Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Band Name Origins: V - Z


The concluding item in this series:

Van Halen
After Alex and Eddie Van Halen - suggested by David Lee Roth as being better than their original name "Mammoth."  They might have been called  'Daddy Longlegs' if Gene Simmons of KISS had gotten his way - he partially financed and produced one of their original demo records and suggested names and artwork.

Velvet Underground
60's experimental band associated with pop artist Andy Warhol, they took their name from a paperback book they found on the street - the book was about sado masochism.

After meeting in a band called "Executive", George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley said they named their duo Wham! because wanted to make a loud impact in the music business.

The Who
Were originally called The Detours, then changed their name to The Who after a suggestion by Townsend's friend Richard Barnes.  One story says that while taking suggestions for a new name, someone noticed that the band members were already so hard of hearing that they kept saying, "The who?"  Their first manager, Pete Meaden, renamed them The High Numbers, and they released one unsuccessful single, Zoot Suit, under that name. When EMI dropped them the band sacked Pete Meaden and went back to being called The Who.

Paul McCartney's  band –
1.      In the Paul/Beatles song "Blackbird" you'll hear "Take these broken wings and learn to fly" which is what he did in his next album - a solo effort.
2.      When Linda McCartney was giving birth to their daughter Stella, Paul was pacing around hoping everything was going well and he was praying and started thinking of angels and wings.  Wings just stuck in his mind.

The Yardbirds
From a list of names proposed by vocalist Keith Relf, the band chose the one that was slang for railyard hobos. In a 2010 interview with, Yardbirds' guitarist Chris Dreja said: "We thought that was not only a very original sort of sounding name for a sort of Beat group as you like, but it kind of matched what we were doing. I'm glad we chose it." 

ZZ Top
Billy Gibbons (guitar and vocals) had suggested "ZZ King" as a potential name for the band after looking at posters of  bluesmen Z Z Hill and B B King on his apartment wall. According to Gibbons' autobiography Rock + Roll Gearhead, he settled on "ZZ Top" because B.B. King was "on the top".  There is also a rumour that they got their name by combining Zig Zag and Top, two well known brands of "cigarette" rolling papers. 


  1. I did not know The Yardbirds and ZZ Top were one and the same band :)

  2. Yeah, I screwed up. Now fixed. Wouldn't you know, it happens on the very last item, and how much more last can you be than ZZ alphabetically.


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