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?

I don’t know about the first, but I’ll submit Mother Macree’s Uptown Jug Champions.


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).

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.

Here’s one from 1969

Cream; 1966

CREAM started in 1966

That’s gotta be it.

I wonder how people reacted. “What, is it ‘The Creams’?” Clapton being a known quantity must have helped.

Jefferson Airplane, 1965

Jefferson Airplane formed in 1965.

ETA: Ninja high five!

I found a list that says Steppenwolf - 1961.

That list would be incorrect. Steppenwolf wasn’t until 1967.

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.

Pink Floyd started in '65

Herman’s Hermits in '63

When did Vanilla Fudge start?

Pink Floyd started out with the

I guess I don’t need to finish that sentence.

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.

Them - 1964
Quicksilver Messenger Service - 1965
Jefferson Airplane - 1965

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.