12 band names with the most bizarre backstories
From legends like Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd to ultra-obscure bands like !!!, these bizarre backstories behind the bands' names will leave you dazed and confused!
Yes, there is an actual band called !!!. With a name like that, you don’t even know how to pronounce it. Is it three-exclamatory-marks? Is it exclamation-exclamation-exclamation!? Well thankfully, the band clears up the issue for us. The bandmembers themselves say that !!! is pronounced as "Chk Chk Chk”.
The band gets its name from the subtitles of The Gods Must Be Crazy in which the clicking sounds made by the Bushmen is transcribed as an exclamatory mark (!) in the subtitles.
Interestingly, this makes the name of the band one of the rare Google search results to produce absolutely no results! But rest assured, they do exist and they play some really intense, up-beat dance music! Their 2017 album is called Shake the Shudder and it's making some vibes in the indie circles.
2. Steely Dan
Rolling Stone magazine has called Steely Dan "the perfect musical antiheroes for the seventies". The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees have a weird backstory to their name. The band takes its name from a sex toy! The inspiration comes from "Steely Dan III from Yokohama", a steam-powered, oversized dildo mentioned in the beat generation novel Naked Lunch by William S Burroughs.
"We had to come up with a name in a hurry and Walter and I were both Burroughs fans, though he was not known at the time. It was an in-joke — who's going to know what Steely Dan was? And we figured that, like most of our bands in the past, it would fall apart after three months, so we didn't think much about it" said Donald Fagen, frontman of Steely Dan, in an interview with Mojo magazine.
3. Led Zeppelin
Aptly monikered as 'the heaviest band of all time", Led Zeppelin gets its name from an intereting story that has much to do with heaviness and sinking! The story goes that Jimmy Page, after quitting his previous band The Yarbirds, wanted to start a supergroup with Jeff Beck, his bandmate from The Yardbirds, Keith Moon and John Entwhistle from The Who. Keith Moon, who was amused with this idea, purportedly said that if the group were formed, it would go down like a 'lead balloon'.
The band dropped the 'a' from lead to prevent people from mispronouncing the name and changed balloon to 'zeppelin', a word which, in the words of rock journalist Keith Shadwick, brought "the perfect combination of heavy and light, combustibility and grace" to Jimmy Page's mind. The 'zeppelin' was also a reference to the Hindenburg disaster of 1937, when a German airship caught fire and caused the death of several people.
In a sense, Jimmy Page took Keith Moon's criticism and used the insult as a challenge, to form the name of a band that is today arguably better known than The Who.
4. Daft Punk
Speaking of bands that made their critics swallow their words whole, Daft Punk follows neatly in Led Zep's footsteps. Way back in 1992, before Daft Punk was the larger than life robot-duo of futuristic Electronic music, the duo performed under the name Darlin', which was a single by The Beach Boys, a big influence of the band.
Their music received a negative review in the UK's Melody Maker magazine which described their effort as "a daft punky thrash". The duo, instead of getting down in the dumps, used the moniker for their next act with some furious retribution and the rest, of course, is glorious disco-lazer-blasted history!
5. Limp Bizkit
Frontman Fred Durst wanted to name his band something that would repel listeners! Counter-productive right? He went through a whole list of options—Gimp Disco, Split Dickslit, Bitch Piglet, and Blood Fart—before finally settling on Limp Bizkit, a euphemism for a flaccid penis!
According to Durst, "The name is there to turn people's heads away. A lot of people pick up the disc and go, 'Limp Bizkit. Oh, they must suck.' Those are the people that we don't even want listening to our music." Somehow, miraculously, the name did the exact opposite of that! The band made plenty of vibes in the underground scene of the '90s and soon they shot to global fame.
6. Pink Floyd
While previously performing under the name Tea Set, the band was about to take stage one night in the mid 60s only to realize that the band that just played before them was also called Tea Set!
A young Sid Barret quickly looked around and found the names of two Blues musicians, 'Pinky' Pink Anderson and Floyd Council on the liner notes of a random album and said, "Tonight, we are the Pink Floyd Sound'.
Soon, they dropped the 'the' and became just Pink Floyd, and the rest, of course, is Rock music history!
7. Alt J
The funny thing about Alt-J is that their name isn't Alt-J at all. It's actually a symbol. This symbol: ∆
In a possible tip-of-the-hat to the artist formerly known as Prince, who also changed his name to something called the 'Love Symbol', the band named itself the upper case Latin symbol Delta!
The symbol can also be created by holding down the "alt" and "J" keys on a keyboard while using a Mac. Get it? In the band's bio, guitarist-bassist Gwil Sainsbury says, "In mathematical equations it's used to show change." Fans of the band often make a triangle with their hands at the concert.
8. Creedence Clearwater Revival
Before CCR was CCR, they used to be called the Golliwogs! All that changed in 1967, before the band recorded and released their their first album. The owner of Fantasy Records, under whom the band was signed did not like the name Golliwogs. So he asked the band to come up with ten suggestions each. But the very first one had him hook-line-and sinker.
The band borrowed each element of their three-part-name from three different sources and just stitched it up together! 'Creedence' is a wordplay on the frontman Tom Fogerty's friend Credence Newball. The word 'Clearwater' was borrowed from a TV ad for Olympia Beer! 'Revival' referred to the band's rebirth under a new name. Some of the rejected options included Muddy Rabbit, Gossamer Wump, and Creedence Nuball and the Ruby!
9. Childish Gambino
Donald Glover is the underdog Renaissance-man of this decade. The 'Community' star is an actor, a writer, a producer, a director, a stand-up-comedian and now he's nominated for a Grammy! But when he raps, sings and dances on stage, he performs under the name 'Childish Gambino'. Why Childish Gambino? The reason is so mundane, that it makes it interesting!
Glover got the name from a Wu-Tang Clan random name generator of all things. In his own words: "We were all hanging out, chilling and drinking and then we were like, 'oh, Wu-Tang name generator, let’s put our name in.' And we’re putting them all in, and they’re all funny and stuff, and then mine came up and I was like, ‘you guys, it’s not funny anymore. This is something big.’ I just really liked it.”
10. Children of Bodom
Much before Children of Bodom gathered a fan base of worshippers who called themselves the 'Hate Crew', when they just started out, they used to be called Inearthed. When the record label asked them to change their name, they went through a telephone directory for inspiration and came across a listing for 'Lake Bodom'. As the site of an infamous unsolved triple murder case that claimed the lives of three teenagers, Lake Bodom was already a famous name in Finland. The band immediately agreed that it was an impactful name and after playing around with a few options, settled on Children of Bodom.
Many of Children of Bodom's songs also directly reference the Lake Bodom Murders, many with lyrics written around the events of the murder. "Lake Bodom", "Silent Night, Bodom Night", "Children of Bodom" and "Bodom After Midnight" are some of the songs which reference the murders.
Joel Zimmerman, who performs under the stage-name of Deadmau5, used to be a programmer before he turned to producing music full-time. One day, while he was conversing with a friend online, his computer suddenly went kaput! Noticing a faint smell of burning wire and a strange odor coming from the computer, he dismantled it only to find a dead mouse inside!
Guess inspiration can come from the strangest of place! He soon came to be know as 'the dead mouse guy' by friends. One day, while registering on an online chat forum, he tried to enter his name as Deadmouse but the name was too long so he just shortened it to Deadmau5 and stylized it with a number at the end!
The year was 1968 and the epic prog-rock band we now know as Rush was just a bunch of Canadian high-school kids calling themselves The Projection, jamming out of basements. Just moments before their first gig, the brother of the original drummer John Rutsey said, "You need a better name for the band – how about Rush?"
So in their hurry, they just decided to rush with the name and the rest of course, is history!
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