Radiohead demo tape from late 1980s featuring unheard songs up for auction
It features three unheard songs
Last updated 18th Jan 2021
An ultra-rare demo tape from the band that would become Radiohead is set to go under the hammer later this month.
The six-track cassette demo entitled ‘Gripe’ originates from 1987/1988 when Radiohead were called On A Friday (a reference to their band rehearsal day) and had just left Abingdon School in Oxfordshire.
According to Omega Auctions, the cassette features three raw Radiohead songs called ‘Promise Me’, ‘Boy In A Box’ and ‘These Chains’ that have never been heard and haven't been previously listed as one of the ‘known’ demos from their On A Friday days.
Handwritten notes and a label design by frontman Thom Yorke are included in the cassette, and it’s estimated to fetch ￡2,000 in the online Punk and Indie Auction on Tuesday 26th January.
The anonymous seller knew the band in the early 90s and was given the tape by a member of Radiohead.
Auctioneer Paul Fairweather says: "The tracks are raw but certainly suggest something of the fantastic potential that the band would realise in a few years’ time.”
A full description for the cassette reads:
“Demo cassette from 1987/88 entitled "Gripe" with Thom designed inlay card. Thom has written on the cassette "Gripe + 3 trax at beginning" and then on the inlay card he has written on the inside "Before the ones overleaf are the following (most recent recordings 1989) Promise Me (Thom), Body(?) in a box (Colin/Thom), These are the Chains (Thom). These 3 tracks are previously unheard and undocumented and in addition to these are the tracks Happy Song, To Be A Brilliant Light and Sinking Ship which are detailed on the red inlay card. An incredible piece of Radiohead early recording history!”
When Radiohead signed a six-album deal with EMI in 1991, the imprint implored them to ditch the On A Friday moniker and they ultimately took their band name from the song 'Radio Head' from Talking Heads' 1986 album 'True Stories'.
If you've got very deep pockets, you can bid on the Radiohead cassette here.
The worst original names of famous bands:
Stereophonics - Tragic Love Company
Members of various bands in their hometown of Cwmaman in the late eighties and early nineties, Kelly Jones, Stuart Cable and Richard Jones eventually became a trio in 1992 and started gigging as Tragic Love Company. The moniker was taken from the name of three of their favourite bands at the time; the Tragically Hip, Mother Love Bone and Bad Company. After they recorded an early demo of their seminal anthem 'A Thousand Trees', local promoter Wayne Coleman booked them to play a series of shows across South Wales on the provision they changed their name. Late-great drummer Stuart Cable got the final name from the 'Falcon Stereophonic' gramophone.
The Stone Roses - The Angry Young Teddy Bears
According to producer John Leckie, who helmed The Stone Roses' seminal self-titled 1989 debut album, the band almost called themselves The Angry Young Teddy Bears. "That's ('The Angry Young Teddy Bears') what the Roses were thinking of calling themselves when I met them," Leckie told Q Magazine in 2016. "It sort of suits them in a funny way. The thing with the Roses is that even though there is a punk heritage, they're hippies. Ian especially. It sounds corny, but there's a lot of love there, and you don't really get that with other Manchester bands." They ultimately opted for The Stone Roses and the rest, they say, is history.
Kaiser Chiefs – Runston Parva
When Nick Hodgson, Andrew White and Ricky Wilson formed the band in 1996, they took their bizarre Runston Parva moniker from the name of a small East Yorkshire hamlet called Ruston Parva. With Nick Baines and Simon Rix later in their ranks, they dumped the 'Runston' and they were signed up to the Beggars Banquet Records subsidiary label Mantra Records. However, despite four single releases, Parva were left label-less when Mantra folded in 2003 and their album '22' went unreleased. Fed up with their bad luck, they renamed themselves Kaiser Chiefs after the South African football club Kaizer Chiefs.
Muse – Rocket Baby Dolls
When frontman Matt Bellamy and drummer Dominic Howard's former band Gothic Plague (surprisingly not a death metal group) split following a series of rifts, they enlisted new bassist Chris Wolstenholme and changed their name to Rocket Baby Dolls. Soon realising it was woeful, after just one gig – their triumphant battle of bands performance at Broadmeadow Sports Centre in Teignmouth in 1994 – they switched it for Muse.
Goo Goo Dolls – The Sex Maggots
Originally a covers band, Goo Goo Dolls were known as the Sex Maggots when they were gigging around Buffalo, New York in 1986. However, they were reportedly forced to find a new moniker when a local promoter refused to put their band name on his marquee. They took their name from a toy called a Goo Goo Doll that they stumbled across in an advert in True Detective magazine. Singer Johnny Rzeznik has since quipped: "It's the best we came up with, and for some reason it stuck. If I had five more minutes, I definitely would have picked a better name."
Coldplay - Starfish
When future Coldplay frontman Chris Martin met Welsh guitarist Jonny Buckland at University College London in 1996, the musical kindred spirits formed a group called Pectoralz. With bassist Guy Berryman and drummer Will Champion joining their ranks the following year, they changed their name to Starfish. The band performed their debut show at the now closed Laurel Tree pub in Camden in January 1998 as Starfish and had a number of equally terribly titled songs including the cringey 'Ode to Deoderant'. Several weeks later they changed their name to Coldplay after a good chum called Tim Crompton kindly agreed they could nick the moniker of his own group.
Elbow - Mr Soft
Formed in Bury in 1990, Guy Garvey, Mark Potter, Richard Jupp and bassist Pete Turner called themselves Mr. Soft in homage to the character in the Trebor Softmints advert in the late eighties that was soundtracked by Cockney Rebel's song of the same name, 'Mr. Soft'. Soon shortened to just Soft, the band redubbed themselves Elbow in 1997 and took inspiration from the BBC TV drama The Singing Detective where a character called Philip Marlow calls the word "elbow" as the prettiest word in the English language.
Pearl Jam – Mookie Blaylock
Keen aficionados of the legendary New York Jets basketball player Mookie Blaylock, Eddie Vedder and co. decided to name their band in his honour. After playing a series of shows as Mookie Blaylock, they renamed themselves Pearl Jam in October '90 after signing to Epic Records. The origins of the name are somewhat cloudy, related either to Eddie Vedder's great grandmother Pearl / seeing Neil Young "jam" live / a naughty euphemism, depending on who you talk to... Mookie himself is said to be a big fan of Pearl Jam's music.
Nirvana – Pen Cap Chew
Previously a member of the delightfully named Fecal Matter – aka Brown Towel – Kurt Cobain already had a history of hilariously bad band names before starting his new outfit with Krist Novoselic. After trialling a few dodgy names including Skid Row, Ted Ed Fred and, most notably, Pen Cap Chew, they had a eureka moment and settled on Nirvana. Kurt told Rolling Stone in 1992: "I wanted a name that was kind of beautiful or nice and pretty instead of a mean, raunchy punk name like the Angry Samoans." A superb choice.
Radiohead – On A Friday
Formed while students at Abingdon School, Oxfordshire in 1985, Thom Yorke, Philip Selway, Ed O'Brien, Johnny Greenwood and Colin Greenwood called themselves On A Friday in reference to the rehearsal day in their school's music room. The name stuck for six years until they signed a six-album deal with EMI Records in 1991 and the label requested they ditched it. They opted for Radiohead after the 1986 Talking Heads song 'Radio Head'.
Red Hot Chili Peppers - Tony Flow and the Miraculously Majestic Masters of Mayhem
Founded at Fairfax High School in Los Angeles in 1983, Anthony Kiedis, Hillel Slovak, Flea and Jack Irons gave themselves the flabbergasting name Tony Flow and the Miraculously Majestic Masters of Mayhem. According to Kiedis, the name was intended to reflect the "majestic and chaotic" nature of the band. After two shows as Tony Flow… in November of '83 the group opted for the comparatively normal moniker Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Creedence Clearwater Revival - The Golliwogs
Originally named The Blue Velvets, when the band recorded some tracks for Fantasy Records in 1964, label co-owner Max Reiss decided to change it to The Golliwogs after the minstrel doll of the same name. Late rhythm guitarist Tom Fogarty said: "I think, at least to Max anyway, 'Golliwogs' sounded sort of British. We always hated the name but Max owned the label and we were new and wanted very much to make records, so we went along with things." Three years later the name was thankfully dropped.
Nickelback – Village Idiots
When the young Chad Kroeger, Ryan Peake, Mike Kroeger and former drummer Brandon Kroeger formed a covers band in the early 1990s largely pilfering from Metallica, Led Zeppelin and Megadeth's back catalogue, they dubbed themselves the Village Idiots. Realising it would make them a laughingstock on the bigger stage, they later changed it to Nickelback in reference to the nickel in change Mike often gave his customers while working at Starbucks – "Here's your nickel back."
Black Sabbath – The Polka Tulk Blues Band
It's almost impossible to think of a more inappropriate band name as The Polka Tulk Blues Band to fit with Sabbath's crushing heavy metal sounds. Fortunately, they saw sense and abandoned the name in the late 60s with a scathing Iommi telling Ozzy: "Every time I hear it, all I can picture is you, with your trousers around your ankles, taking a f***ing dump. It's crap." Black Sabbath was inspired by three things - the Boris Karloff film of the same name, a dark vision bassist and lyricist Geezer Butler once had, and the work of occult novelist Dennis Wheatley.
Snow Patrol – Shrug
Four years before the formation of Snow Patrol, singer Gary Lightbody and bassist Mark McClelland along with drummer Michael Morrison formed the rather indifferent monikered band Shrug. They self-released the brilliantly titled demo 'The Yogurt vs Yogurt Debate' in 1994 and changed their name to Polarbear in 1996 after discovering there was already an American band called Shrug. Following an EP called 'Starfighter Pilot' in 1997 and the exit of Morrison, the band morphed into Snow Patrol the following year.
KISS – Wicked Lester
Binning their Rainbow moniker when they discovered there was already another band with the same name, in 1971 the group renamed themselves Wicked Lester. During their brief existence the folk/pop/rock group played in public just twice before Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley decided to delve into rock and roll and recruit new members. With Ace Frehley on board by Christmas '72 they changed their name to KISS and played their first live show a month later.
Van Halen – Rat Salad
Van Halen originally called themselves Genesis until they found out a certain British progressive rock band shared then name. The band then redubbed themselves Mammoth… only to discover that was being used too! Still predominately a covers band, the Van Halen brothers toyed with Rat Salad (after the Black Sabbath song) but Dave Lee Roth countered with their surname. Originally worried about it sounding self-absorbed, the whole band eventually agreed to adopt it.
Creed – Naked Toddler
The astonishingly atrocious and inappropriate band name was suggested by guitarist Mark Tremonti in the mid-nineties after he read a story in the press about an abducted child. Unable to settle on a suitable band name at the time, they often performed under a name taken from the headlines in that day's newspaper. Naively adopting Naked Toddler for one show at a club called Yanni's, Scott Stapp revealed in his 2012 autobiography that it was rightfully met with indignation. "The name didn't go over well. Girls hated it and said it made them think of paedophilia. They had a point." We couldn't have put it better ourselves…
U2 - Feedback/The Hype
When drummer Larry Mullen posted a notice looking for band members at Mount Temple Comprehensive School, the resulting group were called The Larry Mullen Band "for about ten minutes" before Bono swept aside the idea. They then opted for Feedback, after the screeching sound that came out of their amps, only to switch it for the decidedly pop band-esque name The Hype in 1977. Eventually they settled on U2 for its "ambiguity and open-ended interpretations."
Blur – Seymour
Formed from the ashes of Damon Albarn, Graham Coxon and Alex James' previous group Circus, the band called themselves Seymour in December 1988 after J. D. Salinger's 1963 novella 'Seymour: An Introduction'. When they were signed to Food Records in 1990, the imprint wisely rejected the terrible name and the band decided on Blur after drawing up a list of alternatives.
Simon and Garfunkel – Tom & Jerry
When they were just 15 years old in 1956, the fresh-faced Paul Simon and Arthur Garfunkel assumed the name Tom & Jerry seemingly in reference to the hit Hanna and Barbera cartoon of the same name. Simon even dubbed himself Tom Graph and Garfunkel took on the name Jerry Landis. The pair scored a minor hit called 'Hello Schoolgirl' before going their separate ways. In 1964 they reconvened as a duo and decided to use their real names to stay "true" to themselves.
Linkin Park – Xero
Formed by high school chums Mike Shinoda, Rob Bourdon and Brad Delson in 1996, with Joe Hahn and singer Mark Wakefield recruited later that year, Linkin Park were somewhat regrettably originally known as Xero - a name that sounds more like a brand of photocopier than a band. After recording a self-titled EP, Wakefield quit the group when tensions grew when they failed to secure a record deal. Xero recruited Arizona vocalist Chester Bennington in 1999 and they changed their name to Hybrid Theory before eventually settling on Linkin Park in homage to Santa Monica's Lincoln Park.
Pink Floyd – Screaming Abdabs
Pink Floyd were formed from the ashes of a band that had a series of bizarre transitory names. First called Sigma 6 (there were six members including Roger Waters, Richard Wright and Nick Mason), in 1964 they adopted a series of short-lived but gloriously ridiculous names including Leonard's Lodgers, the Meggadeaths and the Screaming Abdabs. A year later Syd Barratt coined Pink Floyd after finding inspiration from the Piedmont blues musicians Pink Anderson and Floyd Council.
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