There are a multitude of odd, distasteful, even bad names for bands out there. Sometimes it seems that the worse a band is, the stranger the name – perhaps to give them recognition they could otherwise never hope to receive, due to their lack of talent. Ever wonder how your favorite band got its name? Or how some of the stranger names for bands originated in the first place? Wonder no longer. Here are ten of the strangest names for popular (or semi-popular) bands that have ever existed, followed by the stories behind their acquisition of those weird names. Read on!
1. Duran Duran
The name of this iconic 1980s band was inspired by one of their favorite clubs in Birmingham, England, called “Barbarella’s.” The name Duran Duran was actually taken from the evil character “Dr. Durand Durand,” played by Milo O’Shea in Roger Vadim’s 1968 science-fiction cult film Barbarella. So the band’s name isn’t just nonsense, although some of their lyrics might be considered as such!
2. Toad the Wet Sprocket
Toad the Wet Sprocket sounds like a name that was thought up during a bad (or good, depending upon how you look at it) drug trip. Actually, the band took its name from the monologue “Rock Notes” by Eric Idle on Monty Python’s Contractual Obligation Album from 1980. Sounds like a Python-esque name, come to think of it!
Funny name for a one-hit 1980s wonder. The band was auditioning for a lead singer in 1981 and chose Christopher Hamill, who was going by the stage name Limahl. Once Limahl joined the group, the band’s name was changed to Kajagoogoo, which was supposed to be the phonetic spelling of a baby’s first sounds (‘GagaGooGoo,’ changed slightly to ‘Kajagoogoo’). Long story for the name of a band that ended up just being a one-hit wonder, don’t you think?
Doug Robb of the band told Launch Yahoo! in an interview that the band’s name has no real meaning. “It’s one of those old high school inside-joke words that didn’t really mean anything,” he explained. Another explanation from the group on a 2003 radio show, however, said that the name was taken from a gas station in a German town where a friend lives. Either way, guys, the story isn’t really all that exciting – might want to come up with a new explanation of the name Hoobastank for the next time you’re asked!
5. Foo Fighters
Dave Grohl’s band that followed the demise of Nirvana was named after the term used by Allied aircraft pilots in World War II to describe UFOs or mysterious aerial phenomena seen in the skies. Foo Fighters can loosely be translated to “fire fighters,” as feu is the French word for fire. These “foo fighters” seen in the skies over Europe and the Pacific never harmed anyone. Today’s Foo Fighters only harm die-hard Nirvana fans who long for the ghost of Kurt Cobain to return.
There are many explanations floating around the Internet about what Chumbawamba really means. The band’s official website says the following: “Chumbawamba doesn’t mean anything. At the time we formed there was a rush of bands with obvious names. It was the time of ‘peace punk’ and you couldn’t get across a youth club dance floor without bumping into a Disorder, a Subhumans, a Decadent Youth or an Anthrax t-shirt. We liked the sound of Chumbawamba because it wasn’t nailing ourselves down. …We wanted a name which wouldn’t date.” Alice and Boff of the band once said on a German website that Chumbawamba came from the mascot of a football team, Walford Town, found in an old book about English football. However, there has never been a team in English football called Walford Town. With conflicting stories emerging from band members, who knows what to believe? More importantly, does anyone really care?
7. Scritti Politti
The 1980s band Scritti Politti chose their name to pay tribute to Italian Marxist Theorist Antonio Gramsci. Scritti Politti refers to Gramsci’s political writings. The correct name, technically, should be Scritti Politici, but don’t fault these one-hit wonders for their misspelling. It was hard enough to come up with “Perfect Way,” let alone spell the name of their band correctly!
8. Lynyrd Skynyrd
“Leonard Skinnerd” was reportedly a tongue-in-cheek tribute to a physical-education teacher at Robert E. Lee High School named Leonard Skinner. Skinner was famous for enforcing the school’s policy against boys’ having long hair. Before the band released their first album, they changed the name to the more distinctive spelling of Lynyrd Skynyrd. After becoming “famous” through the band’s use of his name, Skinner actually became friendly with the guys, allowing them to use his realty sign for the inside of their third album and introducing the band at a concert in the Jacksonville Memorial Coliseum. Who would have thought that the name was inspired by a real-life person and not just the inane product of a bunch of rednecks?
9. Death Cab for Cutie
Ben Gibbard, the lead singer, knew that he wanted to name his band Death Cab for Cutie before he even formed the band. The name comes from the title of a song in the Beatles’ film Magical Mystery Tour. The song is performed by the band The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band in the film. That’s such a hidden reference that only true fans of the Beatles or of Death Cab for Cutie probably know the story behind the band’s name!
10. Right Said Fred
The duo behind the hit “I’m Too Sexy” are actually brothers named Richard and Fred Fairbass. Some have speculated that the name Right Said Fred comes from the names Richard and Fred, which, when spoken quickly could sound like Right Said Fred. Others have said that the band’s name comes from an Irish or Scottish drinking song. The Fairbass brothers themselves say that their name came from Bernard Cribbins’ 1962 top ten hit entitled “Right Said Fred.” These multiple stories continue the trend of bands with strange names who never confirm one story of the origin of their name over another, preferring to leave an air of mystery with the public and their fans.