Names, names, names, names: they’re pretty tough to come by, originally. As we’ve mentioned before, picking a bands names can be pretty hard. There are some pretty amazing band names out there, but let’s be fair – when you name your band, you want that name to come from a pretty amazing place.
While there’s the famous story about AC/DC getting their name from a sewing machine, what about all those awesome bands who got their equally brilliant names from artists who were already established?
What better way to start your band than to follow in the footsteps of those who have already tread their own path in the artistic direction you wish to go, and just copy down names?
To further this thought, we decided to take a look at the bands who took inspiration for their names from the greats and named their group after another’s work.
Of course, we’re only scratching the surface here, there are plenty of other artists who’ve taken inspiration for their names from other artists and used their work to inspire a name for themselves, but here’s a small sampling for your reading pleasure.
Little Birdy were everywhere in the Aussie music scene in the 2000s. With an array of hits behind them such as ‘Beautiful To Me’, ‘Come On, Come On’, and ‘Relapse’, the band managed to capture the hearts of music fans all over the country with their wholesome and catchy tunes.
However, the group’s genuine, straightforward nature is in direct contrast to the kookiness of America’s Ween, whose 1992 track ‘Little Birdy’ served as inspiration for our Aussie group’s name.
Check out Ween’s ‘Little Birdy’:
Hunters & Collectors
Hunters & Collectors set themselves apart from the rest of the rock bands in the early 1980s. In addition to their driving, pub-rock style of music, they managed to mix in a more avant-garde style of art-funk, and post-punk that would usually be found in the record collection of Nick Cave, rather than frontman Mark Seymour.
Staying close to their influences, the group lifted their name from the German krautrock group band Can, whose experimental style was a direct influence on the early days of the group.
Check out Can’s ‘Hunters & Collectors’:
Radiohead are a group that need no introduction, with a reputation for being one of the most innovative and intriguing bands of the last few decades, their music is absolutely legendary.
So of course, it would make sense that they take their name from ‘Radio Head’, a song by one of the most innovative and intriguing bands of the 1970s and 1980s.
It’s only fitting that Radiohead adopt their moniker from a group such as Talking Heads, only to take their place as critically acclaimed darlings of the alternative scene.
Check out Talking Heads’ ‘Radiohead’:
Our Aussie rock juggernauts Powderfinger achieved huge success in the ’90s and ’00s with their brand of radio-friendly rock that just happened to be pretty awesome, in addition to being pretty catchy.
The Brisbane lads started their career as a metal band, rather than an alternative rock band, and it took them quite a while to make a name for themselves in the Aussie music scene.
However, their name remained the same from conception, being taken from the Neil Young song of the same name. Labelled by Rolling Stone as the best Neil Young song ever, ‘Powderfinger’ remains one of Young’s most underrated songs, but one of Australia’s best-known bands.
Check out Neil Young’s ‘Powderfinger’:
Death Cab For Cutie
Death Cab For Cutie have made a name for themselves as one of the most popular indie-rock groups of the last few decades, and with their accomplished musicianship, and their often-depressing subject matter, it’s a surprise to consider their name comes from a experimental British band, often associated with comedy, than anything else.
The infamous Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band released a song entitled ‘Death Cab For Cutie’ on their debut record Gorilla back in 1967. The song was a parody of the teenage tragedy songs of the ’50s and ’60s, and was about a taxi that killed a girl – the titular ‘cutie’.
Whether this sort of music was the original intent of Ben Gibbard’s band in the ’90s, or whether the comedic style served as a stark contrast between his style of music isn’t clear, but regardless, their name is derived from a parody song.
Check out The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band’s ‘Death Cab For Cutie’:
English group Everything Everything decided to follow in the footsteps of Radiohead and take their name from another act’s song. To turn their little act of inspiration full circle, they decided to adopt their moniker from Radiohead’s ‘Everything In its Right Place’.
The opening track of the breathtaking Kid A album, ‘Everything In Its Right Place’ shows off the technical musicianship of Radiohead in their experimental prime.
The repeated lyrics of “everything, everything” seemed to strike a chord with the members of Everything Everything back in the day, because the name not only fits them like a glove, but has seen them reach vast amounts of success.
Check out Radiohead’s ‘Everything In Its Right Place’:
For an artist as innovative and popular in the world of electronica, you would think that Flume may have taken his name from an obscure Aphex Twin B-side, or the title track from a rare Venetian Snares single, but you would also be way off.
See, Flume’s name, unlike his music, comes from a far softer and tender place.
When Bon Iver broke onto the scene with the album For Emma, Forever Ago back in 2007, Harley Streten didn’t skip forward to ‘Skinny Love’, instead he started with the track ‘Flume’. Obviously, it struck a chord with him, because soon enough, he had adopted it as his moniker and began releasing music.
Check out Bon Iver’s ‘Flume’:
Jet were one of Australia’s biggest exports in the early ’00s. Thanks to the success of their record Get Born, and tracks like ‘Are You Gonna Be My Girl’, ‘Rollover DJ’, and ‘Look What You’ve Done’, the group were everywhere, even being featured on TV commercials around the world.
While America’s love affair with Jet declined when they released their second album, Australia stuck by them.
The Cester lads grew up surrounded by classic rock albums, such as Paul McCartney And Wings’ Band On The Run, which included the track ‘Jet’.
The boys were so taken by the track they named their band after it. Limited editions of Get Born also contain a song titled ‘Sgt. Major’ which quite possibly was named after one of the lines in the song ‘Jet’ as well.
Check out Paul McCartney And Wings’ ‘Jet’:
Seether are quite possibly one of the best-known South African bands that aren’t Die Antwoord. Formed in 1999 under the name Saron Gas, the group decided to go with something a little less inflammatory and renamed themselves with something that would allow some chart success.
Going through their music collection, one of their members must have stumbled upon Veruca Salt’s American Thighs, because the group named themselves after the album’s biggest hit, ‘Seether’. The South African group actually covered the song in 2013 as a tribute to Veruca Salt.
Check out Veruca Salt’s ‘Seether’:
Between The Buried And Me
Between The Buried And Me are one of the most critically acclaimed metal groups of recent years. With a tendency to record some immensely technical music, and put on some of the most intense shows you could witness, one can only imagine the brutal force of the band they took their name from, right?
Well, if you consider Counting Crows heavy, then sure.
Back when Counting Crows were riding high on the success of ‘Mr. Jones’ and ‘Round Here’, one track from that album that didn’t see as much success was the song ‘Ghost Train’.
With the track including the lyric, “I rode a ladder that climbed across the nation, fifty million feet of earth between the buried and me,” our hard-rocking pals thought this would suit their style, and decided to name their band as such.
Check out Counting Crows’ ‘Ghost Train’:
With a name like ‘The Killers’, you could almost be surprised that no other band had already taken the name before the Las Vegas band we’re familiar with adopted it as their moniker. (If you want to be pedantic, Paul Di’Anno, Iron Maiden’s first singer, called his band Killers, without a ‘the’, but that’s not what we’re focusing on here.)
Having formed in 2001, the group were inspired by the New Order song ‘Crystal’, which was released that same year. The film clip features a fictional band performing the track, in which the drummer’s bass drum is stencilled with the group’s name, ‘The Killers’.
Figuring that since no real band was using that as their name, Brandon Flowers and co. decided it would suit their music, and thus, a new band name was born.
Check out New Order’s ‘Crystal’:
The Naked And Famous
Back in 2010, The Naked And Famous were inescapable. With their catchy, synth-pop style, and their penchant for delivering killer live shows, the were critically acclaimed, and rightly so. However, their name comes from a band whose style is just a tiny bit different to theirs.
You might recall The Presidents Of The United States Of America from their hits ‘Lump’, ‘Kitty’, or for their cover of ‘Cleveland Rocks’, the theme to The Drew Carey Show, but it was their 1994 track ‘Naked And Famous’ that inspired our New Zealand friends to name their band.
Check out The Presidents Of The United States Of America’s ‘Naked And Famous’:
New South Wales band Regular John have been doing the rounds for quite a few years now, having released their debut record The Peaceful Atom Is A Bomb back in 2009. With their straightforward rock style, the group have taken influence from a large number of amazing rock bands to achieve the sound that we love from them.
However, it was the Queens Of The Stone Age song ‘Regular John’, from their debut record, where the Aussie group gets their name. Let’s face it though, try to listen to this track and remain uninspired to start your own band, it can’t be done.
Check out Queens Of The Stone Age’s ‘Regular John’:
Have you ever been singing along to song, only to get the lyrics so badly wrong that your friends make fun of you for years to come? Yeah, uh, neither have we, but there are some times when a misheard lyric can lead to an awesome band name.
See, back in 1974, a young Sydney band were listening to the track ‘1970’ by The Stooges, and misheard a lyric near the start.
Where the words were supposed to be “radio burnin’ up above“, our Sydney lads heard the phrase “radio birdman up above.” Thinking this would be an awesome band name, Radio Birdman were soon born.
Check out The Stooges’ ‘1970’:
Silverchair were the Aussie band of the ’90s. Every Australian music fan threw their support behind the teenage world-beaters who were managing to not only break into that elusive American market, but were creating their own immense legacy, all before being old enough to drive a car.
Often derisively dubbed ‘Nirvana in pyjamas’ due to their young age, the group actually owe their name to Nirvana. Well, half of it anyway.
The story goes that Silverchair’s name comes from a combination of a deliberate misspelling of Nirvana’s 1990 single ‘Sliver’, and our own You Am I’s ‘Berlin Chair’. Despite frequent claims it comes from C.S. Lewis’ The Silver Chair, their name has a far more rockin’ origin story.