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?

ABBA

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’.

Coldplay

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.

Oasis

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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