Tag Archives: the stories behind rock band names

How Rock Bands Got Their Names 4

atkins-bookshelf-musicSome rock band names are very clever, and some are just plain odd. Regardless of how they sound, all were inspired by a magazine, toy, sexual terms, or even a passing comment. Below are a few interesting band names and their origins (some might earn an MA rating):

Goo Goo Dolls: The band was named after a toy, a Goo Goo Doll, that was featured in an ad in the magazine True Detective.

Scissor Sisters: The pop group began as Dead Lesbian, then Fibrillating Scissor Sisters, before they settled on Scissor Sisters. The name is derived from the lesbian sex act in which a woman rubs her vulva against her partner’s vulva, their legs intersecting like two scissors (the formal name is tribadism, the slang term is tribbing).

Smashing Pumpkins: Vocalist and guitarist Billy Corgan explained that he was in someone’s kitchen and they were having a conversation about something, and he heard someone talk about smashing pumpkins, and he thought to himself “Oh, that’s a pretty good mythical band name, ha, ha.”

Steely Dan: Founding members Donald Fagen and Walter Becker named the band after a strap-on dildo, the Steely Dan III from Yokohama, mentioned in the novel The Naked Lunch (1959) by William S. Burroughs. Really. (Incidentally, the novel, a series of loosely connected vignettes, is told from the point of view of a William Lee, a junkie. The book’s title was suggested by Jack Kerouac. Naked lunch is the “frozen moment when everyone sees what is on the end of every fork.”)

Stone Temple Pilots: During their youth, the members of the band were huge fans of the STP motor oil stickers. They wanted a band name that contained those same initials and considered Shirley Temple’s Pussy and Stereo Temple Pirates, before settling on Stone Temple Pilots.

SuperTramp: The band was initially known as “Daddy” but it sounded to similar to another band, Daddy Longlegs. The band members chose Supertramp from the title of the book The Autobiography of a Super-Tramp (1908) by Welsh poet W. H. Davies.

Talking Heads: The band started out as The Artistics since three band members (David Byrne, Chris Frantz, and Tina Weymouth) were alumni of the Rhode Island School of Design. Founding member Tina Weymouth explains “A friend found the name in the TV Guide, which explained the term used by TV studios to describe a head-and-shoulder shot of a person talking as ‘all content, no action.’ It fit.”

Yes: Founding member and vocalist Jon Anderson initially suggested “Life” while bassist Chris Squire wanted “World.” Anderson explains “Yes got pulled out of the bag, I think. We wanted to display a strong conviction in what we were doing. We had to have a strong and straight title for the band.”

 

READ THE BEST BOOKS ON BAND NAME ORIGINS

        

Read related posts: Origins of the Beatles Name
The Dark Side of the Moon Turns 40
Best Books for Music Lovers
How Many Music Genres Exist?
How Rock Bands Got Their Names 1
How Rock Bands Got Their Names 2
How Rock Bands Got Their Names 3

For further reading: Rock Names: From Abba to ZZ Top by Adam Dolgins, Citadel Press (1998)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_band_name_etymologies


How Rock Bands Got Their Names 3

atkins-bookshelf-musicSome rock band names are very clever, and some are just plain odd. Regardless of how they sound, all were inspired by a magazine, movie, slang phrase, or even a passing comment. Below are a few interesting rock band names and their origins:

Aerosmith: While in high school drummer Joey Kramer began doodling  the word “Aerosmith” in his notebooks after hearing Harry Nilsson’s Aerial Ballet. He thought it sounded cool. The other name the band considered was The Hookers.

Bachman-Turner Overdrive: The surnames belong to Randy (guitarist), Tim (guitarist), Robin “Robbie” (drummer) and Gary Bachman (manager) in addition to C. F. “Fred” Turner (singer). While at a truckstop, the band members saw a magazine titled Overdrive which they though captured the essence of their music.

Cheap Trick: In the early 1970s, the band toured under various names: Fuse, Nazz, and Sick Man of Europe. Some time in the mid 70s, bass guitarist Tom Petersson remarked that the band used “every cheap trick in the book” as part of their musical act.

Depeche Mode: The British band was named after a French fashion magazine title depeche mode. There is an urban myth perpetuated on many websites that depeche mode means “fast fashion;” however, the correct English translation from the French is “fashion news” or “fashion update.”

Death Cab for Cutie: Ben Gibbard (singer, guitarist) named the band after a song by the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band that appeared in the Beatles’ movie, Magical Mystery Tour (1967). It was the only song in the movie that was not a Beatles song.

Evanescence: Band founders Amy Lee and Ben Moody performed as Childish Intentions and Stricken in the early years. They finally settled on Evanescence derived from the word evanesce which means “to disappear.”

Five for Fighting: Singer and pianist Vladimir John Ondrasik III adopted the stage name, Five for Fighting, which is a term used in ice hockey that refers to the five-minute penalty that a player receives when fighting another player.

READ THE BEST BOOKS ON BAND NAME ORIGINS

        

Read related posts: Origins of the Beatles Name
The Dark Side of the Moon Turns 40
Best Books for Music Lovers
How Many Music Genres Exist?
How Rock Bands Got Their Names 1
How Rock Bands Got Their Names 2

For further reading: Rock Names: From Abba to ZZ Top by Adam Dolgins, Citadel Press (1998)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_band_name_etymologies


How Rock Bands Got Their Names 2

atkins-bookshelf-musicSome rock band names are very clever, and some are just plain odd. Regardless of how they sound, all were inspired by a specific book, dream, slang phrase, and even a comment by critic. Below are a few interesting rock band names and their origins:

10cc: The name appeared in Jonathan King’s (the person who signed the band) dream: “I went to sleep that night and had this dream that a band of mine on my label made number one on the album and singles charts simultaneously in America, and the band was 10cc.” (This is contrary to the urban myth that the number refers to the average male’s volume of ejaculate, which actually contains only 3cc of semen.)

Air Supply: The name appeared in Graham Russell’s (the person who signed the band) dream.

Backstreet Boys: Named after a flea market in Orlando, Florida.

Coldplay: Named after a book of poems titled Child’s Reflections: Cold Play by Philip Horky.

Daft Punk: Named after a music critic described the band’s music playing as “a daft punky thrash”

Dire Straits: Named after the bands difficult financial situation when they formed. (Something that most musicians can relate to.)

The Doors: Named after the book The Doors of Perception by Aldous Huxley.

Electric Light Orchestra (ELO): Refers to the band’s unique combination of electric rock instruments and a light orchestra (as opposed to a full orchestra), consisting of just a few violins and cellos.

Foo Fighters: Named after military slang, used by pilots flying in WWII, to describe UFOs.
 

Read related posts: Origins of the Beatles Name
The Dark Side of the Moon Turns 40
Best Books for Music Lovers
How Many Music Genres Exist?

For further reading: Rock Names: From Abba to ZZ Top by Adam Dolgins, Citadel Press (1998)
http://snopes.com/music/artists/10cc.asp
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_band_name_etymologies


How Rock Bands Got Their Names

After listening to a Jefferson Airplane song one day, Adam Dolgins wondered: “What is a Jefferson Airplane anyway? And, for that matter, who is Pink Floyd?” Those questions inspired his book: Rock Names: From ABBA to ZZ Top (subtitled: How Rock Bands Got Their Names). Dolgins did his research the old school way (as any rock aficionado should), conducting interviews with the band members via phone and — get this — fax. The result is a fascinating collection of rock band names — from the traditional to the outlandish — and best of all, the colorful stories  behind the names. Rock names were inspired by a variety of sources, including books, movies, nicknames, musicians (particularly blues musicians that greatly influenced and gave birth to rock and roll), celebrities, and even pets. Below are a few interesting rock band names and their origins:

ABBA: An acronym of the first initials of the names of the four band members.

AC/DC: The band members chose the name because it represented their “high voltage” sound. It had nothing to do with the reference to bisexuality.

Flock of Seagulls: Named after the book Jonathan Livingston Seagull a fable by Richard Bach.

Bad Company: Named after the film Bad Company (1972) starring Jeff Bridges.

The B-52s: Named after towering bouffant hairdos and not the U.S. Air Force bombers.

Blue Oyster Cult: Name inspired by a menu that featured Blue Point Oysters.

Boomtown Rats: Named after a term described in Woody Guthrie’s autobiography, Bound for Glory. Kids who moved into the boom towns of Oklahoma were excluded from existing gangs, so they formed their own new groups, calling themselves “Boomtown Rats.”

Elvis Costello: Declan MacManus’s manager picked out the first name and Declan used his mother’s maiden name as his last name.

Deep Purple: Named after one of the bandmember’s grandmother’s favorite songs performed by Nino Tempo.

Jefferson Airplane: Inspired by a dog named Blind Thomas Jefferson Airplane, that was, in turn, named after Blind Thomas Jefferson, a famous American blues guitarist and singer from the 1920s known as the “Father of the Texas Blues.” As his name implies, Jefferson was born blind.

Marilyn Manson: A combination of two names: Marilyn Monroe and Charles Manson.

Meat Loaf: The lead singer’s high school nickname given to him by a football coach.

Pink Floyd: A combination of two names: Pink Anderson and Floyd Council, two Georgia bluesmen.

ZZ Top: A combination of two names: Z.Z. Hill, a Texas bluesman, and Top, a brand of rolling paper. 

Read related posts: Origins of the Beatles Name
The Dark Side of the Moon Turns 40
Best Books for Music Lovers
How Many Music Genres Exist?

For further reading: Rock Names: From Abba to ZZ Top by Adam Dolgins, Citadel Press (1998)


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