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How Rock’n’Roll’s Greatest Bands Got Their Names

So you have gone and created a band with your friends. The genre you want to play is rock, but your group is having a tough time naming itself. What is there to do? Why not write a couple of random words down, toss them in a hat, and pick them out one by one?

If your group is struggling to find a name for itself, here are a few famous bands and how they got their own names:

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1. Pink Floyd

Pink Floyd is an English rock band that got their start in London back in 1965. Their sound is described as progressive and psychedelic with philosophical lyrics. The band first formed under the name Tea Set. Syd Barrett and his group landed a show, but another band was playing under the same name.

Syd was a huge fan of the blues genre and had a preference for the sounds of Pink Anderson and Floyd Council. At first, Barrett presented The Pink Floyd Sound to the members. After some discussion, “the” and “sound” were axed. Syd Barrett and the band went on to become the legendary band known as Pink Floyd.

2. Led Zeppelin

Sometimes your name does not come from the inspiration for your music, but from a bad situation that you turned around. Jimmy Page, once a member of The Who, left to begin his own band. Page was told by his former band that it would all “go down like a lead balloon.”

Zeppelin, a type of blimp, replaced the word “balloon” and after a suggestion by the band’s manager, the letter “a” was also dropped from the name. And thus, Led Zeppelin was born.

3. The System of a Down

Anyone born in the late 80s and early 90s is guaranteed to have heard of this band. This is the stuff we grew up on, but we were never aware of how they got their name. The band itself grew up listening to music like Slayer.

Doran Malakian, the band’s guitarist had written a poem he titled “Victims of a Down.” It was settled after the bassist suggested replacing the word “Victims” with “System,” with the first letter of the name an homage to Slayer, their inspiration.

4. The Rolling Stones

This classic band has had such an influence on music in general, that a magazine publication was named after them. But what is the source of inspiration for their name?

During a phone call, the guitarist for the legendary band was trying to get the band a venue to play at. When he was asked the name of the band, he had laid his eyes on the back of a Muddy Waters record when the song “Rolling Stone” caught his attention.

Without hesitation, the guitarist told the person on the other end their name. Muddy Waters was an all-around favorite, so the rest of the band had no problem taking on the name.

5. AC/DC

Where this came from is not hard to tell, but how they got the name is where the story is. Angus and Malcolm Young were the founding members of the band, but at the time they formed in 1973 there was no name for them.

While working on her sewing machine, the pair’s younger sister took notice of the AC/DC (abbreviation for Alternating Current/Direct Current) written on the cord’s label. In her eyes, the band was always high energy so she ran the name by her brothers and it became what the band was known as.

6. Green Day

Green Day, an American Rock Band, was formed in 1986 by members Billie Joel Armstrong and Mike Dirnt. But they did not start out with the name that they are famous for.

When they first started, they rounded the local music circuit as Sweet Children. During work on their initial EP, they were asked to change their name to avoid confusion with another group known as Sweet Baby.

Thinking back to a song Armstrong dedicated to marijuana titled “Green Day,” the guitarist and the rest of the band rolled with it.

7. Nirvana

Famous for their grunge style, Nirvana achieved Rock and Roll Hall of Fame almost faster than any other group. When it comes to the Grunge genre, most adults reference this band.

While discussing possible stage names, weird ones like Pen Can Chew and Ted Ed Fred were thrown into the mix. Kurt Cobain felt that something “beautiful” was more appropriate and the group settled on the ever-wondrous Nirvana.

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