Sometimes it can be really fun to try to figure out how a band got their name, or what that name means. Sometimes, the name of the band can allude to the type of music they made (for example, Mudhoney made grunge, garage rock, and the name represents that. Nine Inch Nails made heavy industrial, and the name represents that). But sometimes, bands were very much inspired by other bands and other songs when it came to naming their own bands. Some do it as an homage, some do it as a way of giving thanks to those who inspired them, and some just do it because it’s catchy. Here are fifteen bands who were named after songs (from other bands).
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The Rolling Stones
This blues influenced rock band has been going strong for decades now, and this is due in no small part to the recognition that comes along with the band. Yes, one of the most famous bands of all time took their name from someone’s else’s song. As you know, the Rolling Stones were heavily influenced by early blues. With that in mind, they took their name from the Muddy Waters’ song, Like A Rolling Stone.
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Maybe the greatest band that makes music today is Radiohead. Though some of their music is experimental and turns off some of the newer listeners, they don’t care and don’t compromise their music for anyone. But did you know the band was named after a Talking Heads song of the same name? Cool side note, this band was originally named On A Friday. Good idea to go with the name change, guys. Way more memorable.
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Deep Purple may be the fathers of one of the most memorable riffs in guitar history (Smoke on the Water), but did you know they were named after song you would never expect? Deep Purple was originally the name of a Bing Crosby song. If you are unfamiliar with who that it, let’s just put it this way: the guy did NOT make rock music. Bing was known as one of the better actors and dancers of his generation. But as we said, when you think o Deep Purple you do not think of Bing Crosby.
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Not exactly a precise lifting of an exact lyric, but rather, the Pretenders were very inspired by the Platter’s song, The Great Pretender. They decided to play around with that name until they figured out The Pretenders was a more astute version of it. The irony being that the band did end up being pretty “great”. Well played, Fate. Ms. Hines is known as one of the better songwriters as well as singers in rock history.
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Though many may not even remember this grunge rock act from the late 90’s, early 2000’s, but they still tour to this day. What many did not know about this band is that they were originally an Alice in Chains cover band. The song Godsmack is on the second Alice in Chains album, Dirt. Though they may not be on the map as much as they were in the grunge days, they still have a big following and that name still resonates in rock circles.
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Boyz II Men
Ah, the East Coast Family. Who can forget the ever charming Boyz II Men? But these guys wanted to give some props to some cats who did it before them. Namely, New Edition. So when it came time to name their band, they turned the song Boys To Men into band name Boyz II Men. Nice little twist. Believe it or not this band is still going strong. While you may not hear their names as often as you used to, they’re still working hard and making music.
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Lemmy makes every list better. I hope you all can appreciate that. What sets this entry different than the others on this “bands who were names after songs” list is that Lemmy named his band after a song he had written in his band before Motorhead, Hawkwind. You have to admit, Motorhead is way tougher sounding than Hawkwind. We think he made the right choice. Besides you know the ever so famous phrase, “Lemmy is God.”
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You guys and gals may remember Jet best from their intro song, Are You Gonna Be My Girl. Another band clearly influenced by blues when making rock, the song they chose to name their band from does not actually reflect that. The band derived from from the Paul McCartney and Wings number, Jet, off their Band on the Run album. We’d like to think Sir Paul was just going through a phase when he was in the band Wings.
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This one is actually highly debated among people. There are some people who say Lady Gaga named herself that because of her Gaga presence, and she is artsy and crazy. Others say her name is an homage to the Queen song, Radio Gaga (which is actually a song about how bad music on the radio is, ironically enough). She is very self aware, so we like to think it is a mix of both. Either way, we don’t think we’ve heard the last of Gaga and won’t for a very long time.
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Breaking the law, breaking the law! Sorry, this band brings out the Beavis and Butthead in us. But I bet you would never believe that this band took their name from (of all people), a Bob Dylan song? The song is called The Balled of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest, and it is the last place you would think a metal band would look for inspiration. I guess that makes it even cooler, really. Either way, we’re just glad we had an excuse to mention two classic MTV icons from the 90s.
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Pretty Girls Make Graves
What music list would be a music list without a cool, indie band name-drop. Pretty Girls Make Graves made waves on the college scene, but do you know where the band for their name from? You probably do, because the Smiths were huge. Pretty Girls Make Graves is a song from 80’s icons, The Smiths. The weird part is The Smiths were inspired to write the song by a Jack Kerouac poem. So that is like inspirationception. Inspiration within inspiration. Whoa, heavy man.
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Though it would be easy to write of The Kooks as just a silly name for a bunch of silly dudes, the name has deeper meaning and origin than that. The Kooks is a direct nod to the David Bowie track of the same name of the Hunky Dory album. Anything Bowie is cool with us. The band is kooky, too, which makes the name work on multiple levels. Though you’d be hard pressed to find a Kooks song that’s been famous, these guys were pretty good.
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It is clear to see now how much younger and hipper bands (like Ladytron) were hugely inspired by the new wave music scene of the eighties (even though everyone made fun of that scene when it was happening.) Ladytron actually take their name from the song Ladytron, by the seminal eighties band, Roxy Music. This kind of has us wondering what modern bands right now will be inspiring bands names we hear twenty years from now. Deep, we know. This stuff gets you thinking on Matrix type levels.
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Rage Against the Machine
Rage Against the Machine is another one of the someone different examples of bands who were named after songs. You see, lead singer of Rage Against the Machine, Zack de La Rocha, was in a band called Inside Out first. One of the songs Inside Out performed was called Rage Against the Machine. So they named themselves after a song the lead singer had written in a former band. Sort of like the Lemmy example from Motorhead earlier.
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You figure this Nirvana sound-alike would have gone the route of naming their band something that related to that band, but no. Seether actually named themselves after a Veruca Salt song called Seether. We think there were some ulterior motives here, as Veruca Salt was all young, attractive rocker chicks. Silly grunge band were trying to get brownie points with the cool, rocker girls. Pretty sure it didn’t pan out for them in that sense.
There you have it. Fifteen bands and artists who were named after songs. In some cases, songs they even wrote prior to be in that band. Who did we miss? Take to our comments section and let us know, but be nice about it.
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