David Bruce: 250 Music Anecdotes — Names

From Bruce Anecdotes


• Dave Matthews did not name his band the Dave Matthews Band. Instead, shortly after the group formed, a manager of a club needed a name to put on posters advertising the show. Band horns expert Leroi Moore told the manager to simply put “Dave Matthews” on the posters, as that was enough to ensure an audience, but the manager decided to add “Band” at the end. Mr. Matthews himself jokes that he would like to rename the band as “The Band That Used To Be Called The Dave Matthews Band But Isn’t Any More Because It Was Wrongly Named To Begin With.” Of course, Mr. Matthews is the leader of the band, and band concerts are known not just for the music, but for “Davespeak,” which occurs when Mr. Matthews speaks about whatever he wants to, whether it is his favorite TV show or boxer shorts. Speaking of music, the Dave Matthews Band, like the Grateful Dead, encourages tape-trading. Fans are encouraged to tape the shows and swap tapes with other fans. The Dave Matthews Band has even allowed fans to plug their recording equipment directly into the band’s soundboard. Early in their career, it was possible to get a spot on the board, but now they are so successful that getting a spot may be impossible. (Tape-trading is distinct from bootlegging; bootlegging is done for profit, while tape-trading is not.) Tape-trading helped the Dave Matthews Band gets fans even in places it had not performed in before. Band violinist Boyd Tinsley remembers, “We’d never been to Alabama before. We’d go to this place, and cars would be lined up down the road, and there’d be all these people going to this big club. We’d be sitting in our red van saying, “Oh, my God!” Tape-trading also helped the Dave Matthews Band get a recording contract with a major record label. An intern brought a tape to his boss at RCA Records, and the boss liked what he heard. The boss telephoned another RCA Records VIP in New York to tell him about the Dave Matthews Band. (Full disclosure: Actually, the VIP in New York, Peter Robinson, was already planning to see the Dave Matthews Band in concert that very night.)

• Rapper Kanye Omari West’s mother, Donda, looked through books of African names to find the perfect name for him. Omariis Swahili and means “wise one.” Kanyeis Ethiopian and means “the only one.” Of course, “K.O.” is a boxing term and means knockout. Donda said, “I knew he would be our only child, set apart, and special.” Kanye showed originality as a child, painting objects the colors he wanted to paint them. For example, he painted bananas purple. His mother let him paint the way he pleased. She said, “Kanye always had a distinct perspective. He always had his own spin on things.” She did punish him when he needed to be punished. When Kanye was a teenager, she caught him watching an X-rated video. She made him research the effect that watching such videos has on teenagers, and she made him a write a paper on his research. Kanye is known for his self-confidence, of course, and his self-confidence kept him from getting a record contract early in his career. Columbia Records executive Michael Mauldin was interested in signing Kanye to a record contract, but Kanye bragged during the meeting with him that he was more talented than rapper Jermaine Dupri. Kanye did not know that Jermaine Dupri was Mr. Mauldin’s son; Mr. Mauldin decided not to sign Kanye to a record contract. Kanye has the ability to grow as a person. Early in his career, he discriminated against gays, but when he learned that one of his cousins was gay, he changed his attitude. Kanye said, “It was kind of a turning point when I was like, ‘Yo, this is my cousin. I love him and I’ve been discriminating against gays.’”

• Neil Gaiman named his daughter Holly after a famous transvestite: Holly Woodlawn, an Andy Warhol superstar whom Lou Reed celebrated in his song “Walk on the Wild Side.” When Holly was 19 years old, Mr. Gaiman played the song for her. As the song began, she said, “You named me from this song, didn’t you?” Mr. Gaiman replied, “Yup.” She listened to it carefully, really hearing the words for the first time: “Shaved her legs and then he was a she.” She asked, “He?” Mr. Gaiman replied, “That’s right. You were named after a drag queen in a Lou Reed song.” Holly grinned and said, “Oh, Dad. I do love you.”


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


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