The Debut of Sade (shah-day)

Nigerian-born British singer Sade Adu (born Helen Folasade Adu) formed her eponymous smooth jazz band Sade in the early 1980s.

The band went on to see massive success in the mid-1980s with its first two albums: Diamond Life (1984) and Promise (1985). These albums included the popular singles “Smooth Operator” [vid], “Your Love Is King,” “The Sweetest Taboo,” and “Never as Good as the First Time” — each of which reached the U.S. Hot 100 in either 1985 or 1986.

Notably, on the debut album, the band’s record label (Epic) decided to include a suggested pronunciation of the band’s name: shar-day. This pronunciation could be found on all formats of the album, from the vinyl record to the cassette tape to the CD:

“Diamond Life” CD

The problem? Shar-day is the British-English pronunciation of Sade. Brits often drop their R’s — they speak a non-rhotic version of English — so shar-day to a Brit is essentially shah-day to an American.

But the label forgot to account for this dialectical difference when they released the album overseas, and Americans were forced to conclude that Sade, despite not including the letter R, somehow featured an audible R-sound.

Even the Chicago Tribune emphasized this mispronunciation in a December 1985 article entitled, “The Name is Shar-Day“:

Not ”Sahd,” not ”Sayd,” not ”Say-dy.”

”Shar-day.”

The band’s success had a big impact on American baby names. The name Sade was the top debut name of 1985 (in fact, it was one of the top debut names of all time) and it saw peak popularity in 1986. Even more interesting, though, is the sheer number of variant spellings featuring that letter R.

Here are Sade and all the Sade-variants I could find in the mid-1980s U.S. baby name data, sorted by 1986 levels of usage:

Name1984198519861987
Sade393*
[rank: 513th]
1,245
[rank: 213th]
626
[rank: 373rd]
Shardae129*200
[rank: 836th]
99
Sharde124*190
[rank: 876th]
87
Sharday100*170
[rank: 938th]
80
Sharda7011165
Charde67*10544
Chardae50*8151
Shade336141
Shadae29*5841
Shada5264738
Shaday13*4022
Shardai33*3319
Charday24*3219
Charda12*2013
Chade6**185
Shardey5*17
Chadae5*12
Chardai10*1011
Shadai8*106
Folasade5*1011
Shardee11*9
Shadea7*10
Shardea11*610
Shardaye6*5
Chardee5*5
Shawday5*
Chardey5*
Chada5*
Sadea5*

*Debut. (The last 3 names were one-hit wonders.)
**Gender-specific debut only.

Finally, as a reward for making it to the end of the post, here’s a clip of young Sade Adu talking about her name. Be sure to listen to the end, where she laughs and says, “American people tend to go sharrr-day.”

What do think of the name Sade?

Sources: Sade – Wikipedia, Sade Chart History | Billboard

The Emergence of Maxx

Norman and Maxx

The baby name Maxx — which briefly reached the boys’ top 1,000 about a decade ago — first appeared in the SSA data back in 1980. In fact, it was a rare dual-gender debut:

  • 1982: unlisted
  • 1981: 7 baby boys named Maxx
  • 1980: 5 baby girls and 8 baby boys named Maxx
  • 1979: unlisted
  • 1978: unlisted

What boosted it into the data that year?

A short-lived sitcom called Me and Maxx, which lasted just 10 episodes (March to July, 1980). One of the main characters was an 11-year-old girl named Maxx (played by Melissa Michaelsen). The other main character was Maxx’s father, Norman, “who trie[d] to balance the responsibility of fatherhood with his romantic adventures.”

Maxx’s character was inspired by and named after Maxx Komack, the real-life daughter of the show’s creator, James Komack.

What do you think of the double-X name Maxx — do you like it more or less than the single-X version, Max?

Source: Me and Maxx – Wikipedia, Me and Max – TV Guide

The Double-Play Baseball Baby Name Ryne

ryne, duren, baseball, 1950sIn the late ’50s, the name Ryne debuted impressively on the charts:

  • 1962: 7 baby boys named Ryne
  • 1961: 13 baby boys named Ryne
  • 1960: 10 baby boys named Ryne
  • 1959: 31 baby boys named Ryne
  • 1958: 21 baby boys named Ryne [debut]
  • 1957: unlisted

Where did it come from?

It was inspired by professional baseball pitcher Rinold “Ryne” Duren, known for “[staring] down batters through thick-lensed eyeglasses and then [delivering] fastballs that might go just about anywhere.”

In fact, Duren was the inspiration for the character Ricky “Wild Thing” Vaughn (played by Charlie Sheen, clearly #winning at the time) in the 1989 movie Major League.

Duren was in the Major Leagues from 1954 to 1965, but in 1958 was a member of the World Series-winning New York Yankees. It was also the first year he was selected for the All-Star Game.

He inherited the name Rinold from his father, whose family came from Germany. Rinold, like Renault, is related to the more familiar name Reynold.

…But that’s not the end of the story!

Because one of the 1959 babies named Ryne was Ryne Dee “Ryno” Sandberg, who also became a professional baseball player (second baseman). He started with Chicago Cubs in 1981 and went on to become a Hall of Famer.

He boosted the name Ryne not just back into the data, but into the top 1000 for the first time:

  • 1986: 178 baby boys named Ryne [rank: 675th]
  • 1985: 286 baby boys named Ryne [rank: 516th]
  • 1984: 199 baby boys named Ryne [rank: 605th]
  • 1983: 38 baby boys named Ryne
  • 1982: 31 baby boys named Ryne
  • 1981: unlisted

Ryne Sandberg had a son in the mid-1980s, but didn’t give him a baseball-inspired name. Instead, Justin Ross got a theater-inspired name. Ryne had seen “A Chorus Line” in New York around that time and been impressed with the name of performer Justin Ross.

Do you like the name Ryne? Would you use it for a baby boy?

Sources:

Sheena: Jungle Queen & Baby Name

sheena, queen of the jungle, comic, 1940s, baby nameIf you meet someone in the U.S. named Sheena, chances are she was born in the 1980s. That’s when the usage of baby name Sheena spiked impressively thanks to Scottish singer Sheena Easton, whose first big hit was “9 to 5 (Morning Train)” and whose name was no doubt based on Sìne, the Scottish form of Jeanne.

But the name Sheena has been on the onomastic map (here in the U.S.) a lot longer than that. And I think the initial influence was a comic book character.

“Queen of the Jungle” Sheena, who always wore a skimpy, leopard-print outfit, started appearing in the adventure anthology comic book Jumbo Comics in 1938. She’d been created by artist Will Eisner as a female counterpart to Tarzan, and her name was inspired by H. Rider Haggard’s novel She: A History of Adventure.

By the second half of 1940, Sheena was being featured on the cover of Jumbo Comics regularly. And in the spring of 1942, Sheena became the first female character to star in her own comic book in the spin-off series Sheena, Queen of the Jungle. (The first issue of Wonder Woman didn’t appear until later in 1942.)

Around the same time, the baby name Sheena debuted in the SSA’s baby name data:

  • 1945: 14 baby girls named Sheena
  • 1944: 11 baby girls named Sheena
  • 1943: 9 baby girls named Sheena [debut]
  • 1942: unlisted
  • 1941: unlisted

The next decade, Sheena got her own TV series. Sheena, Queen of the Jungle first aired from 1955 to 1956 and the title character was played by Nellie Elizabeth “Irish” McCalla. The show gave the name a boost in the mid-1950s:

  • 1958: 121 baby girls named Sheena
  • 1957: 163 baby girls named Sheena
  • 1956: 136 baby girls named Sheena
  • 1955: 34 baby girls named Sheena
  • 1954: 20 baby girls named Sheena

The name got another (lesser) boost in the late ’70s with the release of the Ramones song “Sheena is a Punk Rocker” (1977), but it was nothing like the rise that was to come a few years later thanks to Sheena Easton.

What are your thoughts on the name Sheena?

Sources: Sìne – Behind the Name, Eisner and Iger – WillEisner.com, First female character to star in her own comic book | Guinness World Records
Image from the Digital Comic Museum.

The Introduction of Taimak

The baby name Taimak debuted in the U.S. baby name data in 1986.

The curious name Taimak debuted in the U.S. baby name data in 1986. It appeared twice more, both times in the 1980s, before dropping out the data entirely.

  • 1990: unlisted
  • 1989: 5 baby boys named Taimak
  • 1988: unlisted
  • 1987: 6 baby boys named Taimak
  • 1986: 8 baby boys named Taimak [debut]
  • 1985: unlisted

Where did it come from?

Taimak Guarriello, the martial artist who played lead character Leroy Green in the movie The Last Dragon (1985). Leroy, a martial artist living in Harlem, was known to the other characters as “Bruce Leroy” because of his obsession with Bruce Lee.

It was Taimak’s first professional acting role, and, to date, his only lead role in a feature film. He was credited simply as “Taimak” in the opening credits.

(One of his co-stars in the movie was Prince protégé Vanity, and one of the songs from the soundtrack was the hit “Rhythm of the Night” by DeBarge.)

What does Taimak’s name mean? Here’s what he told Jet magazine in 2013:

I’m Black and Italian, but the name Taimak comes from the Aztec culture. “Teimoc” means striking eagle.

(I’m guessing it was based on the name Cuauhtémoc, which means “eagle that descends [in order to strike its prey]” in Nahuatl. Cuauhtémoc was the name of a 16th-century Aztec ruler.)

What are your thoughts on the name Taimak?

Sources: Whatever Happened to The Last Dragon?, What Ever Happened To: Taimak