You might wonder how some of those famous bands came to be known by the names they chose. Well, I’m here to enlighten you with just a few. For example, the Swedish band, ABBA is nothing more than an acronym using the first letters of the first names of its members. Agnetha, Bjorn, Benny & Anni-Frid. Nothing more, nothing less.
Back in 1925 author Sinclair Lewis wrote a book called “Arrowsmith.” Some think that is the origin while others claim that their drummer, Joey Kramer thought it up as he was in the habit of writing “Aerosmith” all over his notebooks in high school.
Before Ted Nugent struck out on his own as a solo artist, he fronted a band called The Amboy Dukes. That name was inspired by a 1942 novel about Brooklyn street gangs written by Irving Schulman.
Randy Bachman (guitarist with The Guess Who) and bassist C.F. Turner combined their last names along with the name of a trucker’s magazine, “Overdrive.”
When Lennon and McCartney wrote “With A Little Help From My Friends” for the Sergeant Pepper’s album, they used the working title of “The Badfinger Boogie.” That’s where the band Badfinger took their name from.
In 1972 actor Jeff Bridges made a movie called “Bad Company.” After the band, Free (All Right Now) broke up, they reformed and took that movie title as their name.
Mid-70s pop rockers, The Bay City Rollers got their name in an unusual fashion. They blindly stuck a pin on a U.S. map and it landed on Bay City, Michigan.
The Beatles. Now there’s a story all in itself with several versions floating around. In 1960 they called themselves The Beetles, paying homage to their hero, Buddy Holly and his band, The Crickets. John Lennon was also influenced by one of his favorite Marlon Brando movies, “The Wild One.” The motorcycle gang in that movie called themselves The Beetles. Later Lennon would combine Beetles and Beat to form The Beatles.
The Bee Gees is an easy one to figure out. They were originally called The Rattlesnakes but shortened it to the initials, BG for Brothers Gibb before settling on the final spelling.
Back in the 60s there was an up and coming band called Earth. When they found out there was already another band with that name, they decided to name themselves after a 1963 Boris Karloff movie, “Black Sabbath.” Way to go, Ozzy.
One of my favorite songs from the 60s era is “Hang ‘Em High” by Booker T. & The MGs. Organist Booker T. is Booker T. Jones while the MG stands for “Memphis Group” where the band recorded.
Before Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young there was Buffalo Springfield, which featured Steve Stills and Neil Young. This band took their name right off the side of a steamroller they saw parked outside their house one day—The Buffalo Springfield Roller Company.
Cheap Trick: Imagine a four-piece band where two of the members look like rock stars and two of them look like dweebs. Tom Peterson and Robin Zander fit the rock star molds while Rick Nielsen looked like “Satch” from the Bowery Boys and Bun E. Carlos looked more like Dan Ackroyd playing an accountant. When people saw this combination they remarked, “Boy, that’s a cheap trick.”
It’s 1967 and a band called The Big Thing is starting to make a splash in their native town of Chicago. They changed the band’s name to The Chicago Transit Authority and cut an album. In no time at all the real Chicago Transit Authority (Chicago’s public transportation department) threatened to sue the band, prompting them to shorten their name to simply, Chicago. The rest, as they say, is history.
Originally called The Golliwogs, this band was kicking back one day and noticed the logo on a can of Olympia Beer and got inspired to change their name to Creedence Clearwater Revival.
Guitarist Ritchie Blackmore’s grandmother was a huge Bing Crosby fan and was especially fond of Bing’s rendition of “Deep Purple.” So when Ritchie formed his band, he though of grandma and her favorite song and Deep Purple was born. You think grandma used to like to float on an air mattress puffing a cigar? That might have inspired a song like “Smoke On The Water.” Maybe not.
How’d you like to buy tickets to see a band called Pud? Me neither. Maybe that’s why this band, who like to toke up from time to time, took heed when someone pointed out to them that they were, indeed, Doobie Brothers (doobie being slang for a marijuana joint).
I can’t imagine a superstar multi-million selling artist named Reginald Dwight. Sounds kinda mediocre to me. That’s probably why Reggie took the first name of British musician Elton Dean as his own. For his last name, Reggie chose the first name of John Baldry and became Elton John.
The first book in the Bible is called Genesis. This group’s first album was titled, “From Genesis to Revelation.” The band took their name – Genesis – from this project.
“Mom, can I have ten bucks to buy the latest album from The Sex Maggots?” Most moms would say no. The same kid asks for ten bucks to buy the latest album from The Goo Goo Dolls and mom’s bound to say yes. This band took its name from a “True Detective” magazine ad for a doll that changed its expression when you stuck your finger in its head.
Terry Knight and The Pack had but one hit, “I Who Have Nothing.” Terry left the band and guitarist Mark Farner was pushed into the position of front man. Now they needed a band name and the name of the railroad that ran through their city was handy…The Grand Trunk Railroad. They changed Trunk to Funk and went on their merry way.
At the close of the 60s The Yardbirds were disbanding and surviving members thought about calling the newly formed band The New Yardbirds. Who drummer, Keith moon said, “that’ll go over like a lead zeppelin.” Jimmy Page changed “lead” to “led” so people would pronounce it correctly.
Suppose you’re in high school and trying to get your band off the ground. Your gym coach is always ragging on you to get a haircut and straighten up and fly right. But you don’t wanna. How can you get even with your coach and at the same time come up with a name for your band? Simple. Name the band after the coach—coach Leonard Skinner. Only now you have to change the spelling to avoid a lawsuit. How about Lynyrd Skynyrd? Wonder what ol’ Leonard thinks about his boys now.
There were a couple of Georgia musicians named Pink Anderson and Floyd Council. A nameless band happened to like these two and nearly named themselves Anderson-Council, but decided on the first names instead. Thus was born Pink Floyd.
Brian Jones heard a Muddy Waters song called “Rolling Stone” and liked it so much he named his new band after it. How ironic that Brian liked Mr. Waters and then drowned in a swimming pool.
Australian nights can get pretty cold and as any Aborigine shepherd who’s slept out in the open can tell you, to stave off the cold you’d better sleep with your sheep dog. If it’s colder the next night, add another dog. A “Three Dog Night” would have to be pretty darn cold. Somewhere along the line, Chuck Negron, Danny Hotton and Corry Wells heard that phrase and named their band after it.
Here’s a band just starting out and the announcer tells the audience, “Give a warm welcome to The High Numbers.” Must have been a bad P.A. of a soft-spoken M.C. because the audience was asking each other, “The Who?” So that’s where Pete Townsend and Roger Daltry came up with that name.
In the drug world there are two kinds of joint rolling papers available, Zig Zag and Tops. Take the first initials of the first brand and the whole last name and you have ZZ Top. Who’d suspect by looking at these clean-cut guys that they were into grass?
As for my own experience, my second band was founded by a guy who liked the movie, “Catch-22.” He liked one of the characters from that move and named our band after him — Colonel Korn. It beat out the second choice, The Dry Heaves, by a wide margin.
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