Top 10 Bands with the Most Interesting Band Name Etymologies

Band Name Etymology is how the bands got their names, how they came up with their names.
The Top Ten
1 Barenaked Ladies Barenaked Ladies is a Canadian rock band. The band is currently composed of Jim Creeggan, Kevin Hearn, Ed Robertson, and Tyler Stewart.

Two friends and aspiring musicians, Steven Page and Ed Robertson, were bored at a Bob Dylan concert and entertained each other by inventing fictional band names, one of which was Barenaked Ladies.

Ed had a band that was supposed to perform in a battle of the bands, but his band broke up, and he forgot about the gig. A week before the show, he received a call asking to confirm the gig. He improvised that the band name had changed to "Barenaked Ladies," recalling it from the Dylan concert. He then called Steven and asked if he wanted to do the gig. Steven agreed but couldn't believe Ed had given that name.

To prepare for the gig, they scheduled three rehearsals but missed them all. Nevertheless, the two played the show. Instead of competing, they performed while the other bands set up, playing every song they both knew. Surprisingly, the show went well, and they continued as Barenaked Ladies and invited more musicians.

2 Led Zeppelin Led Zeppelin was an English hard rock band formed in London in 1968 as the New Yardbirds. The group consisted of Robert Plant (Vocal), Jimmy Page (Guitar), John Paul Jones (Bass, Keyboard) and John Bonham (Drums) and was very much the child of Jimmy Page who even financed their first tour. He had tasted... read more

Led Zeppelin refers to the Hindenburg disaster and originated from a joke made by Keith Moon and John Entwistle, members of The Who. The two were discussing the idea of forming a supergroup containing themselves, Jimmy Page, and Jeff Beck.

Moon and Entwistle thought such a band would go down like a "lead balloon" (a British idiom for disastrous results). The name was intentionally misspelled to ensure correct pronunciation by announcers.

3 AC/DC AC/DC are a Australian hard rock band, formed in November 1973 by brothers Malcolm and Angus Young, who continued as members until Malcolm's illness and departure in 2014 . They were fronted by Bon Scott until his untimely death due to alcohol poisoning in 1979, after which they hired Brian Johnson... read more

Malcolm and Angus Young's sister saw "AC/DC" on an electric sewing machine and said, "Why not AC/DC?"

4 311

311 is the police code for indecent exposure in Omaha, Nebraska. One day, bassist P-Nut and some friends went skinny dipping in a public pool. The police arrested one of the friends, Jim Watson. He was cuffed (naked) and taken home to his parents. The band found the incident amusing, so they based their name on it.

5 Dire Straits Dire Straits were a British rock band formed in 1977 by Mark Knopfler, his younger brother David Knopfler, John Illsley, and Pick Withers.

The name comes from the band's financial situation at the time of forming.

6 R.E.M. R.E.M. was an American alternative rock band from Athens, Georgia, formed in 1980 by lead singer Michael Stipe, lead guitarist Peter Buck, bassist/backing vocalist Mike Mills, and drummer Bill Berry.
7 Megadeth Megadeth is an American thrash metal band from Los Angeles, California. Megadeth was formed in 1983 by guitarist Dave Mustaine and bassist David Ellefson, shortly after Mustaine was fired from Metallica. They have released 15 studio albums to date, and have gone through many lineup changes, with Dave... read more

Dave Mustaine got kicked out of Metallica and was traveling on a bus. To pass the time, he started writing lyrics on the back of a handbill. The handbill itself quoted, "The arsenal of megadeath can't be rid, no matter what the peace treaties come to."

This inspired him to use Megadeath as his band name, but he dropped the "A" in "Death."

Fun fact: One of the former band names for Pink Floyd was "The Meggadeaths."

8 Black Sabbath Black Sabbath were a Heavy Metal band formed in Birmingham, England in 1968 by guitarist and songwriter Tony Iommi, singer John "Ozzy" Osbourne, bassist and main lyricist Geezer Butler and drummer Bill Ward... read more

Originally, their name was Earth, but there was another group with the same name, so they had to change it. One day, they saw a cinema playing a film titled Black Sabbath. They couldn't believe people paid money to be frightened, but decided to use Black Sabbath as their new name.

9 Drummer
10 Green Day Green Day are an American pop punk/punk rock band formed in East Bay, California in 1987. The members include Billie Joe Armstrong (vocals and guitar), Mike Dirnt (bass), Tré Cool (drums) and Jason White (guitar). Green Day are associated with punk rock, pop punk and alternative rock. Some of their... read more

Originally, they were "Sweet Children" until Billie Joe Armstrong wrote a song called "Green Day." "Green day" is slang for spending a day smoking marijuana, and the song was about Joe's first experience with the drug.

The Contenders
11 The Smiths The Smiths were an English rock band formed in Manchester in 1982. The band consisted of vocalist Morrissey, guitarist Johnny Marr, bassist Andy Rourke and drummer Mike Joyce.
12 Architecture in Helsinki

Lead singer Cameron Bird came up with this name by cutting up words out of a newspaper and rearranging them on a table until something jumped out at him.

13 Jets to Brazil

Rumor has it that drummer Chris Daly saw it on a poster in the Audrey Hepburn film Breakfast at Tiffany's.

14 The Rolling Stones The Rolling Stones are an English rock band formed in London in 1962. The first settled line-up consisted of Brian Jones (guitar, harmonica), Ian Stewart (piano), Mick Jagger (lead vocals, harmonica), Keith Richards (guitar), Bill Wyman (bass) and Charlie Watts (drums)... read more

When Brian Jones was on the phone with Jazz News magazine, the man on the phone asked for the band's name. Brian realized they didn't have one, so he looked around the room for inspiration and saw a Muddy Waters LP on the floor. One of the songs was "Rollin' Stone," so he told the guy they were the Rollin' Stones (the "g" was added soon after).

I have always found it interesting that something originally meant as a placeholder ended up sticking in public consciousness and becoming one of the most recognizable band names.

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