At first, they were The Reckless. That was what the Taylor Momsen-led rockers called themselves when they played their first gig at The Annex in Brooklyn, New York on May 5, 2009.
Reckless represented the band’s style and sound, but unfortunately, as the lineup was undergoing several changes, Momsen was also forced to find a new band name to avoid trademark issues.
Adding a “Pretty”
At first, Momsen, who at the time gained fame starring as Jenny Humphrey on Gossip Girl, admitted that she wasn’t too happy with adding the word “Pretty” to the band name.
“I’m not quite a fan of [the name],” said Momsen in 2010. “You’d be surprised how difficult it is to find a name that’s actually trademarkable. We wanted it to be just The Reckless but we had some problems, so we added a ‘pretty.'”
More than a decade since the band released their 2010 debut, Light Me Up, The Pretty Reckless is the only female-fronted band—a term Momsen isn’t so keen on—to have garnered seven No. 1 singles, including the 2021 single, “Only Love Can Save Me Now,” off the band’s fourth album, Death by Rock and Roll—featuring Kim Thayil and Matt Cameron of Soundgarden—which reached No. 1 on the Mainstream Rock Airplay chart.
Released in 2021, Death by Rock and Roll also birthed two more No. 1 singles, including the title track and “And So It Went.”
The band The Pretty Reckless hit their first No. 1 in 2014 with the Going to Hell track “Heaven Knows” and following singles “Follow Me Down” and “Messed Up World” and later with “Take Me Down,” off their third album Who You Selling For.
The Real Thing
Through their success, Momsen said it was an uphill battle for some years, and recently admitted that it took some time to get taken seriously as a band.
“I think that we’ve been around now for a while, and I think that we’ve certainly felt a shift in acceptance from other bands and from the industry and things like that,” shared Momsen in a 2022 interview. “I think in the beginning it was kind of an uphill battle, for me, at least. People had a lot of preconceived notions about me, I guess.”
Momsen added, ”I think that it’s taken time to kind of prove that this is a real thing and a real band, and not some sort of fling or whatever. So I think that that’s been really amazing.”
Photos: Courtesy of Atom Splitter PR