Behind the band name: Matchbox Twenty

Sometimes a group name literally “walks” through the door. Formed in 1995 in Orlando, Florida, formerly Matchbox Twenty (formerly Matchbox 20), vocalist Rob Thomas, bassist Brian Yale and drummer Paul Doucette were part of a band called Tabitha’s Secret.

Thinking of a name for her clothing company and the new band, Douchette found a word and number in the most unlikely place: a customer’s patched shirt.

Matchbox + 20

Working as a waiter in Florida, drummer Paul Douchette spotted a customer’s shirt filled with patches. One of the patches read “Matchbox” and another had the number “20”, so he pieced the two together.

“A guy walked into the place where I was working and I would like to know who that guy was because I have no idea,” said Douchette. “He had a big number 20 on a softball jersey, a bunch of patches all over it, and the only word I saw on the patches was the word ‘matchbox’ and I was like ‘Matchbox 20’.”

Showerette added, “At the time, I wanted to start a clothing business. I was like ‘Matchbox 20 clothing company’ but then I said the band name.

“We hated it,” frontman Rob Thomas said of the proposed band name.

Douchette said the band thought it was “the dumbest name in the world”. He added: “Then a month later Rob is like ‘Matchbox 20’.”

Box of matches twenty

Matchbox 20 adopted the spelling of the number in their band name, changing to Matchbox Twenty, before the release of their second album crazy season In 2000.

A box of matches… made in heaven

Signed to Atlantic, the group released their first album, yourself or someone like you, in 1996 with the hits “3 AM”, “Push”, “Real World” and “Back 2 Good”. The band released their fourth album North in 2012 and have sold over 25 million records worldwide. Thomas continued as a prominent songwriter, collaborating with Santana on the 1999 hit “Smooth” and again in 2021 with “Move” and writing with and for Willie Nelson, Mick Jagger, Marc Anthony, and Moreover.

Photo: Atlantic Records