Band Name Origins
Criteria: - Here is an alphabetical list of Band Name Origins,
or "How they got that name."
Edited By: Lew
Last Updated: 01-11-09
The average man ejaculates around 10cc of semen.
Police code for indecent exposure.
Inspired by an old horror movie called '2000 Maniacs'.
An acronym for the first names of the band members: Agnetha Fältskog, Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Anderson and Anni-Frid (Frida) Lyngstad.
A band member saw AC/DC on a sewing machine and figured it has something to do with power. He was right, it means 'Alternating Current / Direct Current'. The band didn't realise it was also slang for bi-sexual, which caused a few awkward moments in their early days. A silly rumour claims the acronym 'Anti-Christ Devil's Children'.
It was evidently a word Joey Kramer wrote all over his notebooks in high school. Some think they were inspired by the 1925 book 'Arrowsmith' by Sinclair Lewis.
The band's name refers to a story that Win Butler had heard about a fire in an arcade.
ART OF NOISE
Named after the 1913 manifesto called 'The Art of Noises' by Italian Futurist Luigi Russolo. Russolo made noise machines, wrote music for them, and also recorded sounds from the environment for musical pleasure.
A character in" The Neverending Story".
The beehive hairstyle popular in the 1950's was called a B-52. Also a type of U.S. Air Force bomber.
A combination of band members' last names and the trucker's magazine 'Overdrive'. They were originally called Brave Belt, then Bachman-Turner, then the final name.
A 1972 movie starring Jeff Bridges.
The working title of the Beatles song "A Little Help From My Friends".
Named after the style of graphic design and famous school of architecture
BAY CITY ROLLERS
They blindly stuck a pin on a map. It landed on Bay City, Michigan.
'Beastie' is an acronym for 'Boys Entering Anarchistic States Toward Internal Excellence'.
A few stories floating around about this one. Stuart Sutcliffe came up with the Beetles in 1960, which was evidently a play on Buddy Holly's Crickets. They went by the Quarrymen and the Silver Beetles a while later, then shortened and mutated that to the Beatles. Lennon and Sutcliffe may have also been influenced by the film 'The Wild One', which featured a motorcycle gang called the Beetles. John Lennon is generally credited with combining Beetles and Beat to come up with the Beatles spelling. Lennon was also fond of saying he had a vision as a child of a flaming pie in the sky that said 'You are Beatles with an 'A'....
Their name was not derived from 'Brothers Gibb' as most people assume. Two friends that helped them out early on were Bill Goode and a disc jockey named Bill Gates.... ('B. G.'s)
The name of a play by Harold Pinter.
He wasn't in a physical position to call himself "Small T".
Originally named Uncle Crowe's Garden after a children's fairy tale.
The flag flown by pirates and the brand name of a bug killer. When Adam Ant first played in California, Black Flag gave out buttons that read: 'Black Flag kills Ants'
BLACK KEYS, THE
The group's name came from a schizophrenic artist named Alfred McMoore that the pair knew; he would leave incoherent messages on their answering machines referring to their fathers as "black keys" such as "D flat" when he was upset with them.
Named after a 1963 horror movie starring Boris Karloff. They released an album as Earth before changing their name to Black Sabbath.
BLUE OYSTER CULT
A combination of a recipe the band's manager read in a book and the band's fascination with the occult. The name is also an anagram of 'Cully's Stout Beer'.
The singer with U2, Paul Hewson was inspired by a hearing aid store in Dublin, Ireland called 'Bono Vox'.
BOOKER T. & THE M.G.'S
Booker T. led the band and M.G. stands for Memphis Group.
From a gang in Woody Guthrie's 'Bound for Glory' novel.
He took his last name from the Bowie knife (which he adored as a young lad). He didn't go by his given name 'David Jones' because he didn't want to be confused with Davy Jones of the Monkees.
From the term "bus cock". Men sometimes get an erection because of the
vibrations in a heavy diesel engine in a bus or truck.
Inspired by a strange Uncle of Don Van Vliet's who would expose himself, squeeze his penis until the head turned purple, then comment about it looking "like a big ole' beef heart"
His real name is Ray Charles Robinson, but he wanted no confusion with boxer Sugar Ray Robinson. Ray Charles didn't go blind until he was 7-years-old, and would ride his bicycle around his home town after going blind!
They asked a Ouiji board what they should call their band.
Their first album was released as Chicago Transit Authority, then the city of Chicago sued them. Chicago Transit Authority is the name of Chicago's public transportation department.
CHILDREN OF BODOM
Name refers to the infamous Lake Bodom murders in Finland.
Based on a band member's dream. He didn't know which door to use in a public toilet because the signs said 'Chumba' and 'Wamba' instead of 'Men' and 'Women'
Taken from a newspaper headline describing 'A Clash With Police'
They were named after an old Simple Minds song first called "Cocteau Twins", then renamed to "No Cure". All this was inspired by a set of twins that spoke a language they created that sounded like gibberish to everyone else.
They were inspired by talking to a spirit named Alice Cooper using their Ouija Board.
He combined Elvis Presley and Lou Costello.
The name started as Cranberries Saw Us (a play on 'Cranberry Sauce'). When Dolores O'Riordan joined, she recommended shortening the name.
CREEDANCE CLEARWATER REVIVAL
Name inspired by a logo on 'Olympia' beer cans. Their first label called them the Golliwogs (without the band's permission).
The New Zealand/Australian trio chose this name from their cramped living conditions at 1902 N. Sycamore Street in Los Angeles while working on their debut album.
They were originally called Easy Cure.
Ritchie Blackmore's grandmother liked the Bing Crosby song "Deep Purple"
Inspired by a drawing Joe Elliot made of a leopard with no ears, a 'Deaf Leopard'.
It roughly translates to 'Fashion News', which was the name of a fashion magazine.
Short for 'de-evolution', which the band think the human race is experiencing.
Named after the fashion item.
It describes the financial situation they were in when forming the band.
Doobie is slang for marijuana joint. Their first name was Pud.
From a William Blake quote 'If the doors of perception were to be cleansed evry thing would appear to man as it is, infinite'. The Doors were originally called the Psychedelic Rangers.
A villan in the 1967 Jane Fonda movie 'Barbarella'.
A Spanish Civil War brigade led by libertarian anarchist Buenaventura Durruti.
His real name Robert Zimmerman was too long and he was a big fan of Dylan Thomas.
Inspired by the Byrds, who were a big influence on the Eagles. Their first name was Teen King and the Emergencies.
ECHO AND THE BUNNYMEN
Echo was the name of the drum machine used in their early demos.
His real name is Reginald Dwight. He took his stage name from two other British musicians, Elton Dean and John Baldry.
a system of music instruction from the 1890s that emphasises physical response.
EVERYTHING BUT THE GIRL
The slogan "Everything but the girl" was used to inform customers of Turners furniture shop (in Hull, UK), that all was for sale, except the figure of a little girl (about 20" high) which was used for display.
FAITH NO MORE
The band was originally called Sharp Young Men, but changed to Faith No Man when their front man was Mike 'The Man' Morris. After he left, 'The Man' was no more, so they switched to Faith No More.
Inspired by a novel by Albert Camus.
FALL OUT BOY
A reference to the sidekick of the Radioactive Man from the TV show The Simpsons, "Fallout Boy"
Chosen to be evocative of some weird English activity like fox hunting.
Slight modification of Mick Fleetwood's name with the 'Mac' coming from John McVie.
British guitarist Mick Jones started the band in New York. Since he was a foreigner that became the name.
When Norman Mailer first published 'The Naked And The Dead' in the U.S. he had to replace 'fuck' with 'fug'
GANG OF FOUR
Group of old-style Chinese rulers who all ended up dead or in prison
The first book in the Bible. The name was part of their first album title From Genesis to Revelation which was suggested by their original manager Jonathan King.
GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR
Named for a 1976 Japanese black-and-white 16 mm documentary film, which follows the exploits of a Japanese biker gang, the Black Emperors.
They were originally the Tornadoes, but there was a British band with that name. A movie called 'Golden Earrings' was the inspiration.
Refers to a series of Old English folk tales with the same basic theme. A traveler enters a village and finds the villagers desecrating, or refusing to bury the body of a dead man because he died owing creditors money. The traveler pays the dead man's debts and sees to a decent burial. Later in his travels the man is saved by a mysterious event, which is credited to the dead man's grateful spirit. Hence, the Grateful Dead. The band was originally the Warlocks, and picked Grateful Dead out of a dictionary after realising there was another band called the Warlocks.
If you smoked pot and goofed off all day, you just had a 'Green Day'.
An acronym for 'Girls Together Outrageously'. Frank Zappa produced one album by this motley bunch of hippie band groupies.
GUNS AND ROSES
From Axl Rose and Tracii Guns' names.
A fictitious band mentioned in the movie 'A Clockwork Orange'
HOOTIE AND THE BLOWFISH
There was a kid in Darius Rucker's high school who looked like an owl. They called him Hootie. There was another kid with puffed up cheeks that they called Blowfish. Hootie is also the nickname of the legendary Kansas City jazz pianist Jay McShann.
An old boardgame, it's NORWEIGIAN or DANISH (not Swedish, as incorrectly reported) for 'Do you Remember?'.
Named after a medieval torture device.
Inspired by the blues player Blind Lemon Jefferson and the name of a friend's dog.
Jethro Tull was a British inventor/farmer in the 1800's who invented the precurser to the modern plow. The band used to change their name to get gigs, and Jethro Tull proved to be a lucky one.
From a sado-masochistic novel 'The House of Dolls' by Karol Cetinsky. Joy Divisions were lines of huts in which deported women were forced to prostitute themselves to Nazi officers on leave.
From the Bob Dylan tune "The ballad of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest". Also a mild curse.
Their original lyricist, Peter Sinfield, thought of it as a synonym for Beelzebub, which is Hebrew for 'Lord of the Flies'. Beelzebub was Satan's chief lieutenant among the fallen angels.
According to Paul Stanley, Kiss was a momentary inspiration that sounded dangerous and sexy at the same time. Kiss denies the fundamentalist rumour that the name stands for 'Knights In Satan's Service'.
An acronym for 'Kopyright Liberation Front', which sums up their attitude towards using samples from other artists.
German for 'power plant'
LL Cool J
"Ladies Love Cool James"
Stories vary, but basically Keith Moon told Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones that their new project would go over like a lead balloon, hence, Led Zeppelin. The 'Led' spelling was to make sure people pronounced the name right.
A type of candy sweet.
A supercomputer in 'The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy' novel gave the answer to life, the universe and everything as "42". There were copyright problems with actually calling the band 42, so they tacked on 'Level'. The rumour that they are named after a sign in the movie 'Brazil' is wrong.
From the lyrics of John Hurt's "Coffee Blues". It's also slang for sperm/semen.
Named after Robert E. Lee High school gym coach, Leonard Skinner, who punished founding members Gary Rossington and Bob Burns several times for breaking the school's strict dress code which did not allow boys to have long hair touching the collar or sideburns below the ears. Earlier band names were 'Noble Five' and 'One Percent'.
MANIC STREET PREACHERS
James Dean Bradfield was inspired by a manic street preaching tramp one day.
Inspired by J.R.R. Tolkein's 'Silmarillion' and probably modified to avoid copyright problems.
The band liked the name for some reason before thinking up the acronym 'Motor City Five' (for Detriot!)
Dave Mustane was inspired by a government pamphlet after getting kicked out of Metallica. A Megadeath is a military term for one million dead people, so World War II was responsible for 80 Megadeaths. Megadeth is the phonetic spelling for Megadeath.
Sci-fi villans in the 'Dan Dare' cartoon strip in the 'Eagle' comic.
Lars Ulrich was helping a friend think of a name for a metal fanzine. The magazine went with 'Metal Mania' and Lars kept Metallica, which was one of the suggestions.
A 1961 movie starring Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe.
They were originally M&B 5 because they wanted to perform in a Birmingham brewery called 'Mitchell's Bottlery.' The building had a big 'MB'. It didn't work so they changed names. Duke Ellington's 'Mood Indigo' was one member's favourite song.
MOTHERS OF INVENTION
Originally just called the Mothers (polite for 'Motherfuckers'.) Their label asked them to add 'of Invention'.
An observant friend said "What a Motley looking Crue."
Slang for a speed freak (which Lemmy evidently was).
MOTT THE HOOPLE
Named for the novel "Mott the Hoople" by Willard Manus.
From a T-Rex song on the Tanx album.
MUMFORD & SONS
The name was meant to invoke the sense of an "antiquated family business name".
Named for a 1965 Russ Meyer film.
MY BLOODY VALENTINE
This Irish / English band was named after a horror film they never actually saw.
NEW YORK DOLLS
Ironic name for five trashy junkies in New York that dressed as women on stage.
In Buddhism it means the state of perfect blessedness attained through the annihilation of the self.
His real name is Gary Webb. He took 'Neuman' from a Yellow Pages listing for a plumbing company and modified the spelling.
Of A Revolution.
Noel Gallagher was a roadie for the Inspiral Carpets when he was inspired to name the band Oasis.
Named after the Cleveland disc jockey Eddie O'Jay, who helped the band out in their early days. They were originally called the Mascots.
An acronym for 'Orchestral Maneouvres in the Dark'
Named after the ancient city from the novel 'The Sunbird' by Wilbur Smith.
A device in Woody Allen's movie 'Sleeper'. The Orb was a silver ball that turned people on when they touched it.
Portuguese for "panther".
"The name is in reference to the pearl itself,... and the natural process from which a pearl comes from. Basically, taking excrement or waste and turning it into something beautiful."
Rumor - Slang for "ejaculated liquid".
Rumor - Eddie Vedder had a great grandmother named Pearl who made a great jam.
(Note: Eddie did have a great grandmother named "Pearl")
PET SHOP BOYS
A bit of a horror story... In the underground gay disco scene they have
(or had) so called darkrooms. You don't know who it is you're doing it
with. A variation is the Pet Shop: you don't know what you're
doing it with.
Shortened from 'Pogue Mahone', which is a distorted version of Póg Mo hón, which is Irish Gaelic for 'kiss my ass'.
For some reason they enjoy using themes related to law enforcement. Consider Sting's name and the Stuart Copeland side project Klark Kent. One of Stuart Copeland's brothers used to head I.R.S. Records and another brother ran the FBI Tour Agency.
In his biography, Gimme Danger, Iggy says it was after one of his early bands, the Iguanas. When he formed The Stooges, their management billed him as Iggy Stooge, but Iggy wasn't too keen on it and changed it to Iggy Pop, reasoning that Pop has a kind of energy to it.
After the Bo Diddley song "Pretty Thing".
Named after Keith Reid's cat.
They enjoy psychedelic music even though they don't play it. After a night of drinking and toying with names like Psychedelic Shoes.... shirts.... socks.... etc, Psychedelic Furs sounded best.
Originally known as Arabacus Pulp (after a commodity Jarvis Cocker learned about during economics). This was shortened to Pulp because nobody else knew what the full name meant.
Freddie Mercury liked the name for the transvestite connotation and the glamorous image of Queens in royalty.
Named after a Talking Heads song called "Radio Head".
Early in his career, Paul McCartney used to call himself Paul Ramone.
'Rapid Eye Movement' is a state of sleep.
Reo Speedwagon was a model name for a line of trucks built by Reo Motors Corporation of Lansing Michigan. Reo (pronounced just as spelled) is derived from the initials of Ransom Ely Olds, who left Oldsmobile, the company he founded, to form Reo in 1905.
Legend has it that they were given a gig after another band failed to show up one night. When asked who they were, Paul Westerberg quipped "We're the Replacements".
The band initially had no name. All their rejection letters were addressed to 'Resident'.
From the Muddy Waters song "Rolling Stone". The name was suggested by Brian Jones.
They were rushing to think up a name before their first gig, and John Rustey's older brother yelled, "Why don't you call your band Rush?".
From an Ann Rice novel.
The title of political writings by Antonio Gramsci, an Italian Marxist.
The Selectors in Jamaican and British dancehall culture are the disc jockeys that play records for dancehall rappers.
Malcolm Mclaren came up with the name. It was partially inspired by his punk clothing shop called 'Sex'.
Their name is from guitarist/singer Jónsi's younger sister "Sigurrós", who was born the same day the band was formed, then split into two words. Literally "Victory" and "Rose".
Taken from a line in the David Bowie song "Jean Genie".
SISTERS OF MERCY
A tribute to the Leonard Cohen song of same name. There is also an order of nuns known as the Sisters of Mercy.
Slang for run down inner city neighborhoods where winos, junkies, street criminals and various poor people can afford to live. Originally called Skip Rope, but Jon Bon Jovi convinced them Skid Row would sound more professional.
Anansie is a creature in Jamaican folklore who is half man, half spider, and always a prankster. Skunk refers to either good marijuana or the smelly little black and white animals.
The title of a Woody Allen movie.
They were inspired by the Who song "I'm The Face". 'Face' is Mod slang for 'stylish guy'. The band members were all short men!
They wanted a generic name void of any preconceptions about their style of music.
Combination of two William Burroughs novels, 'Soft Machine' and 'Wild Boys'.
Origanally called 'The Makers', the band changed their name after a visit to Berlin where one of their roadies saw some graffiti refering to Spandau Prison. Supposedly, there were many hangings there, in which the victims would twitch and jump at the end of a rope... hence, doing the "Spandau Ballet."
A dildo in the William Burroughs novel 'Naked Lunch'. According to Burroughs, the first Steely Dan was a metal dildo that an evil German bulldyke prostitute crushed using her nether regions, and the second Steely Dan is still in use.
The title of a Herman Hesse novel.
Similar to their original name, English Rose (which was inspired by a Rolling Stones song.)
After the mythical river Styx that people crossed over to go into Hell.
Named after a book called 'Autobiography Of A Supertramp', written by R.E. Davies in 1910.
Media jargon for a camera shot showing only the top of someone's shoulders and their head. One of the band members saw this term in a newspaper's T.V. program guide.
THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS
They took the name from a friend's ventriloquist act, which was named after a film starring George C. Scott, which in turn was inspired by a section of Don Quixote. Don Quixote's trusted servant asks why he is preparing to attack several windmills with his lance. Don Quixote replys, "Because they might be giants."
After two characters in the 'Tintin' comics by the Belgium artist Herge.
THREE DOG NIGHT
Inspired by an Australian Aborigine custom of sleeping with three dogs on extremely cold nights.
From the term 'troglodyte'.
A type of spy plane used by the United States. Bono explained once that U2 grew out of thoughts of interactivity with the audience.... as in 'you too.'
Title of an unemployment form. (Unemployment Benefit, Form 40)
UGLY KID JOE
A parody of Pretty Boy Floyd, a band they played a show with early on.
Latin for 'the greatest amount of voice'
From a character in the Dickens novel 'David Copperfield'.
The name of an S&M book a band member found on a sidewalk in New York.
An acronym for 'We Are Sex Perverts'.
They wanted to make it so big in the music business that they named themselves Wham! and their debut album Make It Big.
The legend goes like this: a bunch of people were brainstorming for names. The band members were already so deaf they kept saying, "The who?". Finally, someone suggested the Who as their name.
The group named itself "Wilco" after the military and commercial aviation radio voice abbreviation for "will comply".
Paul McCartney thought of the name while waiting in a hospital wing for Linda to give birth to one of their children.
Andy Partridge was inspried by a Jimmy Durante clip when he said, "That's it, I'm in ecstasy!"
YO LA TENGO
They chose the name "Yo La Tengo" (Spanish for "I have it"; or referring to a female-gender object or person, also "I've Got Her") in an effort to avoid any connotations in English. The name came from a baseball anecdote. During the 1962 season, New York Mets center fielder Richie Ashburn and Venezuelan shortstop Elio Chacón found themselves colliding in the outfield. When Ashburn went for a catch, he would scream, "I got it! I got it!" only to run into Chacón, who spoke only Spanish. Ashburn learned to yell, "¡Yo la tengo! ¡Yo la tengo!" instead.
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