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5 Famous Band Name Origins

How did these legendary music acts come up with their band names?

Photo credit: Travis Rigel Lukas Hornung

William Shakespeare once penned the words, "What’s in a name?" Well, when it comes to band names, there's usually a great story involved. After all, for many bands, the most difficult part of getting started is coming up with a name that is catchy, meaningful and authentically represents the band's identity as a whole—no pressure! From dissing another rock band's performance to borrowing the name of an especially stern high school gym teacher, here are some of the most interesting stories behind the names of our favourite bands.  

Lynyrd Skynyrd

Photo Credit: Rockman

The inspiration behind Lynyrd Skynyrd's band name came from none other than Robert E. Lee High School's Leonard Skinner, a tough-as-nails gym teacher and basketball coach who became infamous for sending long-haired male students to the principal's office. One of the shaggy-haired students he disciplined was founding band member Gary Rossington, who eventually dropped out of school (perhaps because he was tired of being heckled about his hair!). As a way of paying homage to their old gym teacher, the band adopted the name Lynyrd Skynyrd and went on to become the American rock band best known for popularizing the Southern rock genre during the 1970s. "Sweet Home Alabama" and "Freebird" are still considered to be two of the most iconic Southern power ballads of all time. Listen to the familiar opening guitar riff of "Sweet Home Alabama" in High-Res Audio, and reminisce on all those times you spent singing along to this classic Southern anthem during cross-country road trips of summers past. 

AC/DC

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AC/DC is an Australian hard rock band formed by brothers Malcolm and Angus Young. Any AC/DC fan would know that Angus Young is typically seen on stage wearing a schoolboy uniform. But what you might not know is that Malcolm and Angus' older sister, Margaret, was the one who originally created Angus' schoolboy outfits when the band first started performing. While working on one of his costumes, Margaret noticed the letters "AC/DC" on the back of her sewing machine, an abbreviation for "alternating current/direct current" electricity. The Young brothers agreed upon the band name AC/DC during one of their rehearsals. They loved its association with electricity, raw energy and power—characteristics that they wanted their music to emulate. Check out AC/DC's fifteenth studio album, “Rock or Bust,” which hit No. 3 on the Billboard 200 and No. 1 on Top Rock Albums. The high-res version truly allows you to appreciate every detail of Brian Johnson's distinctive, powerful voice—even when he hits those crazy high notes. 

For the ultimate listening experience, try pairing "Rock or Bust" with the MDR-1A Headphones. With a frequency range extending up to 100 kHz, the High-Resolution Audio MDR-1A headphones truly capture the band's quintessential rock and roll sound.

Cheap Trick

Photo Credit: Nick Ares

Cheap Trick is an American rock band from Rockford, Illinois, best known for hits like "Surrender," "I Want You to Want Me" and "Dream Police." Legend has it that the band's name originated with a visit to a psychic's house where they asked a Ouija board what they should call themselves. Unfortunately, it turns out that the story is just an urban myth. What actually happened is group members Tom Petersson, bass guitarist, and Rick Nielsen, lead guitarist, went to a Slade rock concert when Tom remarked to Rick, "Hey, they are using every cheap trick in the book!" Rick responded, "Hey, that's a good band name." And since that fateful day, the band has gone on to rank No. 25 on VH1's list of the 100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock. 

The 1975

Photo Credit: Begoña

Before settling on The 1975 as their band's name, the British alternative rock group experimented with a series of different names, including Talkhouse, The Slowdown, Bigsleep and Drive Like I Do. It wasn't until front man and lead vocalist Matt Healy came across the back page of an old Beat poetry book dated "1 June, The 1975" that they found a name that stuck. The band has since released four EPs and delighted fans with its irresistible synthpop hooks. Their second album, "I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful yet So Unaware of It," was released worldwide in February and debuted at No. 1 in the U.K. Albums Chart and the U.S. Billboard 200. Check out the link below to listen to the high-res version and experience Healy's haunting, smooth vocals for yourself. 

To really amp up the experience, listen on the NW-A20 Series Walkman® and take The 1975's ethereal electropop beats with you wherever you go.  

Daft Punk

Photo Credit: Minyoung Choi 

Daft Punk is a French electronic music duo that's known for producing mind-blowing combinations of house music with elements of funk, techno, disco, rock and synthpop. The duo comprises Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter who maintain their privacy and anonymity by donning their iconic robot helmets. But long before the duo embraced their robot personas, they were just two ordinary students at Lycée Carnot, a secondary school in Paris. The two became fast friends and started a guitar-based rock group called Darlin'. So, how did Darlin' transition into what we now know as electronic music sensation Daft Punk? A music critic named Dave Jennings wrote up a negative review in the British music magazine Melody Maker, describing Darlin' as a "daft punky thrash," much to the band's amusement. Though Darlin' disbanded soon after, Bangalter and de Homem-Christo began experimenting with drum machines and synthesizers. They never quite forgot that Melody Maker review, and decided to call their new music project Daft Punk as a tongue-in-cheek tribute.

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