What's In a Band Name?
How some of your favorite bands got their names.
Web2Carz Senior Writer
Published: October 22nd, 2012
e all know the names of our favorite bands, but how much do we know about how those bands got their names? Naming a band is no easy feat, and many bands go through many names before they come up with one that sticks (The Beatles were at various times called the Beetles, The Quarrymen, and The Silver Beetles), and some bands alter their names several times (The Cult started out as Southern Death Cult, then shortened their name to Death Cult before shortening it one last time).
AC/DC: Despite the fact that AC/DC is often used as a slang term for bisexuals, the Australian hard rock band got its name from the back of a sewing machine. They figured (correctly) that it had something to do with power (it refers to alternating current/direct current) and decided it fit their sound perfectly.
Badfinger: The first band signed to The Beatles' Apple label, they were originally called The Iveys, but renamed themselves Badfinger, after "Badfinger Boogie," which was John Lennon's working title for "With A Little Help From My Friends."
Death Cab For Cutie: This name was taken from a song by the eccentric British band The Bonzo Dooh Dah Dog Band. It's unlikely that the lads in Death Cab ever heard of that band on their own. It's more likely that they saw the Bonzos perform this song in The Beatles Magical Mystery Tour movie.
Fall Out Boy: Most people assume the name comes from the comic book/movie featured in an episode of The Simpsons. The real story is that it's what someone in the crowd at one of their early shows shouted out when the band asked for band name suggestions. The audience member might have been thinking of The Simpsons, but the band wasn't. Which is probably why they spell Fallout as two words instead of one, which makes no sense whatsoever.
Foo Fighters: Dave Grohl's post-Nirvana band was named after an old WWII term for UFOs.
Franz Ferdinand: Anyone familiar with world history knows that Franz Ferdinand was the Archduke of Austria whose assassination is considered to be the event that began World War I. Whether anyone familiar with the band knows that is another thing.
Green Day: The latter-day punk band named themselves after a song by singer Billie Joe that described his first experience with pot. It's also been noted that this is a phrase uttered by Ernie on Sesame Street, whose picture was on early editions of the band's first album, Dookie.
Kraftwerk: Named for the German word for power plant. Can also be translated as power station, which happens to be the name of the Duran Duran/Robert Palmer side project famous for the song "Some Like It Hot."
Minus the Bear: The story goes that a friend of the band had gone on a date, and when asked how it went he replied "You know that TV show from the '70s, BJ and The Bear? It was like that…minus the bear."
Pearl Jam: Although the band now denies it and has put forth a rather unbelievable yarn involving Mookie Blaylock's nickname and Eddie Vedder's aunt's jam, it was well known at the time of the band's formation that the name came from a slang term for semen. In the band's previous incarnation (pre-Eddie Vedder) they were known as Mother Love Bone.
Radiohead: Named for one of the more obscure Talking Heads songs, off of one of their worst albums, True Stories. The Talking Heads title was two words "Radio Head"—the version in the True Stories film featured vocals by John Goodman.
Ramones: This punk band's name has a very unpunk origin. Joey Ramone decided that all the band members needed the same last name. The name Paul Ramone was chosen because it was the pseudonym Paul McCartney used to use when checking into hotels.
Rolling Stones: Named for Muddy Waters' song "Rollin' Stone." Original Rolling Stones guitarist Brian Jones supposedly came up with the name on the spot when talking to a reporter for Jazz News who was writing about an upcoming show by the as-yet un-named band.
Soft Machine: This Canterbury, England-based prog rock band took their name from the title of a book by William S. Burroughs. The name refers to the human body. A spin-off band formed by drummer Robert Wyatt was named Matching Mole—a reference to his former band's name, which in French is "Machine Molle."
Steely Dan: Another William S Burroughs reference, this time from the book Naked Lunch. "Steely Dan III from Yokohama" was the name of a strap-on dildo mentioned in the book.