Evolution of Band Names?

For those who know a bit about rock music recorded before the 90s, you probably noticed (& experienced) the ever-changing trends in band names.

During the 50s rock'n'roll/ doo-wop era, we had dozens of great vocal groups that leaned towards "classy" or romantic sounding names, most having "The" at the beginning. Old school versions, of course.


The Five Satins

The Cadillacs

The Silhouettes

The Diamonds

The Moonglows

Occassionally, you'd get names w/ the -(leader's name) & (The Band's Name Here) formula. (eg: Buddy Holly & The Crickets)

By the late 60s, we started seeing way out names. The more bizarre, the better. No doubt a reflection of the 'psychedelic' counterculture & their values. (eg: Strawberry Alarm Clock, Moby Grape, Crazy Elephant, Vanilla Fudge, The 5th Diomension, Iron Butterfly...)


Into the 70s, names started to sound more like veiled statements or references & one-word names were more common. (eg: Black Sabbath, Generation X, Heart, Queen, Rush, Steely Dan..)

In the 80s, seemed we were getting into an era of fun names or ones that reflected music trends (eg: The Go Gos, The B-52s, Eurythmics, Oingo Bingo, New Order..) Phrases started to creep their way into the picture too (eg: Frankie Goes to Hollywood, A Flock of Seagulls, Missing Persons...)

Update 2:

I've noticed that today, we're seeing more that sound a bit like sentence fragments or phrases.

Bring Me The Horizon

The Devil Wears Prada

Job For A Cowboy


Rise against

Escape the Fate...

Update 3:

Lol! So the actual Question is- What's your take on it all? :)

Update 4:

Jake/ rckets-

You can call the older ones lame or boring...but that's too easy to say with the benefit of 2008 hindsight. Back when those groups were new, few even thought rock'n'roll would last 5 years.

20 Answers

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago
    Best Answer

    Nowadays its usually long pieces of lyrics or statements or poetic lines etc..

    Panic at the disco

    My chemical romance

    bullet for my valentine

    funeral for a friennd

    Job for a cowboy

    as i lay dying

    three doors down

    I quite like these names(thats one thing i like about those bands :P)

    I think earlier bands had it easier because they took all the original names.. and trust me - choosing a band name meaningful is oine of the hardest things of being in a band..

    Band names depends a lot on the scene they come from.. nowadays american punk bands use a lot of ANTI or AGAINST in their names:

    Anti Flag


    RiSE Against etc

    You mentioned names like the leaders name and then the bands name (iggy pop and the stooges)

    In the first punk invasions.. most bands tried to break of the barrier between lead man and rest of band and the audience. It was about unity. Names like

    Sex Pistols


    FAns would be called (for eg - Sheena Ramone,Sheena Pistol) and band members the same (they were all pistols,ramones)

    Then there british INDIE bands who use a lot of people's names in their names and THE is still popular

    THe Klaxons

    THe Hoosiers

    Who's Adam

    Neil's children

    Then there are cheesy acts :


    Yeah yeah yeahs


    We offend you yeah ?

    Yeah those are band names : / ...

    Source(s): Overall i think - band names are influenced by society they live in personal life experiences .. Some bands make one just for a joke (which usually ends up quite popular)
  • Rckets
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    OMG, for the 80's you totally forgot The Human League. I'm starting a one-man campaign to get them into the RARHOF.

    My take on it is a rather simple one. All the good or most of the cool names are either taken or sound too similar to something that has already been used prior. Therefore, these bands are forced to come up with complete madness like Red Jumpsuit Apparatus. But you brought up an excellent point. We were much classier back in the 50's albeit a tad on the boring side.

  • 1 decade ago

    My favorite names are the ones that happen almost accidentally and are therefore very unique.

    For instance, Jimmy Page and Robert Plant discussing their band's future and somebody says something similar to: "If we don't do this right it'll go over like a lead zeppelin." All they did was change the spelling and voila! a cool band name.

    Also, Lynyrd Skynyrd. Named for a coach, Leonard Skinner, who hassled Gary Rossington about his long hair. It was so bad that the whole school joked that the coach was out for Gary.

    One night the young band joked with the audience that they should change their name to Leonard Skinner. The crowd went wild, another change of spelling to protect the innocent, and another great name.

    The names after the mid to late 60s are the best.

  • 1 decade ago

    I really dislike the bands that have the three-words for their name with the exception of my fav band Less Than Jake. The difference between them and bands like Escape the Fate, is that LTJ are fun and have been around forever spreading punk and ska music. The majority of the bands with the long-sentence for their name usually represent awful scream-o/emo/godawful metal music. Some of the bands are indie though like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

    I don't think we'll be seeing a change in the evolution of band names for quite some time.

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  • 1 decade ago

    Bands now use words from other bands like:

    Protest the Hero

    Almost Heros

    and then there's:

    My Chemical Romance

    Matchbook Romance

    But then again, I guess its hard to be original these days because every other teenager in the US thinks its cool to be in a band.

    Source(s): my brain
  • 4 years ago

    Maybe she isn't right for the band then. Also, many singers suck anyway. Look at live clips. To find a real good singer in current days is really hard to do. WHOEVER THE HELL SAID TO ASK AN EMO PERSON IS INSULTING TO ALL PEOPLE WHO LIKE ROCK! WE AREN'T EMO!

  • 1 decade ago

    Fonzie, That's a pretty astute observation that I never noticed before!

    Cheers to you for pointing that out.

    These longer band and song names just makes it harder for me to remember them and another thing I've noticed is that when you push the radio INFO button, while a song is playing (to see the band and songs name), the band with a long name or long song title gets truncated which isn't a good thing if you want to know who it is so you can buy their music.

  • 1 decade ago

    back then, rock bands weren't the big thing. So they could pick names that used common words, and still stick out.

    But now, there are sooooooooo many bands, so bands are trying to pick names that are original, and stick out, so that people remember. Or they have significance to the band, for example Greeley Estates.

  • 1 decade ago

    I'm blown away, Fonzie! I love history and you've done a great job of analyzing band names within their eras.

    What's my take on it? You're absolutely right, esp. as pertains to the band names of today... Red Jumpsuit Apparatus and The Devil Wears Prada ~ perfect examples.

  • it was about the music, not the band in my opinion in tn the past...nowadays it seems like its not about talent anymore its about the look. so the more weird sounding or obscure the name the more attention it brings to the band. and we all know thats what little kids like these days. who cares if they cant play, they have a cool sounding name and look good....man i miss the older days..the 50/60's were some good ol' rock and roll..and it was about talent...

    good post.

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