Behind the Band Name: Matchbox Twenty

Sometimes a band name literally “walks” through the door. Formed in 1995 in Orlando, Florida, before they were Matchbox Twenty (formerly Matchbox 20), singer Rob Thomas, bassist Brian Yale, and drummer Paul Doucette were in a band called Tabitha’s Secret.

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In thinking of a name for his clothing company and the new band, Douchette found a word and number in the most unlikely place: a customer’s patched shirt.

Matchbox + 20

Working as a waiter in Florida, drummer Paul Douchette spotted a customer’s shirt filled with patches. One of the patches read “Matchbox” and another had the number “20,” so he pieced both together.

“A guy walked into the place I was working and I wish I knew who this guy was because I have no clue,” said Douchette. “He had a big number 20 on a softball shirt, a bunch of patches all over it, and the only word that I saw from the patches was the word ‘matchbox,’ and I was like ‘Matchbox 20.'”

Douchette added, “At the time I wanted to start a clothing company. I was like ‘Matchbox 20 clothing company’ but then I said the name of the band.”

“We hated it,” said frontman Rob Thomas of the proposed band name. 

Douchette said the band thought it was “the dumbest name in the world.” He added, “Then like a month later Rob’s like, ‘Matchbox 20.'” 

Matchbox Twenty

Matchbox 20 adopted the spelling of the number in their band name, switching to Matchbox Twenty, prior to the release of their second album Mad Season in 2000.

A Match… Box Made in Heaven

Signed to Atlantic, the band released their debut album, Yourself or Someone Like You, in 1996 with hits “3 A.M.,” “Push,” “Real World,” and “Back 2 Good.” The band released their fourth album North in 2012 and has sold more than 25 million records worldwide. Thomas has continued on as a prominent songwriter, collaborating with Santana for the 1999 hit “Smooth” and again in 2021 with “Move” and has written with and for Willie Nelson, Mick Jagger, Marc Anthony, and more.

Photo: Atlantic Records

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