Musical mystery: What’s the origin of the self-titled album?

We all have albums in our library where it seemed as if the artist couldn’t be arsed to come up with a title. The self-titled album (the technical word for such a record is is “eponymous”) has been with us for decades. For example:

  • The Beatles’ “white album” (1968)
  • The first and fourth Led Zeppelin albums
  • The first Fleetwood Mac album with Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham (1975)
  • Boston’s debut album (1976)
  • The Smiths’ first record (1984)
  • The Stone Roses debut (1989)
  • Metallica’s “black” album (1991)
  • All of Weezer’s colour-coded albums
  • Etc.

Never really given the subject much thought, though, until this email appeared from Matt:

“This is a super random question, but one I’ve always kind of pondered: What is the history of the self-titled album? Why do so many bands do it? It’s so widespread that I would imagine there is an explanation of some sort.”

I, er…I have no idea. Can anyone offer some information or explanation?

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

One thought on “Musical mystery: What’s the origin of the self-titled album?

  • August 17, 2020 at 10:36 am

    First albums are an introduction of sorts. Kind of makes sense that the title is a bit of a business card. I’d be curious to know what the very first self-titled was!


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