Band Name Origins

Over the years, the music industry has had to endure a diverse range of bizarrely-named acts, and the archives of Rock and Roll are practically bursting at the seams with band names that were clearly considered at another level when group identities were chosen. As weird as some band names may initially seem, there is usually a simple explanation behind them. However, there are some band names that cannot be clearly defined, and these have become the source of much debate amongst music industry aficionados.

Led Zeppelin

Keith Moon and John Entwistle, original members of The Who, were complaining about their band mates, Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend, over a few drinks with Jimmy Paige. A light-hearted remark was made about Moon and Entwistle joining up with Paige to start a supergroup and Moon is alleged to have commented that any such action would “go down like a lead balloon”.

The phrase stayed with Paige after The Yardbirds split in 1968 and a new band name was needed. “Balloon” was subsequently exchanged for “Zepellin” to exaggerate the humour of the expression. The word “Lead” was allegedly shortened to “Led” to stop Americans mispronouncing it.

Joy Division

The iconic British band has enjoyed a recent resurgence in popularity following the well-received biopic about their lead singer, Ian Curtis. The group derived their seemingly happy band name from more sinister origins. The phrase “Joy Division” actually referred to a prostitution unit that served high-ranking officers in the times of Nazi Germany. The Joy Division unit was referred to at length in the 1955 novel, The House of Dolls.

Limp Bizkit

Ignore the strange spelling, and the origins of Limp Bizkit couldn’t be more simple. Band member Fred Durst owned a dog that continually walked with a limp, and the endearing trait was soon noticed by the other band members. Unsurprisingly, Durst had named the dog “Biscuit”, and a band name was instantly born.

Garbage

There are two rumours that consistently materialise whenever Garbage and the origins of their band name are mentioned, but both stories are essentially the same. It is alleged that Shirley Manson’s father had enough of his lead singing daughter and her friends practicing at his home, and told them to play their instruments quietly because “they sounded like garbage”. A similar story circulates that the comment actually came from a friend of the band’s drummer, Butch Vig.

Heaven 17

As much as the band name accurately reflects the New Romantic era, the origins of the Heaven 17 title are actually rooted in literature. William Burgess, the author of A Clockwork Orange, referred to a fictional band called “The Heavenly 17” when the lead character, Alex DeLarge, was looking through new albums in a futuristic record boutique.

UB40

The band name actually represents the number of a form that had to be filled out in the United Kingdom to claim unemployment benefits during the late 1970’s. At the time UB40 were formed, unemployment in the UK had reached unprecedented levels and the group members felt that the band name gave an accurate portrayal of Thatcher’s Britain.

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