BAND NAMES ORIGINS BLOG Thursday 31st March 2022


Listening to music from a band you loved can have a magical quality to it. The association of the song can be so strong sometimes that even just seeing the band’s name or logo can instantly transport you to a simpler time when you were blasting their tunes in a car or cheering with thousands of others, demanding an encore.

The names of these famous bands are now iconic, cemented in music history, but these groups didn’t always go by the moniker we know them by today. While they certainly have become household names, it makes you wonder if these artists would have been as popular if they stuck with their original name choices. Check out how the some of music’s most historic groups came up with their name…

  1. The Rolling Stones

The band that would become one of the most famous rock musicians in music history ended up rubbing elbows with music icon Muddy Waters in 1981. They met him at the Checkerboard Lounge, a famous Chicago blues.

Little did the group know how much their lives would change after this meeting. Upon hearing Waters’ 1950 blues tune “Rollin Stone,” they knew this was the name they would go by forever.

  1. The Doors

The name that Jim Morrison and The Doors settled on for their historic group has more of a deeper meaning than some of the other names on this list.  The moniker “The Doors” was actually a nod to a few literature references.

Taking inspiration from an 18th-century post-French Revolution text by William Blake called The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, author Aldous Huxley named a book. The Doors Of Perception. Jim Morrison and his cohorts loved the profundity of the references and settled on it.

  1. Red Hot Chili Peppers

What started as a flight of fancy by high school friends Anthony Keidis, Flea, Hillel Slovak, and Jack Irons has turned out to be a solid business venture for all. They say that it was related to old-school Jazz band names like Louis Armstrong’s Hot Five and other bands that had “Red Hot” in it.

The group originally started as Tony Flow and the Miraculously Majestic Masters of Mayhem. By comparison, the name Red Hot Chili Peppers isn’t very long, and seemed to be much more marketable.

  1. Heart

In the early ’70s, Ann Wilson found herself singing lead for a band called White Heart. Once Wilson became a member, the group decided to call themselves Hocus Pocus.

After Ann met and fell in love with bandmate, Roger Fisher’s brother, Mike, the pair joined Roger and bassist Steve Fossen to regroup. For some reason, the “white” was taken away, and there was the first iteration of Heart.

  1. Motley Crue

The founder and bassist of Motley Crue, Nikki Sixx thought about calling his new group “Christmas,” but naturally, the other members of the band despised it.  The final name came through a brainstorming session.

When guitarist Mick Mars had played with the group “White Horse” he referred to thems as “a motley looking crew.” He then wrote the name down as “Mottley Cru.” Eventually they adjusted it to be Motley Crue, with the two umlauts being inspired by a German beer called “Lowenbrau.”

  1. Coldplay

Coldplay didn’t always start with a recognizable name as smooth as their current one. Band members Chris Martin and Johnny Buckland first met at University College London and started going by Pectoralz, and then later were known as Starfish.

When that name didn’t yield them the exposure they were looking for, a friend of theirs was in a band called “Coldplay,” which was originally coined from a book of poems called Child’s Reflections: Cold Play. Once the friend’s band had no interest in continuing their group, Starfish was renamed “Coldplay.”

  1. Pearl Jam

This Seattle-based rock band consists of a fab five–Eddie Vedder, Mike McCready, Stone, Gossard, Jeff Ament, and Matt Cameron. They originally called their band “Mookie Blaylock” after an NBA player, but they changed it after trademark issues.

Frontman Eddie Vedder has said that the name “Pearl Jam” was a tribute to his great-grandmother Pearl Brunner. Though, guitarist Mike McCready has said that Jeff Ament developed “Pearl” and that “Jam” was tacked on after seeing a Neil Young and Crazy Horse concert, during which they were “jamming.”

  1. Led Zeppelin

A collaboration between Keith Moon and John Entwistle, members of The Who, with Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones helped make music history. They had joined together on a song from Jeff Beck called “Beck’s Bolero,” in 1966 and started the conversation about creating a new group.

When Jones, John Bonham, and Robert Plant decided to make a band in 1968, Jimmy Page remembered a joke that Moon or Entwistle had said “that it would go over like a lead balloon.” And thus Led Zeppelin was born.

  1. Metallica

Metallica was actually just a throwaway name that Lars Ulrich’s friend was thinking of for a rock metal fanzine (a magazine published by fans) he was starting. Another option for the magazine name was MetalMania.

When Ulrich found out his friend wasn’t going to use the name Metallica for his publication, he immediately snatched it. There is a 1982 compilation album called Metal Massacre I that actually lists the band as “Mettalica,” which is an incorrect spelling.

  1. Jefferson Airplane/ Starship

In the 1960s, the San Francisco music scene was known for some names that could sound a bit over-the-top. The counterculture movement inspired bands with a lot of interesting names, some of which were Moby Grape or Quicksilver Messenger Service.

A group called Blind Lemon Jefferson Airplane was not as strange as it might be today. They named it after blues artist Blind Lemon Jefferson, but later decided to shorten it to Jefferson Airplane. In a reinvented version of the group, they shortened it to Jefferson Starship, thanks to Paul Kantner’s sci-fi obsession.

  1. Nirvana

Despite just a short stint in the limelight, Nirvana helped define the punk rock music scene of the early ’90s.  Frontman and lead vocalist, Kurt Cobain was a visionary in musical style before his tragic passing in 1994.

While Nirvana is part of music history, they played under many different names before that one, some of which included “Throat Oyster,” “Skid Row,” and “Ted, Ed, and Fred.” Cobain chose the Buddhist term “nirvana,” which means the release from a cycle of rebirth and suffering, and told it to his bandmates about how it means “attaining perfection.”

  1. Bee Gees

The Bee Gees are known as one of the longest-running acts in music history, forming in 1958 and playing until their official retirement in 2012. Like Fleetwood Mac and a few others, their name isn’t too big of a mystery.

While most have speculated that the B and G stood for the Brothers Gibb, it’s actually a misnomer. The real story is that it is a tribute to three people with those initials, oldest brother Barry Gibb, radio DJ Bill Gates, and their friend speedway promoter and driver, Bill Goode. The “Brothers Gibb” aspect is purely coincidental.

  1. Eagles

Diehard fans of the group will make sure that you call this band “Eagles” and not “The Eagles.” Friend and comedian Steve Martin said it should be “The Eagles,” but Glen Frey insisted on omitting the “the.”

The name is usually credited with Bernie Leadon when he was under the influence while in the Mojave Desert. He remembered reading about the Hopi’s tribe respect for the animal. J.D. Souther said the name was decided when Frey exclaimed “eagles” when they saw them in the desert.

  1. Guns N’ Roses

Izzy Stradlin was part of Hollywood Rose and was roommates with member of the band L.A. Guns Tracii Guns. When L.A. Guns found themselves without a lead singer, Axl Rose stepped in, along with Ole Beich and Bob Gardner.

The merged group realized that the name that noted a combination of the two separate bands was a good idea. Guns N’ Roses proved to be a much more successful name than some of the possible alternative options, such as Heads Of Amazon and AIDS.

  1. Alice Cooper

Alice Cooper the singer was actually born Vincent Damon Furnier, and he had formed a band with his cross-country teammates from high school in 1964. They were originally known as The Earwigs, and did many parodies of Beatles’ songs.

They eventually renamed their band The Spiders, and then later again into Nazz in 1967. By the next year, that name Nazz had been nabbed up by Todd Rundgren. They settled on “Alice Cooper” because it sounded wholesome and innocuous, a stark contrast to the band’s image and music.

  1. Aerosmith

It wasn’t until Joey Kramer partnered with Joe Perry and Steven Tyler that the trio began experimenting with combinations and crafting killer logos. Steven Tyler had been a drummer in his former band, Chain Reaction, and was adamant that he wanted to be frontman and vocalist if he were to join.

The band had apparently spent afternoons watching Three Stooges reruns. It was after one of these sessions when Joey Kramer said he would “aerosmith” on his notebooks, the name having popping into his head after Harry Nilsson’s album Aerial Ballet. Kramer convinced the others of the name after dismissing another possible name: Spike Jones.

  1. Black Sabbath

The members of  Black Sabbath, Tony Iommi, Bill Ward, Geezer Butler, and frontman Ozzy Osbourne, had a few iterations such as the name Earth, which Osbourne happened to hate. It’s likely also true that if they went with one of the original band names, which was the Polka Tulk Blues Band, they may not have gotten very far.

In 1969, Judas Priest singer Rob Halford called one of their songs “probably the most evil song ever written.” The Black Sabbath name was settled on after band members became transfixed by a 1963 spooky Boris Karloff film with the same name and aimed for to make the “music equivalent of horror films.”

  1. U2

U2 is a legendary bond, partly from the longevity of their relevance. Most people surely know the Irish rock band and their frontman and lead vocalist Bono, who started out at first in the post-punk genre, but has since evolved and reinvented themselves starting in the 1990s.

The band was formed while they were teenagers at the same school, with limited musical experience. They went by other names such as “Larry Mullen Band” and “Feedback” before learning about a famous spy plane called U-2. Bono has said that the name came from their interactions with audience members, as in “you too.”

  1. Kiss

It’s pretty likely that the name “Wicked Lester” wouldn’t resonate too well for a band that wanted to make it big. The group who became known for their members painting their faces and wearing outrageous outfits wisely decided to go by Kiss.

When determining how to pick their name, Peter Criss mentioned being in an earlier band that was called Lips. Vocalist and guitarist Paul Stanley riffed on that and picked the name “Kiss,” which ended up serving them well.

  1. Bob Dylan

Minnesota-born Bob Dylan was born under the name Robert Zimmerman. Even in high school, he had told a girlfriend that he planned on devoting a life to music under the name Bob Dillon, which he changed for stylistic reasons.

He was apparently a fan of Matt Dillon, the name of the sheriff on the classic western TV show Gunsmoke.  He would later tell people that the name was to honor his mother’s maiden name of Dillon, which wasn’t true.

  1. Elton John

Reginald Kenneth Dwight was born in Pinner, Middlesex in 1947. He went by the nickname Reggie as he gained experience performing at bars on weekend up through when he met lyricist Bernie Taupin.

The singer was looking to change his name and decided to go with “Elton John.” He chose his stage name to honor two members of his former band Bluesology, named Elton Dean and John Baldry (of ‘Let The Heartaches Begin’ fame). Contrary to what’s in the biopic Rocketman, he did not get it from friend John Lennon. 

  1. Foo Fighters

If it weren’t for the untimely death of Kurt Cobain, Foo Fighters very likely wouldn’t exist. After his passing in 1994, legendary drummer Dave Grohl tried to form a one-man band after leaving Nirvana.

He spent some contemplative downtime investigating UFO sightings. After learning that the term “foo fighters” was coined by aircraft pilots for UFOs in World War II, he knew he’d found the perfect name, and 12 Grammys were to follow.

  1. AC/DC

AC/DC frontmen Malcolm, and Angus Young have their sister Margaret to thank for the recognizable logo and name that millions have grown to know and love. The story goes that she saw the famous letters on a sewing machine, which meant the unit could be powered by alternating or direct current.

The brothers felt that the name perfectly encapsulated the band’s raw energy, power-driven performances of the music they would go on to make. You know you’ve made it when your band name completely replaces the original meaning of a term in modern lexicon.

  1. Cream

Jack Bruce, Ginger Baker, and icon Eric Clapton were huge in the late 1960s, and very much knew it. They blew up along the U.K. music scene before collaborating together. They had made it big as part of the Yardbirds and John Mayall.

Cream was a name chosen in reference to their big egos. They considered themselves the cream of the crop when it came to being part of the ’60s British blues genre.

  1. Fleetwood Mac

Fleetwood Mac was a band name that was made for practical and diplomatic reasons. Upon finding out that the bass player and drummer were disgruntled and threatening to leave the group, guitarist Peter Green threw out an olive branch to the two men.

Green’s trick of naming the band as a mashup of the names of dummer Mick Fleetwood and bassist John McVie worked pretty well. Over five decades later, the two are the only band members still part of Fleetwood Mac.

  1. The Beatles

Probably the most famous band ever, these lads from Liverpool made history, changing the music industry forever. What would the world be like if The Beatles had gone in a different direction with their name?

Paul McCartney and John Lennon were big fans of music legend, Buddy Holly. They decided to take their inspiration from Holly’s backup band, which was called The Crickets. The rest was history.

  1. Pink Floyd

Manager Syd Barrett was in a bit of a pickle for his band. After finding out that his band was using another name illegally, he had to come up with something fast.

Combining two names of two Piedmont bluesmen from an old record collection he had–Pink Anderson And Floyd Council–he came up with Pink Floyd. Suffice it to say, that name has become more famous than the original name of Tea Set.

  1. Billy Idol

Known by some as William Broad, Billy Idol yearned to remake his image and put an edge on some of his original music to become widely known.

With contemporaries like Johnny Rotten and Rat Scabies, the rocker knew he needed something catchy that would encapsulate his confidence that would also express style. Rumor has it, that he got the name from a former school teacher who used to call him “idle.”

  1. Genesis

Genesis is a group of progressive rock pioneers who wanted a unique name to help them stand out amidst the plethora of other groups in the business. Jonathan King, alumnus from Charterhouse School went to a concert at the school while the band were students. He was a record producer and became the band’s manager.

King initially wanted to honour the band’s frontman Peter Gabriel, and call the group “Gabriel’s Angels.” He kept with the Biblical theme and went with “Genesis” instead, thinking it suggested the beginning of a new sound a new feeling.”

  1. Deep Purple

This British-invasion band had been known as Roundabout before a song from the band Yes came out with that name. They decided to reinvent their brand due to waning popularity.

At the suggestion of guitarist Ritchie Blackmore’s Roundabout morphed into Deep Purple. The name came from a song that came from the Paul Whiteman band, a big-band song from the 1930s.


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TOP 30 retirement ages compared globally?

The official age of retirement is creeping upwards in most countries as governments try to manage stretched state benefits. But while many governments want us to work until we are 67, the average age that people are actually retiring is often lower than you might think. Using the most recent OECD data (unless otherwise stated), read on to see the countries where people work the longest.


  1. South Africa: 60

South Africans retire at 60, on average the government doesn’t impose an official age as such, so it’s left to employees to liaise with employers to find an ‘agreed’ age of retirement.


  1. France: 60.8

The official age of retirement is 62.


  1. Greece: 60.85

On average Greek men retire at 61.7 years old, while Greek women stop working at 60. So it’s not surprising that authorities sparked protests by raising the official retirement age to 67 in 2017, a two-year increase to the official retirement age for men and a staggering five-year rise for women. It was part of a cost-cutting drive after the country was bailed out by other European countries. Some voters elsewhere in Europe resented helping the Greek government when many of its citizens were drawing pensions in their 50s.


  1. Belgium: 61.1

Belgian men and women officially retire at 65.


  1. Poland: 61.35

Bucking the global trend, the Polish government slashed its retirement age from 67 to 65 for men and 60 for women in 2017


  1. Spain: 61.7

The official retirement age in Spain is being gradually increased from 65 to 67 by 2027.


  1. USA: 62

In America, anyone born between 1943 and 1954 can retire at 66, while those born after 1960 have to work until they are 67.


  1. Austria: 62.15

In Austria, the official pension age is 60 for women and 65 for men. The retirement age for women is set to increase to match the men’s between 2024 and 2033.


  1. Italy: 62.4

But officially Italian men can retire at 66 years and seven months and women a year earlier.


  1. Germany: 63.5

The retirement age is 65 for people born before 1947, 67 for anyone born after 1964 and somewhere in the middle on a rising scale for people born in between.


  1. Denmark: 63.8

The official age Danish men and women can retire is 65, but this is due to gradually increase to 67 by 2022, and 68 by 2030. The Danish pension system is the world’s best, along with the Netherlands, according to Mercer’s Global Pension Index.


  1. Netherlands: 63.85

Men and women in the Netherlands can currently give up work at 66 years and four months, but the real average age Dutch people leave work is lower at 63.85 years old (65.2 years for men, and 62.5 for women). Despite this, the government is set to gradually increase the government retirement age to 67 by 2024.


  1. Finland: 63.85

Finnish men and women are encouraged to draw their pension from just after their 65th birthday, but there are big financial incentives to retire as late as 68.


  1. UK: 64.15

The retirement age in the UK is currently 66, but men retire at 64.7 years old on average, while women leave work at 63.6 years old.


  1. Canada: 64.75

Canadians can draw a means-tested state pension from 65, as long as they have lived in the country for 40 years. The system is flexible though, with workers able to take less money from 60 or an increased pension if they delay it until their late 60s. The average age isn’t too far off the recommended age, with men retiring at 65.5 and women retiring at 64, putting the overall retirement age at 64.75


  1. Australia: 64.8

The Australian government increased the official pension age in 2017: people born before 1952 can retire at 65.5, but those born after that face gradual increases until it reaches 67 in 2023.


  1. Ireland: 64.85

Men and women in Ireland can both draw their pension from 66,


  1. Norway: 65.1

Norway’s state pension age has been 67 for men and women since the 1970s, but most men stop working at the age of 66.1 and women even earlier at 64.1.


  1. Latvia: 65.2

In Latvia, men typically work until 65.7 and women until 64.7. That is a little higher than the 63 years and 9 month threshold for a state pension. However, the pension age is set to rise by three months every year, and will reach 65 years on 1 January 2025.


  1. Turkey: 65.6

Turkey’s official retirement age is 60 for men and 58


  1. Switzerland: 65.7

In Switzerland, the average retirement age is 66.4 for men and 65 for women, which makes an average of 65.7. This is roughly in line with the official retirement age of 65 for men and 64 for women. However, the Swiss state offers a flexible pension age, and pensions can be drawn much earlier but with lower entitlements, or up to five years later with much bigger payments.


  1. Sweden: 65.9

Swedish people can draw their means-tested state pension at 61 via the country’s flexible earnings-related scheme, although the guaranteed pension age went up to 68 this year and will rise to 69 in 2023. This will likely only have a limited impact on many Swedes though, as the average age people leave the workplace is already 65.9, with men typically leaving the workforce at 66.4, and women aged 65.4.


  1. Portugal: 66.95

On average Portuguese men retire at 68.5 years old, while women leave work at 65.4. Officially men and women can expect to retire at 66 years and five months, though this will increase to 67 in 2029.


  1. Iceland: 66.95

Icelandic men and women have some of the longest life expectancies on the planet but have long had to work until they are 67, based on at least 40 years’ residency in the country. Most men actually stop working shortly after their 68th birthday, and women just before they turn 66.


  1. Israel: 67.7

Men work until they are 69.4 and women until their 66th birthday. This is higher than the official ages set by the government, which says men should retire at 67 and women at 62. Politicians voted to increase women’s retirement age over a decade ago but have been reluctant to make the proposal a reality, according to the Haaretz newspaper.


  1. New Zealand: 68.1

There is no official retirement age in New Zealand, but pension payments start at the age of 65. Women leaving work at 66.4 and men nearly working up to their 70th birthday. There are plans to raise the pension age to 67 in the late 2030s. The residency rules to qualify for a state pension are also expected to change, with retirees required to have lived in the country for at least 20 years, rather than 10 as previously.


  1. Chile: 68.35

In Chile men retire at 70, while women retire at 66.7. This makes the average real retirement age in the country 68.35, which is considerably higher than the 65 years that Chilean men can retire at, and 60 for Chilean women. However, many may be working longer because the pension system doesn’t provide adequate funds. In 2019 there were protests over the pension scheme, as retirees who were promised 70% of their salaries in their later years have found themselves struggling to make ends meet.


  1. Mexico: 68.9

Mexico’s official retirement age is 65 for men and women, but early retirement is possible from 60. However, in reality the average age people leave the workplace is much higher at 71.3 for men and 66.5 for women. Why? Workers need to have paid in for about 24 years to receive a pension, but less than a third of the working population is expected to qualify, as many are in casual work and have not made enough, or any, contributions.


  1. Japan: 69.95

Perhaps it’s not surprising that Japan’s citizens work until they’re nearly 70 on average, as their life expectancy is among the highest in the world and the country already has one of the oldest populations. Citizens are actually allowed to draw their pension at the age of 62 and this figure is set to rise to 65 years old by 2025, but it is unlikely to make much difference as men often work until they’re 70.8, and women until the age of 69.1. In a bid to save money during the coronavirus pandemic, the number of companies in Japan offering early retirement plans has doubled during 2020, in some cases even allowing people in their 20s and 30s to be eligible, according to a study by Tokyo Shoko Research.


  1. South Korea: 72.3

South Korea comes in with the longest working life of 72.3 years. Both men and women work on average more than 12 years longer than the official retirement age of 60. Why? The country is known for its long life expectancies, but also its poverty. South Korea has the highest elderly poverty rate in the OECD, which means that they may have to keep working later into their lives.





REMEMBER: The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.

– Nicolas Chamfort



“The best dreams happen when you’re awake.” —Cherie Gilderbloom


Happiness is…could be a band name!


What do you call a flying priest? A bird of pray.


Love is…living in hope


A time to be named The Earwigs…a time to be named Alice Cooper. (#15 above.)






©2022 Phil M Robinson