You see their name on T-shirts, albums, and posters, but do you know how some of music’s biggest names actually got their name? There’s a story behind many of the industry’s popular acts.
BANDS AND ARTISTS INSPIRED BY OTHER BANDS AND MUSIC
Sometimes musicians find their name’s inspiration in songs or artists they admire. English rock band Pink Floyd needed a name in a hurry in 1965. The band were known by a variety of names such as Sigma 6, The Tea Set and the Spectrum Five. When they were set to perform as then-The Tea Set at a gig, they discovered there were was another band called The Tea Set. Syd Barrett picked the name Pink Floyd Sound out of thin air using two musicians from his collection: Pink Anderson and Floyd Council.
Despite the rumor Panic at the Disco! took their name from the song “Panic” by The Smiths, the truth is actually a lesser-known band inspired. The alternative band Panic at the Disco! Took their name from another artist’s work. The song “Panic” by the band Name Taken contains the lyric “Panic at the disco/Sat back and took it so slow.”
The English pop-rock band The Kooks were inspired by a certain glam rocker for their band name. The band formed in 2002 and took their name from the song, “Kooks” by David Bowie.
The Moody Blues are unlike others on this list, as they weren’t inspired by fellow pop artists or rockers. Instead the group took their moniker from the jazz standard “Mood Indigo” by Duke Ellington.
Walk the Moon, known mainly for their blockbuster song “Shut Up and Dance,” have cited their musical influences The Police with the source of their name. The song “Walking on the Moon” gave WTM their name.
Even Lady Gaga was inspired by another musician, taking the name “Lady Gaga” from Queen’s song “Radio Gaga.”
Death Cab for Cutie has a name that’s quite obscure to most music lovers. The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band song “Death Cab for Cutie” inspired the band band, but that’s the whole story. That song was in turn inspired by a fictional pulp fiction crime magazine from the 1957 book The Uses of Literacy.
It’s not just rock bands that are inspired by musicians either. Country group Nickel Creek came from renowned fiddler player’s Byron Berline song “Nickel Creek.” Berline was group member Sara Watkins’ fiddle teacher.
American rockers Spoon named themselves after a German avant-garde band, Can, who had a song “Spoon” in the movie Jagged Edge in 1985.
The origin of The Beatles’ name is quite a story. The band played under eight different names and were finally inspired by Buddy Holly and the Crickets. The Beatles decided to have an insect-themed name on a “hilarious rain-soaked brainstorming session,” according to Cynthia Lennon. They came up with Beetles, then changed it to Beatles for a play on the word “beat,” as well as the fact Beatles backwards is les beat.
MUSICIANS INSPIRED BY LITERATURE AND OTHER MEDIA
Literature, whether it be a play, children’s book, or novel can be transformative in so many ways — many times literature has inspired band or artist names. Here are just a few you may not know.
You’ve heard the song “Heathens” or “Stressed” by Twenty One Pilots, but the origin of the band’s name is way more cerebral than you’d think. The lead singer Tyler Joseph found the name while studying the Arthur Miller play All My Sons, which features the death of 21 pilots.
Coldplay was originally known as a band called Starfish, but took the name from another band called Coldplay, who had found it in a book of poems, Child’s Reflection: Cold Play.
A French-language children’s book called Belle et Sebastien inspired the name of the band Belle and Sebastian. The book would go on to be a popular television series, movie and anime.
Modest Mouse’s lead singer Isaac Brock plucked the band’s name out of a novel when he was just 15. He was reading The Mark on the Wall by Virginia Woolf and found a passage that read: “I wish I could hit upon a pleasant track of thought, a track indirectly reflecting credit upon myself, for those are the pleasantest thoughts, and very frequent even in the minds of modest mouse-coloured people, who believe genuinely that they dislike to hear their own praises.”
It was a trippy author, Aldous Huxley, who inspired the name of The Doors. The name comes from the Huxley novel The Doors of Perception, which was named from a poet by William Blake.
The Airborne Toxic Event seems like a series of random words, but the band name actually comes from the novel White Noise by Don Delillo which calls a toxic cloud an “airborne toxic event.”