What's In A Name? The Origins Of 10 Famous Band Names

June 14, 2016

Coming up with a band name is a big deal. Many band members sit around for hours tossing ideas around before settling on the one that could make them a household name. The band's name isn't just for what a group of musicians call themselves, it's a representation of their music.

Below are the origin stories behind the names of 10 famous bands throughout the ages.

1. The Rolling Stones

The Rolling Stones acquired their name more out of a rush than through some brainstorming sessions between members. When original guitarist Brian Jones was doing an interview over the phone for Jazz News, he was asked what the name of his band was. On the floor was a Muddy Waters LP and Jones noticed the track "Rollin' Stone" on the case. They stuck with that name since, except modifying it to The Rolling Stones.

2. Led Zeppelin

Back when Jimmy Page and fellow guitarist Jeff Back thought about started their own band in the 1970s, Keith Moon and John Entwistle would tease them saying that their new band would go down faster than a "lead balloon." Page was inspired by the concept and replaced "balloon" with "zeppelin" and dropped the "a" from "lead" under the idea that promoters would pronounce them as "Leed Zeppelin" instead of "Led Zeppelin."

3. Guns N' Roses

"The World's Most Dangerous Band" aka Guns N' Roses has returned with its core members Axl RoseSlash and Duff McKagan rock the stage together again. But how GN'R was first conceived happened back in the '80s when Hollywood Rose featuring Axl and guitarist Izzy Stradlin and the L.A. Guns did a show together and since joined forces as well as names to form Guns N' Roses.

4. Nirvana

They were the #1 grunge trio than managed to dethrone Michael Jackson off of the music charts during the '90s. And with a life expectancy of only six years and three albums under its belt, Nirvana managed to prove itself as one of the greatest bands to hit the airwaves in such a short amount of time. With some of its past names like Ted Ed Fred and Pen Cap Chew, frontman Kurt Cobain went with "Nirvana" because "I wanted a name that was kind of beautiful or nice and pretty instead of a mean, raunchy punk name like the Angry Samoans."


Whether it's the makeup, the costumes, the platform boots, the pyrotechnics, or Gene Simmons' freakishly long tongue, KISS established itself as truly one of the largest bands with a loyal cult following in the '70s. When its original four members were driving to New York City, they were just another wannabe band hoping to make it big. 

Paul Stanley recalled saying how he used to be in a band called LIPS, to which he suggested "How about KISS?" They went with that name because Stanley said that it "just sounded dangerous and sexy at the same time," not as an anagram for "Knights In Satan's Service" by many concerned parents at the time.

6. AC/DC

Oringally formed by brothers Angus and Malcom Young in 1973, how did one of the greatest rock bands ever manage to settle on only four letters for their band's name? Sewing Machines.

Their sister Margaret Young noticed the initials AC/DC, which refers to "alternative current/direct current", on a sewing machine, Angus and Malcom seized the opportunity to assign a name to themselves that represented their "high energy" performances. The lightning bold seen in their logo is also evident of this fact.

7. Pink Floyd

So who is Floyd and why is he pink? 

That wasn't the actual question that inspired the band formerly named "Tea Set." The progressive rockers were in a bit of a pickle when they found themselves on the bill with another band that had the very same name. Vocalist Syd Barret decided to rename their band as The Pink Floyd Sound, and then later to Pink Floyd after naming it after two blues musicians, Pink Anderson and Floyd Collin.

8. Motley Crue

If the guys from Motley Crue didn't fully the '80s glam metal genre harder than anyone else, than nobody did. Guitarist Mick Mars remembered an incident that took place back when he was in a band called White Horse, where one of his former bandmates called them "a motley looking crew." From that moment in time, they settled on naming themselves Motley Crue.

9. Linkin Park

Before they were known as Linkin Park, frontman Chester Bennington and company would go by monikers like Xero and Hybrid Theroy. But they were in need of a new band name after copyright issues began popping up. Bennington suggested they called themselves Lincoln Park after the park he would drive by on his way to band practice in Santa Monica, CA. The change in spelling however was due to the fact that the domain name www.lincolnpark.com was very expensive. So they changed the spelling of "Lincoln" to "Linkin" in order to get their website up and running.

10. Lynyrd Skynyrd

Best known for their songs like "Sweet Home Alabama" and "Free Bird." why are there so many "y's" in Lynyrd Skynyrd? Back when they were attending Robert E. Lee High School, vocalist Ronnie Van Zant and guitarists Gary Rossington and Allen Collins had a gym teacher named Leonard Skinner, who was vehemently against boys having long hair.

Van Zant decided to poke fun at Skinner's uptight attitude by naming his band Lynyrd Skynyrd after dropping out of school for being repeatedly told by Skinner to cut his hair.

(source: Frusanes)