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Top 5 Backup Band Names

February 9, 2017


Splendid logo by Sarca @ caughtmegaming


With the Artist of the Week Series, I’m hoping to do at least a Top 5 with each Artist.

In honour of Elvis Costello’s tendency to perform under his own name (accompanied by a backup band), I give you the Top 5 Backup Band Names.

Not necessarily the Top 5 Backup Bands, but 5 Backup Band Names that are more than deserving of some time in the foreground.



5. The Attractions, Elvis Costello and
Though The Imposters, Elvis Costello and, is honourable-mention-worthy.


4. The Bad Seeds, Nick Cave and
Will be featured as an Artist of the Week later this year.


3. The Spiders From Mars, Ziggy Stardust and
So, where were the Spiders?


2. The Heartbreakers, Tom Petty and
Nice to see Ringo & George make a cameo in this video!


1. The News, Huey Lewis and
See Venn Diagram below 🙂





Verbalize the Positive

Cheers to Amrita @ ofopinions for the idea of listing the backup bands by their “Yodaen” syntax!

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  1. I like the idea of ranking by band names and, coincidentally, I’d put a couple of them in the running for best back up bands. That would make an excellent series too! BTW, I heard that Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers are heading out on the road and I hope that rumor is true.
    Thanks for another great list. 🙂

    • I’d love to see Petty live – feels like he (and The Heartbreakers!) would put on a fine show. Thanks Danica!

  2. I don’t actually think I have any “and the…” bands in my collection!

    • LOL. It’s not really a metal thang, is it? But it should be. Gash and The Bloodsuckers. Joe Mortician and the Corpsewranglers…

      • Or I’d love to see a misleadingly cute title “Billy & The Butterflys” for one of those black metal artists!

      • Actually I thought of one!… but it’s not metal. I have a couple of albums by Gene Vincent and the Blue Caps. Yay!

      • Yay! Did they sport blue caps when performing? Or was it just a clever name?

      • They’re wearing them on the cover but I don’t know how dogged they were about wearing their appointed millinery.

      • The closest to a heavy metal “and the” band in my collection would be female-fronted occult rockers Jess and the Ancient Ones — whose debut album I’d recommend without qualm to almost anyone.

      • I wonder who’d win in a stand off between them and Josie and the Pussycats?

  3. Jo Jo Zep & The Falcons were big in Oz in the late 70s and early 80s. They were a great night out. Understandable that you might have missed them, but no ? & The Mysterians? Come ON, Geoff!!

  4. I would flip your Number 1 and Number 2 just based on personal preference. Still,you cannot go wrong with either one…
    My fav Petty album is the one without the Heartbreakers(Full Moon Fever) there ya go!
    How was the show last night?

    • I bet the same is true with some Neil Young & Crazy Horse fans – favourite albums might end up being the ones sans Crazy Horse!

  5. The Dudes of Leisure (Bryan Adams)

    • I think you were the one who introduced me to the BA band name – I’ve been listening for decades and seen him a couple times, but I didn’t realize Keith Scott & co. had a name, and such a fine one at that!

      • I’m impressed that Keith Scott has been there pretty much since day one and is still there!

  6. I agree with DeKE on 1 and 2. I would add The Blackhearts, Joan Jett and

  7. Zack permalink

    I think Hank Williams III’s band is “the Damn Band.” I really like the sound of that.

    • That appeals to me too – and seeing the name Hank Williams reminds me that I forgot about Buck Owens and his Buckaroos, that would be Top 5 material!

      • Zack permalink

        There’s always an extra one you forget about with these lists.

  8. Glad to have inspired the listing in whatever small way! Just on the basis of “and the”, do vocal groups like Martha and the Vandellas qualify? Another band, though they don’t get recognized in the title in this way, is The Band.

    • They would qualify for sure, The Band jumped to mind too for me – thanks again for the Yoda-en!

  9. bcturner97 permalink

    Mothers of Invention was the first thing that came to mind.

  10. All excellent choices here. So glad to see Huey and his underappreciated News at #1. Would your top 10 include The E Street Band, The Rumour (Graham Parker), The Wailers (Bob Marley) and The Tennessee Three (Johnny Cash)?

    On a semi-related note, I used to play in a band with a guy named Chris Nash. The original band name before I joined was his name plus followed by a group name I can’t remember (but it was bad). Since a lot of our songs had a Tom Petty vibe I suggested “Chris Nash & The Petty Thieves.” The name stuck and I think we were that much better because of it. 😀

    • Those additions would make for a pretty formidable top 10!
      I quite the adjective ‘petty’ thieves, both for the Tom Petty wordplay but also the modesty that the band wasn’t into more large-scale thievery!

  11. Oh! I like this… hard to look beyond The Bad Seeds, I reckon. I’d add The Cardinals, The Sweet Hereafter, The Hurtin’ Albertans, Crazy Horse…

    • Hurtin’ Albertans? I immediately looked it up – that’s fantastic!

      • Yeah, a great name. Some great players and I thought you would appreciate the name!

  12. Did you know that the News were basically Costello’s backing band on My Aim Is True?

    • I didn’t realize that – they did a fine job there too!

      • Just to clarify, it wasn’t The News on “My Aim Is True.” The band Clover, whose last two albums included Huey Lewis and future News-er Sean Hopper (as well as future Doobie Brother John McFee), played on Elvis’ debut…although Huey did not. He was likely hanging out with his buddy, Thin Lizzy’s Phil Lynott, at the time.

        I highly recommend the Clover albums “Unavailable” and “Love On The Wire” to any Huey & The News fans. There’s another singer on about half the songs but he’s really good and the music is great.

      • Sorry, my bad – I read that somewhere, but should have checked before I posted.

  13. So many Canadians here, and no mention of Frank Marino & Mahogany Rush?

    I’m also partial to Richard Hell & the Voidoids, Adam & the Ants, and Gary Numan & Tubeway Army. And how ’bout the guy who went there first, Johnny Thunders & the Heartbreakers?

  14. Great list. Here’s another Top 5 iconic backing band names!

    Crazy Horse
    Double Trouble
    The Wailers
    The E Street Band

    See? So iconic, I didn’t even need to say the artist name and you still knew them all!

    • That’s a brilliant point – do you know the band without the front-person? If so, that’s iconic status – and all 5 meet that description here, nice choices!

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