What Does Your Band Name Say About You?

The world of popular music has spawned thousands of fascinating band names over the years and many identity choices have a peculiar habit of leaving subconscious imagery on the minds of the fans and the music industry itself. From the birth of Rock and Roll, all the way through to the modern dance music and rave scene, a carefully selected band name can say more about your act than you could probably ever imagine.

‘The’ Bands

There is something almost nostalgic about band names that begin with ‘The’, and even modern chart acts use these particular titles to great effect. Much of that effect is owed to the 1960s when bands traditionally opted for a name that epitomised simplicity, directness and unity. The Beatles, The Small Faces and The Who are all bands that were born during the most formative years of popular music and upon hearing their names, a certain imagery of those times is still formed.

Today, there are still many band names that echo the simplistic overtures of their predecessors. When we hear about The Rifles, The Courteeners and The Verve, for example, we immediately recall bands from earlier years who thrived on their encompassing titles. It’s arguably no coincidence that many modern bands who use ‘The’ in their band name have a definitive sixties influence in their music.

Creative Band Names

Some band names embrace creativity and their members often take a simple word from the English language and reproduce it in a different form. This makes the name stand out somewhat and if the music buying public can relate to it, it usually means that the band will stand out as well.

Misspelling is a popular tactic that gives a band name genuine creativity and it should comes as no surprise that many advocates of this particular trend also produce music that is just as inspiring. Lynyrd Skynyrd, a creative slant on the name of Leonard Skinner (a gym teacher at the school several of the band members attended) where one of the earliest bands to cash in on this particular idea. Limp Bizkit, The Black Crowes and Korn also added an alternative edge to their band names in order to stand out from the crowd.

The One-Word Band Name

Band names that consist of just one word are easier to remember but many artists have combined two separate words to create a single new one. Motorhead, Toploader and Megadeth have all used this particular tactic to great effect and have unconsciously added new words to our vocabulary in the process.

Dance acts are particularly abundant in the world of one-word band names and much of this trend was born from the use of similar titles used by illegal sound systems during the Acid House days of the late 1980s. Today, Orbital (considered to be a reference to the location of illegal raves around the London orbital motorway in the UK during the days of Acid House) and Faithless are amongst the biggest one-word dance acts in the world.

Band Name Etymology

Although the true test of any musical artist is the material that they record, some fans can be swept away by a highly creative band name that sticks in the mind even before a single or album has been heard. Who are your favourite bands, and how did they come up with their original band names?


Although the word ‘Abba’ is listed in the Holy Bible, there is no truth whatsoever in the story that the band name arose through religious origins. In fact, ‘Abba’ is nothing more than a palindrome created from the first names of each band member (Agnetha, Bjorn, Benny and Anni-Frid).

The Beautiful South

Originally created by former members of The Housemartins, the band name of The Beautiful south is a somewhat ironic representation of their distaste for the wealthier classes in Southern England. Band member Paul Heaton also liked the name because it would force grown men to use the word ‘beautiful’.


The cool-sounding band name was actually liberated from another set of artists. Chris Martin and the rest of the band members originally worked under the name of ‘Starfish’ while ‘Coldplay’ was being used by a set of friends who were also trying to break into the music industry. The original Coldplay decided to call it a day and Starfish adopted it for themselves. The band name originally comes from a book of collected poetry.

Green Day

The ageing post-punk rockers who formerly played under the band name of ‘Sweet Children’ adopted the Green Day tag after Billie Joe Armstrong used marijuana for the first time. A ‘green day’ refers to an entire day spent smoking the herbal leaves of the cannabis plant.


The recently split Manchester band was originally fronted by Chris Hutton. Unhappy with Hutton’s musical talents, guitarist Paul Arthurs auditioned Liam Gallagher as a replacement. The Oasis band name was borne after Liam noticed that The Inspiral Carpets, one of his biggest influences, were playing at the Oasis Leisure Centre in Swindon during a forthcoming tour.

The Pogues

The rowdy Irishmen are well renowned for their formative folk-rock style but their band name was generated from the popular Irish insult, póg mo thóin (pogue mahone), which translates as ‘kiss my ass’. The band name was shortened to ‘The Pogues’ after a mass of complaints were received by the BBC after a typically riotous band performance on the mainstream TV channel.

The Ramones

Although the band name of The Ramones is claimed be the product of surnames of various band members, the title was actually born from the false name that Paul McCartney used when checking into hotels while The Beatles were a global musical phenomenon. McCartney used the name of Paul Ramon for several years during the 1960s.

The Who

There are many different rumours regarding the origins of The Who, but the most likely explanation of how The High Numbers gained their more famous band name stems from the poor hearing that guitarist Pete Townsend’s grandmother suffered from. Whenever Townsend mentioned bands to her, she would often mishear him and say “The Who?”

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