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Wednesday, 08 April 2020


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I have always liked the name King Crimson. Have no idea what it means but it still sounds cool to me. Also, Pink Floyd.

Gang of Four, XTC, INXS, Big Audio Dynamite, China Crisis, Cowboys International, Echo & the Bunnymen, The Moping Swans, The Psychedelic
Furs or their spinoff Love Spit Love, etc. I'll stop now.

The Eagles is also a good name for a band.
There are also puns about body parts: "Little Feat".

There was Buddy Holly and the Crickets so the Beatles was probably A UK answer to such a band name.

I feel the Beatles would have had a much shorter shelf life if they had not reinvented themselves. Entertainers cannot be a teenybopper girl magnets for long as someone else "will" be the new sensation. But then came Strawberry Fields and a whole new image.

Don't forget The Vibrators, formerly The Buzzcocks (I think). And the Dead Kennedys.

Bad Taste and Vulgarity alert: I recall two band names from the music club scene in 1980's LosAngeles:
'Roid Rogers And The Whirling Butt Cherries', and, of course, 'Grampa Becomes A Fungus'.

My favorite band name is probably Guns N' Roses, formed by the merger of two other well-named bands, Hollywood Rose and L.A. Guns. I also like Red Hot Chili Peppers and Lynryd Skynyrd (named after the band members' high school gym coach, Leonard Skinner, a relentless enforcer of their school's policy against long hair on males.) Always thought the name of one of the most famous bands in the world, U2, was really bland, and like the Beatles, seemed like a poor pun (You Too.) Those bands together have a bunch of made-up members' names, Bono, Edge, Slash, Flea. (Old joke: the difference between Bono and God? God doesn't think he's Bono.) Some bands, like The Pretenders, have non-memorable names, but you always remembered it because, I mean, Chrissie Hynde is going to be memorable no matter what the band was called. I've often thought I'd like to start a band called "Dog Butt."

I always thought The Subdudes had one of the best names for a band.

I always like Bill and Taffy Danoff's duo name of "Fat City" as well as their music of course.

A beautiful, elegiac post. Thank you.

Muddy Waters recorded a song called Rolling Stone in 1950. It is his interpretation of "Catfish Blues", a Delta blues that dates back to the 1920s. And from that came the names of a band, a magazine and a song by Dylan. If you are interested The Stones did a live recording of Dylan's "Like A Rolling Stone". https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z_JF0N-m0-k

My understanding of why The Byrds are spelled like that was because there already was a band in the UK called The Birds.

A jefferson airplane was a slang term for a used paper match splint to hold a marijuana joint to avoid burning one's fingers

Perhaps one of the worst band names ever is The Butthole Surfers.

I have a lot of useless stuff in my head. Glad I got to use it today.

[In one of the earliest photography classes I taught--college and adult students--there was a humorless young man who seemingly never smiled. Somehow one day the topic of the Butthole Surfers came up in class; I think he was wearing a BS T-shirt. I laughed when I heard the name and learned it was a band name. I probably said something snarky like, "so I guess they don't want to risk being popular?" or something like that, which might have made other people laugh. He gazed at me blankly without a hint of amusement and said, "Why are you laughing? I don't see anything funny. There's nothing funny about it. It's their NAME. Do you laugh at other people for their names?" and so on.... --Mike]

Earth, Wind and Fire was originally The Salty Peppers.

The Beatles had a number of different names, including The Quarrymen. One story has early band member Stu Sutcliffe suggesting the name The Beatals, as a tribute to Buddy Holly's band, The Crickets. Eventually they became The Beatles, and that was that. A brand name is hard to escape from.

Thank you for these wonderful stories of band name origins.

No offense but you can't talk about the rolling stones name without talking about Muddy Waters. I'm not even sure Muddy Waters would have been familiar with the phrase. It's quite possibly something he invented. But regardless, that's why the Rolling Stones are called that.

And it's the Tibetan Book of the Dead as far as I know. And they're Buddhist. I'm not a scholar here at all but I would assume the dead are grateful because they are going to be reincarnated hopefully into a more enlightened form.

Don't quote me there.

The Mothers of Invention

The ironically-named and melancholy band Joy Division was named after the area where Nazi concentration camp women were being used as sexual slaves mentioned in the 1955 novel House of Dolls.

After lead singer Ian Curtis committed suicide, the rest of the band regrouped and named themselves “New Order,” a (generally) upbeat pop and dance band, though despite the history and popular belief, the new name was not in reference to the Nazi doctrine but to the manager seeing an article about the “people’s New Order of Kampuchea”.

I've always been partial to the name Strawberry Alarm Clock.

Cold war era tome, "On Thermonuclear War," (after "On War" by Clausewitz), asked, "Will the living envy the dead?" So, for me, I always took Grateful Dead to refer to those whom the living envy.

Puzzling band name: The Bad Plus

[...Editors needed everywhere, as I always say...that name should never have made it out of the meeting.... :-) --Mike]

Somewhere on the Internet there's a "random band name generator", just in case you don't know what to call your group. I imagine many bands, current and past, have used that service...

One of the neighbors daughter started a band when she was 10 called Care Bears On Fire , but I think the band that probably scored the highest on names that might be offensive, yet are really descriptive was Reverb Mother Fuckers

My favorite post punk meets fine arts grad school program story was the time a friend of mine was taking a critical theory class at CalArts where everybody was supposed to bring in some cultural artifact to, I guess apply critical theory for lack of better words, and he brought the band Black Flag. As in the actual band, with all their instruments and a PA system playing a full half hour set at full club volume in the classroom across the hall from the administrators offices for the art department. At 10 o’clock in the morning. Then the rest of the day was spent discussing the performance in the context of Post-structuralism and the writing of Michel Foucault.

Henry Rollins is one smart guy BTW.

To one side. The Grateful Dead reminded me of this black humour from Ireland. A song my father loved. https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=dubliners+isnt+it+grand&docid=607994101155498525&mid=FF3E391A0D0FD8A11A74FF3E391A0D0FD8A11A74&view=detail&FORM=VIRE

What, no Dead Kennedy's? (Most of these names I've heard; I don't know much music by most of them though, being remarkably ignorant of popular culture in general and music in particular.)

The Monochrome Set and Aztec Camera

UB40 is the title of the form one fills put to get on welfare in the UK.

My understanding from that time in history has always been that a "Jefferson Airplane" was a toothpick or something similar that was used to hold a marijuana cigarette so that it could be smoked all the way down without burning one's fingers. (I am almost 20 years older than you, Mike.)

The Bad Plus is an great jazz trio. They do jazz versions of pop tunes like these; Everybody Wants To Rule The World https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q9hOSZGMXlI and Every Breath You Take https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4_6sP_dCJPY

The Who, really no one The Who?

And for you jazz fans, The Art Ensemble of Chicago. I got to spend some time with Lester Bowie, considered by some to be the best trumpeter after Miles passed. What a down to earth guy.

From “Memo from Turner” by, yes, the Rolling Stones: “You’ll still be in the circus when I’m laughing in my grave.”

The blandly named The Bobs has a song about the challenges of Naming The Band: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HZ82EfFCyXg. Candidate names include Elvis, Hitler, and Chucking Lunch, none of which seemed to be right...

Talking Heads

Oingo Boingo


An interesting aside: both the Grateful Dead and the Velvet Underground started out with the same name, the Warlocks. Funny coincidence, that...

Moondog isn’t a band name per se, but great nonetheless...!

Try not to stress too much about COVID... it’s an awful reality, and we just need to keep ourselves going and stay as positive as we can.

Stay safe and healthy!

When we wanted to name our band, the only jug band in Taiwan, we referenced the fact that Taipei is located in a basin where it rains quite a bit, as well as the fact that we all had to come quite a distance to get together, and boom, the Muddy Basin Ramblers were born.

Sixteen years, four albums and two Grammy nominations later, we still think it's a pretty good name ;)

Judging strictly by name, NOT by their music:

What I think of as good band names: Cream, Dire Straits, Smashing Pumpkins, The Who, Talking Heads, Grateful Dead, Pink Floyd.

And not so good band names, imho: Derek and the Dominos, Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Monkees, Third Eye Blind, Hootie & the Blowfish, .38 Special, 10,000 Maniacs, the Doobie Brothers, Wild Cherry, Steely Dan, Kool & the Gang, the Georgia Satellites, and Cheap Trick.

I can't decide which category The Kinks and ZZ Top should be placed in.

Oh, and I think U2 was named for the spy plane, not as a way of blandly saying you too.


I was infected with The The once...

Then there was Massive Attack, who had to be referred to as just Massive when radio stations played their tracks during the start of one of the Gulf Wars (can't remember which one).

Great namecheck for The The by the way ... Do love that band.

The Ramones, Motorhead, Pere Ubu, 13th Floor Elevators, Dead Boys, Angry Samoans,

Some band names from the north east of England in the eighties:' HDQ' ( Hung, Drawn & Quartered I think ) 'Crucified By Christians', 'Hellbastard' & 'Legion of Parasites'.

Also remember a friend having a 7" single with about 50 tracks on it by a band called 'Anal C**t'.

The UB40 was the card you presented when you went to 'sign on' fortnightly at the Unemployment Benefit Office. I had a UB40 before I even left school ( 1980 ): My area had the highest level of unemployment in mainland Britain so the benefits people figured that no 16 year old leaving school stood a cat in hell's chance of getting a job & visited schools in order to hand out UB40's to the kids who were about to leave.

I'll bet pretty much everyone in the aforementioned bands was in possession of a UB40.

Today I'm about to furlough myself from our business ( not much work due to COVID ) so it's back to UB40 world for the time being.

Re COVID I'm just doing what I can to deal with & beyond that trusting my fate to The Will of God, The Benign Indifference of the Universe or Dumb Luck ( take your pick - I know which one I believe in ).

It sounds like you're pretty well placed where you live re social distancing. Our front door is just over a foot away from our neighbours so if COVID does kick off here we'll get it.

I'm catching up with house / DIY stuff I should have done 10 years ago.

Chill out, walk the dogs, take some photos.

Best wishes.

Pink Floyd were named after the blues artists Pink Anderson and Floyd Council.

Van der Graaf Generator

I was at school with the younger brother of Pete Hanmmill, the co-founder with Chris Judge Smith.

We were invited to a concert at Preston Town Hall given by the Generator, around 1972 - before Health and Safety and all that. Loud simply doesn't describe it, not distorted, simply loud.

The good news is that Hammill and Smith and still going strong, Pete having also done a lot of interesting solo albums.

I once played in a band called Arpad and the New Sons of the Industrial Revolution.

You've corrected my lifetime understanding of Papa Was a Rolling Stone. I always hear that line as "all he left us was a loan" (consistent with "dealing in debt" elsewhere in the song. But you have it right!

One never stops learning from this site. All this time I've heard the lyrics of that song as, "All he left us was a loan." As in an unpaid debt, maybe.

Oh well. 'Scuse me while I kiss this guy.

In my college years, one name we considered for our band was “Live Nude Dancing” - but then we thought about what might happen when people showed up at the bar and found us.....and didn't like our music...

Band names? Can I mention something else, Mike?
No really, Something Else was the name of a Rock band in South London during 1964 and 1965.
Actually it was written as Somethin' Else as a nod to the Eddie Cochran song.

An observation from someone in a non-English-speaking country: Here, we mostly treat band names in the same way as regular names. A bit hard to explain, but for instance probably 90% of Danes don’t even know what the term “Dire Straits” mean. Or when someone talks about “Deep Purple”. literally nobody here thinks of that as a colour. Most of us would probably find it ridiculous if a band named themself after a colour, if they used the Danish word for it.

A bit late, but still apropos. Most alternative bands of the 80s might have gone under the crowds' radar, but some of them had pretty interesting names. How about New Fast Automatic Daffodils, Ned's Atomic Dustbin, Trash Can Sinatras, The Man They Couldn't Hang, The Mighty Wah, Echo and the Bunnymen, or Half Man Half Biscuit?
In the late 90s there used to be a dance act called Crazy Penis, which is quite striking; and, although Dead Kennedys isn't a name to write home about, you've got to pay respect to their frontman, Jello Biafra.
But the greatest band name of all time has to be - brace yourself! - Butthole Surfers. Incidentally, they used to have a drummer who liked people to call her "Teresa Nervosa".

Dear Mike, it occured to me that you might like to know the fact that the name of one of the most popular bands in my country (it does not exist any more, it was called Yugoslavia)was simply -- Film!
But, as one of their incarnations was called Le Cinema, it becomes obvious that they meant cinematography, so their choice of the name surely does not mean that the surviving members would have had any strong suggestions about your recent (and life-long)film projects :-)

The Undertones.

Plus they have a significant distinction:

"John Peel ... considered Teenage Kicks his all-time favourite song, an opinion he held through to his death in 2004."


[How curious. To me that's a pleasant but anodyne song without much distinction. But then, Thunderclap Newman's "Something in the Air" has always been magic for me—loved it on first hearing, an occasion I can still recall, and the appeal has never left me. There are a few dozen other songs like that too for me. So I can't argue. "Teenage Kicks" must have really touched him somehow. --Mike]

I think the Tragically Hip named themselves well. Question Mark and the Mysterians was unique. Also, I quite like The Guess Who. The name The Electric Prunes wasn't so bad, but I may just be bias because I am distantly related to one of the band members.

I agree with you about The Grateful Dead, but they are one of my favourite bands, so I am again probably guilty of unconscious bias.

The Shadows. That is a great name for Cliff Richard's band. Of course, they really didn't stay in the shadows, being huge stars in their own right.

For odd/silly band names about 30-40 years ago, the place to look was Time Out magazine's music listings pages - usually semi-pro bands doing pub gigs - names like 'Red Lorry, Yellow Lorry', 'Ken Dodd's Dad's Dog's Dead', 'God and the Sex Crazed Lesbians from Hell' and spoof names like 'The Sisters of Murphy' and 'Hugh Reed and the Velvet Underpants' - the latter once having to take out a restraining order on another band who tried to steal the name!

As for The Dead, I only managed to catch them once, on the first night of their last visit to England at the Wembley Arena. A great night - out of my head on cheap lager and passive smoking - there was this big sweet smelling cloud almost filling the arena by the end of the first number! And they did the whole of side one of Terrapin Station. OK, so I'm the only person in the country who likes that album, but, hey, so what?

Wonderful diversion from the dread of these days. I am an unabashed Beatle fan. Whenever I think of the Beatles qua Beatles, it is always of the cool lettering on Ringo's bass drum: the pounding heart of the Beat.

The name of a band is a promise and then eventually a correspondence to the experience of having listened to their music. It is obviously a marketing technique in the age of capitalism, but it has had an interesting side-effect.

A few of my favorite bands whose names are, to me, cool:

Kiss (for fans who had no idea what such a thing was), Depeche Mode (Depressed Mode), Joy Division (all-in in its cynicism about the human race), Dead Boys (prophetic), Roxy Music (truly its own musical genre), Guided By Voices (great pun), Nirvana (Kurt telegraphed his suicide in many ways), M83 (succinctly futuristic), Broadcast (our belated state as consumers hoc creators), Tame Impala (consummately Millennial).

Wow, i never made the connection from beatles to ‘beat’ or ‘to beat’.

In the Netherlands we had a band called “Doe Maar”, translate as “just do (it).

Q: what record you want me to play?
A: Doe maar Doe maar, translates like: Just do Just Do’.
I know, a lame joke

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