Behind the History and Meaning of the Band Name: Spin Doctors

While today Chris Barron is as known for his “Caturday” posts as he is for songs like “Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong” and “Two Princes” in the ’90s, Barron and his band known as Spin Doctors were everywhere, performing on David Letterman’s Late Night show and appearing on MTV consistently. Even Barron’s knit cap and giant sweaters were famous.

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But where did the band, which hails from the New York-New Jersey area, get its name? What are Spin Doctors? Let’s dive in.

“Spin Doctors”

Before we get into the band name, let’s look briefly at the term “Spin Doctors.”

Today, the phrase denotes a person (often a political person) whose role is to control a story or bit of news. The spin doctor takes an event and puts a “spin” on the story to make it sound better or different from what public perception might be. The point is to influence public opinion to help get their candidate or side looked at more favorably.

For example, if polling numbers on election day lead to candidate A, then the spin doctor for that candidate may indicate that they’ve won. Or the spin doctor for candidate B might say “it’s early,” and paint the future as more bright than the present. It’s all about perception and attempting to change it, regardless of what the truth might actually be.

The Band’s Early Beginnings

The band is known for its origins in the Big Apple, New York City, but Barron is actually from Princeton, New Jersey, where he met his friend and future musical collaborator John Popper, the now-legendary harmonica player for the ’90s group Blues Traveler.

The Spin Doctors, after they got together, released the debut hit record, Pocket Full of Kryptonite, in 1991. And that album included hits like “Jimmy Olsen’s Blues,” “What Time Is It?” and the aforementioned “Two Princes” and “Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong.”

The Original Band Name and Spin Doctors

In its early years, dating back to the late-1980s, Spin Doctors first called themselves Trucking Company. At the time, the group included Canadian guitarist Eric Schenkman, Popper, and Barron. But Popper left early on (to him the band was a side project) to more fully focus on Blues Traveler.

When that happened, the group changed its name to Spin Doctors—plucking the name from the political newspaper headlines of the Bush Sr. era—and brought in Aaron Comess on drums and Mark White on bass. The classic lineup was now intact and it was only 1989.

In 1990 the group signed with Epic Records and its debut EP, Up for Grabs…Live, dropped in January of 1991. It makes sense that the band released a live album as Spin Doctors, like Blues Traveler and future Blues Traveler opening band Dave Matthews Band, were known for their extended live songs that often included jams.

Pocket Full of Kryptonite was released in August of 1991. And while sales weren’t immediately going through the roof, the group soon hooked listeners with its singles like “Two Princes” and “Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong.”

“[Their] popularity is based on universal rock & roll virtues”, said Rolling Stone magazine for a cover story on the band for its January 7, 1993 issue. “The Doctors aren’t trying to blaze new trails. They know we’ve been down this way with the Stones, Curtis Mayfield, and a few of their other touchstones. But the proof—plenty of it—is in the party.”

Sounds like the perfect narrative to place on their trajectory. The perfect spin, you might even say!


With chart-topping hits, appearances on late-night shows, and even an appearance on Sesame Street to their resume, the band, fronted by Barron, continues to tour today. For more on the group, including its upcoming tour dates, visit HERE.

Photo by Gie Knaeps/Getty Images

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