Have you ever wondered, why on earth did they call themselves that? When a journalist asked John Lennon why the Beatles were so called, he replied that a man on a flaming pie appeared in a vision and told him what to name the band; an example of John’s surreal humor there. At least an unusual name gets you noticed. Half Man Half Biscuit and Alien Sex Fiend narrowly missed the cut.
10. Gay for Johnny Depp
No deep reason for this band name. They are self-confessed fans of Depp and who can blame them. The hardcore metal outfit from New York City are controversial due to explicit homoerotic lyrics, which often refer to Depp. Their first full length album is titled ‘The Politics of Cruelty’. They are certainly inventive when it comes to titles for their EP records, such as ‘Erotically Charged Dance Songs for the Desperate’ and ‘Blood: The Natural Lubricant (An Apocalyptic Adventure Beyond Sodom and Gomorrah)’. One wonders what Johnny thinks of all the attention.
9. Bowling for Soup
The punk band from Wichita Falls, Texas likes to make people laugh and is known for their funny lyrics. The video for their best known song, ‘Girl All the Bad Guys Want’, shows the band spoofing other bands. Even their name comes from a comedian. They took inspiration from Steve Martin’s routine, ‘Bowling for Sh**’ on his album, ‘Wild and Crazy Guy’.
8. Wet Wet Wet
This Scottish band had chart success in the 80s and 90s, including a Beatles cover, ‘With a Little Help from My Friends’ and their version of the Troggs’ song, ‘Love Is All Around’, which was used on the soundtrack of ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’. Lead singer Marti Pellow was a handsome fellow and had one of pop’s finest voices. The band name derives from an admiration for Scritti Politti (another name that could have made the list) and a lyric from the song, ‘Getting, Havin and Holdin’; ‘it’s tired of joking – wet wet with tears’.
7. Duran Duran
The New Romantics were the pin up boys of the 80s. Simon Le Bon and his band mates filled up posters in teenage bedrooms with their big hair. They participated in the Band Aid charity single and in the Philadelphia wing of the Live Aid concert. They also performed the James Bond song for ‘A View to a Kill’. Their big hits were ‘Hungry Like the Wolf’, ‘Rio’, ‘The Wild Boys’, and ‘Save a Prayer’. The name comes from the movie based on a comic book, ‘Barbarella’, directed by Roger Vadim and starring Jane Fonda in 1968. Milo O’Shea plays the villain of the piece, Dr. Durand Durand.
6. New Riders of the Purple Sage
This band is a leading exponent of psychedelic country rock and is still active today, having formed in San Francisco in 1969. They have produced numerous albums and endured through many different line-ups. Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead was in the original band. The name takes its inspiration from the best selling western novel, ‘Riders of the Purple Sage’, published in 1912 and written by Zane Grey.
5. Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band
The Bonzo’s were one of the most original bands to appear in the 1960s. Their songs were styled on music hall and traditional jazz. They also parodied the music scene of the time. The members hailed from British art schools and took their name from a cartoon character called Bonzo the Dog by George Studdy and from the art movement, Dada. They had a hit single in 1968 with ‘I’m the Urban Spaceman’ and performed ‘Death Cab for Cutie’ in the Beatles’ film, ‘Magical Mystery Tour’.
4. Death Cab for Cutie
This name is directly linked to the aforementioned Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band. ‘Death Cab for Cutie’ was written by Neil Innes and Vivian Stanshall for the Bonzo’s 1967 album, ‘Gorilla’. The title is taken from an American pulp fiction crime story magazine and the song is sung as a parody of Elvis. The indie rock band from Bellingham, Washington took the name from the Bonzo’s send up. The band’s output includes six studio albums and four EPs.
3. Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci
A bit of a mouthful admittedly, but it didn’t do the Welsh band any harm. Their brand of alternative rock produced ten albums from 1991 – 2006. Proud of their homeland, they recorded in the Welsh language as well as in English. The origin of the name is broken down as follows: They took ‘Gorky’s’ as a word evolved from ‘Gawky’, ‘Zygotic’ was randomly chosen from the dictionary (it means something to do with cells) and ‘Mynci’ amused them as an ‘alternative way to spell monkey’.
2. Godspeed You! Black Emperor
The nine members are based in Montreal and are known for their lengthy songs. Their music is not easily defined and is influenced by rock, punk and classical. Following three studio albums and one EP, the band has been on an ‘indefinite hiatus’ since 2003. Not many band names manage to have an exclamation mark. The origin is from a Japanese documentary released in 1976, which features a biker gang called The Black Emperors.
1. And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead
The six-piece indie rock band from Austin, Texas like to trash their equipment on stage and make a lot of noise (in a good way). The first record was released in 1995 and there have been six studio albums so far. The album covers are lovingly created and are amongst the most artistic. As for the band name origin, they claim that it is taken from an ancient Mayan ritual chant. It is wondered in some quarters however, that they may be pulling our leg.