Yesterday I told you lot it is International Brain Awareness Week. I neglected to mention that it is also International Brian Awareness Week. This is the time of year when we make sure we are aware that the full name of Cornelius Cardew, the firebrand Marxist-Leninist composer and author of Stockhausen Serves Imperialism, who once threw Yoko Ono out of his house, was Brian Cornelius Cardew. Why did he drop the Brian? It seems a far more “proletarian” name than Cornelius, so one would have thought he would embrace it. As Wilcox – a non-Brian – noted, “it’th a mythtery”.
I think the reason for Cardew’s name change is a morbid suspicion among the musical fraternity that it might prevent any future success – a classic case being that of rap personage and “beverage investor” 50 Cent, whose horror of the name was made plain in the title of his debut LP, “Get Rich Or Die as Brian”. Then of course there is the famous case of Brian Peter George St John le Baptiste de la Salle Eno, who mostly preferred to be known by the one-word title of a popular brand of antacid medication than suffer the Curse of the Brians.