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Weird Origins of 8 Popular Band Names

There are some weird bands out there with some even weirder names. Here's a collection of bands and the story of how they came up with their titles. If you have any bands you're curious about, list them in the comments, I might do a part two of this article if you all like it.

Pink Floyd

Pink Floyd was originally called "The Tea Set," but changed their moniker after finding a group of the same name was booked at a show they were scheduled to play. The band decided to change their name to "The Pink Floyd Sound" –later shortened to "Pink Floyd" -after seeing the names "Pink Anderson" and "Floyd Council" on the notes of a Blind Boy Fuller album. It’s likely all for the best, would you go and see a movie called “The Tea Set’s The Wall?” Source Image via Tea Set on Wikipedia

Black Sabbath

Ozzy’s band of mischief didn’t start off nearly as dark as it ended up. The group’s first name was "The Polka Tulk Blues Company," which was soon shortened to just “Polka Tulk.” After a while, they renamed themselves “Earth,” but had to change their name again when they found out there was another British band with that name. One day, bassist Geezer Butler saw a bunch of people lined up at the theater across the street from their rehearsal room. The movie showing was the Boris Karloff movie Black Sabbath. He noted how much money people spend to see scary films and used the film’s title for a song he wrote inspired by occult writer Dennis Wheatley. This song changed the entire music direction of the band and they started playing much darker songs than other musicians of the time. In 1969, the group decided to change their name to "Black Sabbath" to reflect their new decision to make the musical version of horror movies. Source | Image Via IMDB

Lynyrd Skynyrd

The original band was called “The Noble Five” and the year after it was changed to “My Backyard.” By 1970, it was obvious the group needed a new moniker. They decided on "Leonard Skinnerd," to make fun of their high school gym teacher Leonard Skinner, who frequently harassed boys to maintain the school dress code that banned long hair. They changed the spelling before they released their first album and the rest was history. Source


Before founding Motörhead, Lemmy Killmister was in a psychedelic rock group called Hawkwind. He was a heavy user of amphetamines and the last song he wrote for the band was called "Motorhead" –a British expression for a speed freak. Lemmy also held onto that song and it became a standard of the Motörhead lineup. The umlauts in the band name mean nothing -he just thought they sounded cool. Source

Joy Division

History buffs may know the term “joy division” to mean a prostitution division of a concentration camp, it was used to reward prisoners and guards alike. It’s interesting that a term this vile has lost most of its meaning, as most people merely associate it with the band, who adopted the name after reading the term in the 1955 novel The House of Dolls. Source

Duran Duran

Here’s a group that got the right name, right away. But where did “Duran Duran” come from? The villain in Barbarella, a really bad B-movie, was called “Dr. Durand Durand.” Source Image Via Barbarella on Wikipedia

Porno For Pyros

After leaving Jayne’s Addiction, band members Perry Farrell and Stephen Perkins wanted to start up a new project. Farrell was looking in a porno magazine where he saw an ad for fireworks. The name fits even better when you consider that right around the time of their inception, the LA Riots had just happened. Source

Gogol Bordello

The band was originally called "Hütz and the Béla Bartóks," but they decided to change it because, according to singer Eugene Hütz, no one in America knows about Béla Bartók (in case you don’t know, he is a Hungarian composer considered by many to be the best composer of the twentieth century). As a result, the group changed their name to Gogol Bordello. “Gogol” referencing writer Nikolai Gogol because the band considered him to have “smuggled” Ukranian culture into Russian society, which is similar to what the group wishes to do with their Eastern-styled music in America. Of course, I think you know what “bordello” means. Source

"Bad B Movie"? Oh please, get some taste. "Barbarella" is one of the greatest B movies of all time! And the soundtrack is fantastic! Speaking of bands that took their names from lines in moives, I'm surprised you didn't put "Heaven Seventeen" (taken from "A Clockwork Orange") on here.
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Whoa whoa whoa, did you just call Barbarella "a really bad B-movie?"

By B-movie standards, Barbarella is KING of the B-movies. It's the Citizen Kane of B-movies.

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Barbarella is nor B nor Bad. It's intentionally camp and hilarious, like 60's Batman, it had high production values when it was made, and it stars Jane Fonda!!
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I love anything that Perry Farrell has been involved in whether it's Jane's Addiction, Porno for Pyros, or his solo work.

The Tea Set just cracks me up.

Very interesting post. :)
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I think the best band name is "Strawberry Alarm Clock"--and I would like to know how they came up with that name (and since it is a 60's band, I imagine illicit drugs were involved).

In case you don't know, their only hit was "Incense and Peppermint"--real trippy, man.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)'ve forgotten my favorite band, Steely Dan, whose name was taken from a William S. Burroughs novel, Naked Lunch. A "steely dan" was an, er, dildo.
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Thank you, I've always wondered why they were called Gogol Bordello. I'm also very excited to see them in concert in 3 weeks!

Let's see, I probably have a couple. The Eels is pretty much just one guy who used to go by 'E' (because of his last name) but it was impractical and too hard to find his stuff so he arbitrarily started putting his stuff under The Eels.

The band Flogging Molly is named after a bar in LA that they played in their early days (and still play now sometimes) called Molly Malone's.

ZZ Top got there name from a place called the Pizza Stop. I'll let you guys which letters were illuminated (not 100% sure on this one, but I like it).

Pennywise is of course named after Pennywise the Clown from IT

Radiohead is named after a Talking Heads song

Neutral Milk Hotel... You got me, this name makes no sense.
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Blondie supposedly picked their name because that's what truck drivers and construction workers would yell at Debbie Harry as she walked around NYC. I think they played as The Stilettos for a bit before that.

Mudhoney took their name from the Russ Meyer movie of the same title.

Spandau Ballet got there name from a term coined in reference to the frequent suicides of Nazis being held for trial at the Spandau prison. A hanged person tends to jerk around and "dance" if the death is caused by strangulation (and not a snap) they say.

Sound Garden is named after an acoustic sculpture display in the Seattle area.

Anybody able to read this should know where The Doors got their name. I think I've heard or read that story more than any other band name origin.

Post more of these, please.
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Supposedly Led Zepplin got their name because when someone they knew heard they were staring band they said "That will go over like a lead balloon". I could never verify this though.
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Pearl Jam claimed their name came from Vedder's Aunt's special something or other in a jar. In fact the name Pearl Jam is believed to simply mean a "circle jerk" which I recall the band mentioning in a more discrete zine back in the early 90's.

Also Barbarella is one of the great science fiction movies.

Also also, I completely am onside with the Porno For Pyros/LA Riots theory - when that was going on it seemed like a no-brainer though the younger readers may not reflect on it that way. Great post.
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The Doors might have taken their name from Aldous Huxley's "The Doors of Perception," but Huxley took his title directly from William Blake.

Also, the band 10cc (best known for the song "I'm Not In Love") got its name because that is 1 cc more than the average male ejaculation.
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In his song "Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah" comedic recording artist Alan Sherman named one of the boys at camp "Leonard Skinner". This was 10, maybe 15 years before the band took the name. I think this may be the origin of the band's name.
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Re: Led Zep. True story. The person who gave them the name was none other than Keith Moon.

Re: The Eels. Essentially true, but the Eels are a full band, not just Mark Oliver Everett, even though he is the mastermind behind it.
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Supposedly Led Zepplin got their name because when someone they knew heard they were staring band they said “That will go over like a lead balloon”. I could never verify this though

keith moon the drummer from the who said that
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"Dancing the Spandau Ballet" was WWII British soldiers slang for the dancing of soldiers mown down by the German Spandau machine gun (1200 rounds per minute) - the fastest machine gun of the time
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