The punk rock band thought it was a way to honor its Colorado roots. Apparently, John Elway has a different opinion on the name change.
"Elway" has been asked through a letter to change the group's name after the Hall of Fame quarterback's representatives caught wind of its act.
Lead singer Tim Browne finds it flattering that Elway, the chief football executive of the Denver Broncos, has taken notice of a band that routinely plays "in front of about 30 people in a basement." But Brown says the four-man group from Fort Collins, Colo., plans to keep the name.
Browne's band switched from "10-4 Eleanor" to "Elway" last November, and the change has generated plenty of talk of late.
"None of us really care about football that much," Browne said Saturday in a phone interview with The Associated Press a night after performing at a small venue in Philadelphia. "It's not a direct reference to John Elway. We make no mention of him in records or in our art work. He's local color, part of the local vernacular that people understand."
Browne doesn't quite understand the fuss, but certainly appreciates the attention, even suggesting he'll give Elway a raise for all the publicity the flap has generated.
A phone message was left seeking comment from Elway's representatives.
Browne said the letter strongly urged the band to change its name, but it didn't include a cease and desist order.
"They're banking on us being idiots and that we wouldn't talk to a lawyer," Browne said. "They wanted us to email them back when we change the band's name. I haven't even responded to them. It's blown my mind that it's gotten this big."
The group is scheduled to play in Indianapolis, St. Louis and Kansas City, Mo., before returning in mid-June to Fort Collins, about an hour's drive north of Denver.
"We're just guys living in a van, driving across the country, playing shows with next to nobody (in the audience)," Browne said. "And then this multimillion dollar successful business man, Hall of Fame football player gets so mortified that a punk band would use his last name? It's an incredible shock it happened.
"We're not out to get John Elway. This situation is hilarious and he needs to loosen up. Life's too short to worry about a punk rock band using your name."
Browne wasn't a big sports fan growing up. But since he lived in the area and Elway was the face of the Broncos, the face of the state for that matter, he did pay attention to the beloved quarterback.
Elway led the Broncos to back-to-back Super Bowl championships before retiring in 1999. He returned to the team in January to begin restoring the franchise's tarnished image and bring back its winning ways.
He also is a successful entrepreneur, operating a popular steakhouse in town bearing his name.
"It's kind of hard not to know much about him living in Colorado," Browne said. "But I really have no interest in meeting him."
In addition to Browne, the group also includes bass player Joe Henderer, drummer Garrett Carr and guitarist Brian Van Proyen.
And while Elway the quarterback once played in sold-out stadiums, "Elway" the band barely fills a venue.
"We're slouches," Browne said, laughing. "But we're not the worst slouches in the world. We're doing what we can. We're about having a good time, not trying to steal money out of anyone's pocket.
"We're so small that it confounds me thoroughly why anyone would try to legally strong-arm us."
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press