts to eliminate the definite article. Promoters are indifferent, at best, with complying with our wishes. If it's posted or printed, then that's what it is. We're referred to as "The <insert name of scabpicker's band>" very often. We don't complain, but we're monkeys and there are more important things. MC5 actually seems to have been kind of fastidious about dropping the definite article - I can't find any references to "The MC5" from the band, even though I and my friends refer to them as such*. The only argument I can find against them is that they weren't popular before some of their competitors, and "popular" isn't really something you can quantify.


*C'mon, doesn't it make a part of your brain ache to say "Motor City Five" mentally without putting a "The" in front of it? Maybe that was the point. I'm not sure.
I have never had a conversation, with and around musicians and their friends, about the MC5, and not used the article. I think it would sound pretentious for me to anyway. So there's that usage thing, fwiw.
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Old 11-17-2018, 01:44 AM
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I have never had a conversation, with and around musicians and their friends, about the MC5, and not used the article. I think it would sound pretentious for me to anyway. So there's that usage thing, fwiw.
It's about 50-50 in my experience. For fun, you can google "MC5 site:boards.straightdope.com" and, from what I see, it seems to break down pretty evenly if people use the article or not.
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Old 11-17-2018, 03:57 PM
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To add one data point to the MC5 case: on their famous debut album which was recorded live, they are vigorously announced by their manager John Sinclair, and the announcement ends with: "I'll give you a testimonial! The MC5!". So at least their original manager called them THE MC5.
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