The Cease and Desist Order Behind the Band Name Dinosaur Jr.

Before they were called Dinosaur Jr. and landed on their core members of guitarist and singer J. Mascis, bassist Lou Barlow and drummer Murph (Patrick Murphy), the alt-rock trio went through a few phases—and band names.

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At first, the “Jr.” was never meant to be part of their name, but legalities forced the band to later add on the suffix after they had already released two albums as Dinosaur.

From Deep Wound to Mogo

While Mascis and Barlow were in high school in Amherst, Massachusetts, they started playing in a hardcore band called Deep Wound. Venturing away from the harder rock, the two started exploring more Neil Young and psychedelic rock coming out of the Paisley Underground scene emerging in Los Angeles from the early to mid-’80s.

The two later asked Murph to join, along with singer Charlie Nakajima, and renamed themselves Mogo for a short time before disbanding.

After Nakajima used one of the band’s shows in 1984 for his own political agenda—an anti-police demonstration—Mascis, Barlow, and Murph broke out on their own.


Also the chief songwriter, Mascis took over vocals, and the trio now called themselves Dinosaur and started recording their 1985 self-titled debut at a studio in the woods in Northampton, Massachusetts.

Though the album didn’t make much movement, the band was invited on a tour with Sonic Youth and worked on their second album, You’re Living All Over Me, shortly afterward.

At the time, some creative tensions began to arise within the band with Mascis wanting most of the control, and Barlow forming his side band, Sebadoh.

The “Jr.”

Following the release of You’re Living All Over Me, the trio faced legal action by the supergroup Dinosaurs, featuring ex-members of some well-known bands, including The Grateful Dead‘s Robert Hunter, Spencer Dryden of Jefferson Airplane, Peter Albin of Big Brother and the Holding Company, Quicksilver Messenger Service’s John Cipollina, and Barry Melton, formerly of Country Joe and the Fish, among others.

Dinosaurs, which had technically formed in California in 1982, sued Dinosaur for using their name.

After the cease and desist, Dinosaur was forced to add the “Jr.” onto their name to differentiate them from Dinosaurs, which would disband a few years later in 1989.

Dinosaur Jr.

Continuing to play their heavy-distortion slacker rock, Dinosaur Jr. released three more albums through Where You Been in 1993, which birthed one of their biggest hits, “Start Choppin’,” before Murph parted ways with the band to join The Lemonheads. Barlow had also previously left the band after their third album, Bug, in 1988, and focused on Sebadoh and other projects.

Following the release of the band’s seventh album, Hand It Over in 1997, with Mascis as the sole member of the original lineup, Dinosaur Jr. went on a nearly decade-long hiatus.

By 2005, Mascis, Barlow, and Murph reunited and toured a year later. The band released their eighth album, Beyond, in 2007 and have remained together since.

In 2021, Dinosaur Jr. released their 12th album, Sweep It Into Space.

Read our 2021 interview with founding Dinosaur Jr. member Lou Barlow, HERE.

Photo by Jim Bennett / WireImage

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