First band name?

It occurred to me the other day that band names are a relatively recent innovation. I don’t know exactly when they started, but it seems like any music I’ve heard of prior to about the 1950s is attributed to an individual, or a band named after an individual.

When did the first group of musicians decide that they would be known only by a fictitious name, and who were they?

How about black (or blackface) minstrel troupes in the 1800s? Names like the Ethiopian Serenaders are only semi-descriptive of the actual musicians.

If not the minstrels or vaudeville acts, certainly The Ink Spots qualify, and they were singing in the 1930s.

I don’t reckon they were the first but The Original Dixieland Jass Band were operating in the 1910s. The Inkspots were operating in the 1930s.

**OneCentStamp ** sorry about posting Inkspots again, waited too long in preview!

Let me just say that this promises to be an excellent sequential thread generator (thanks Dave Barry!)

See, I thought about them as well, but do they really qualify? Their name is simply their geographic region and style of music. By that standard, the Virginia Minstrels were performing in 1843, and the New York Philharmonic and Vienna Philharmonic both started in (I believe)1842. All three are groups of musicians going by an assumed collective name.

Ah you’re right I suppose, in my head the term Dixieland didn’t seem as straightly descriptive of locale or genre than the others.

Yeah, I would say that a name that describes a location-specific group of musicians doesn’t really count. I think the Ethiopean Serenaders is in serious running. Wikipedia gives a date of 1844 for one of their performances, but doesn’t claim that that’s when they began.

Did the wandering troops of minstrels and such (which might include circus act type of performers, too) in the Medieval times have names for thier troops?

Baron Munchausen and his Merry Minstrels?

Madam, I’m Adam

Shoot, I thought band names went back to the origin of civilization. So, I was going to say “The Stones.”

In pop music, my guess would be the Teddy Bears.

I’d just like to say that “First Band Name” would be a great name for a band.

Not even close.

The Teddy Bears had their one and only hit in November of 1958. That means they were after the heyday of doo wop groups, since the first doo wop record is generally considered to be The Penguin’s Earth Angel in 1954. There were dozens of similarly named doo-wop groups after that.

For that matter, you could fill a page just with “number” groups in the 50s before the Teddy Bears. Four Aces, The Four Coins, The Four Esquires, The Four Freshmen, The Four Lads, The Four Preps, The Four Voices, The Five Keys, The Three Chuckles, and The Six-Teens [!] all had Top 40 charting hits before 1958. I use them as prime examples because so many earlier bands had numbers in their names.

There is never a time in pop music in which band names don’t exist, as far as I can tell. And of course pop music starts in the early 1800s.

Flipping through Popular Song: Soundtrack of the Century, by Alan Lewens, I find band names of every type and variety of music on virtually every page.

1902’s “Sweet Adeline” was first sung by the Quaker City Four. Sam Cooke came from a gospel group called The Soul Stirrers Black Gospel Quartet. The Ink Spots were popular in the 1930s. Jelly Roll Morton recorded with His Red Hot Peppers. In country music you had The Tennessee Crackerjacks and the Sons of the Pioneers.

Going back into the 19th century, it seems that traveling theatrical performances that we would recognize as musical groups started around 1830 with minstrel shows. These evolved into traveling players, vaudeville, burlesque (not strip tease until well into the 20th century) and a variety of musical types from folk to opera. A good history is With Amusement for All: A History of American Popular Culture Since 1830, by LeRoy Ashby, but it’s too fat and dense to skim at this hour.

I don’t think there is any real answer to the OP’s question. Not matter how far back you go, bands can be found with band names. And any attempt at trying to pin down individual genres is hopeless because no two people ever agree on when music genres started.

A bunch of people get together to make music. They give themselves a name. It’s as old as time.

“Last Band Name” would be better.

**The Smashers. ** Featuring Og on drum.

I wonder what was the first “abstract” band name? By abstract, I mean the sort of name that became popular in the sixties - Traffic, Jefferson Airplane, Cream. That is, names not starting with “the”, or of the form “Fred Jones and his Four Tones” etc.

[QUOTE=Exapno Mapcase]
Not even close.

The Teddy Bears had their one and only hit in November of 1958. That means they were after the heyday of doo wop groups, since the first doo wop record is generally considered to be The Penguin’s Earth Angel in 1954. There were dozens of similarly named doo-wop groups after that.

Interesting post. I am a big Doowop fan myself and have wondered which song is first and what makes a song doowop vs. just a group harmony or standard rhythm and blues song.

Anyway Earth Angel is certainly a classic.

Interesting thing about the teddybears’ song, ithe title was taken from gravestone of the father of one of the singers - Phil Spector - who had his only hit single as a singer with that song.

Robin Hood and his Merrie Men.

With Alan a’ Dale on Lute :smiley:

I can’t tell you who had the first band name, but my father was in a band in the 30’s that was named The Three Musketeers ( and there were four members, of course).