Weirdest Band Names

I thought I'd do a blog on the weirdest band names in music. But there are so many, that it would be a list of thousands. The 60s alone gave us Strawberry Alarm Clock, Peanut Butter Conspiracy, Quicksilver Messenger Service, and San Diegos own Iron Butterfly.

There are also band names that probably sounded weird to the people that first heard them: Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull, and Led Zeppelin. But, once you get used to them, and see the album cover with a blimp or a weird prism, you end up liking the band name (those last three are all ones that had some people thinking it was the name of the lead singer).

There are some local band names that are weird, but kind of cool. Those would include John Cougar Concentration Camp, and The Bastard Sons of Johnny Cash (apparently Cash's lawyers were going to sue, until Cash himself said he liked the name).

Anyway, to limit the list, I thought I would make it this -- THE BEST BANDS WITH THE WORST NAMES.

And that list would include:

-- Bow Wow Wow. My favorite 80s band, and perhaps the most underrated band of that era. They had a few hits (I Want Candy), but the name allows bugged me. And now that the rapper Li'l Bow Wow grew up, and dropped the "Li'l", the two names always get mixed up. I'm not sure how Malcolm McLaren, the guy behind the Sex Pistols, New York Dolls, and Adam and the Ants, came up with this god awful name. I read a book on him, but I can't remember if they talked about the naming of this band.

-- Moby Grape. I know, I'm going back to the 60s. But this is one of those really underrated 60s bands, that never got the credit they deserved. Seek out the song "8:05," which might make the list of worst song titles of all-time.

-- Captain Beefheart. Don Van Vliet could sing in four octives, and to me, many of his songs are a mess. But the songs that are good, are among the best in rock history. But, it's the worst name ever. In the early days it was Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band. His buddy Frank Zappa should've helped him pick another name (loved his Mothers of Invention).

-- The Shins. They seem to rise in popularity with their inclusion in the Garden State soundtrack, which is fine. More people should know about this great band. But, the name. Awful. Who names a band after body parts? There's never been a "The Hands," or "The Feet," so why "The Shins"? Maybe "Shin Splints," would've been a better choice.

-- Notorious B-I-G. And, as is usually the case with rappers, aka "Biggie Smalls." Both names suck. His mentor, Sean "Puff Daddy" Combs, wasn't any better with names.

-- Stone Temple Pilots. I liked this faux San Diego band. But the name sucked. Although, it made for a great abbreviation -- STP. They've used the STP logo on their bass drum at times, and I read in interview where they said that's the reason they came up with the name, so it would have that abbreviation. But I'm guessing a better name could've been thought of, that still gave you the STP.

-- Foo Fighters. I'm not a big fan of this band. I like their sense of humor, and some songs are catchy. They just ain't my cup of tea. But most of the critics like them. David Letterman always jokes when they're on his show, "While you guys are at home sleeping, these guys are all out fighting foo!" The rumor that they got the name because it was originally "Food Fighters," but that a marquee left the "d" out of the name, is false. But Food Fighters might've been a better name.

-- The Police. Again, this is one where you might not think is that bad, because you're used to it. What a horrible name, though. Their debut album is one of my favorites of all-time. But had I known nothing of this band, I would've thought they were a Cheap Trick cover band with a name like "The Police." Now, my cousin played with a band called "The Freewheelers." Their singer has a certain amount of fame, and for a while, he was in a band called "The Federales." Now that's cool.

-- The Flying Burrito Brothers. That may have been a better name then the previous incarnation, which was International Submarine Band. San Diegian Chris Hillman had bigger fame with The Byrds, and singer Gram Parsons had a lot of success solo. But, the name Flying Burrito Brothers should be the name of a trapeze act. Or a dish at Taco Bell. Not a country-alt band.

-- Jesus and Mary Chain. Now, there have been same bands that use "Jesus" in the title, and it works. This isn't one of them. Honorable mention goes to Jesus Lizard, too.

-- Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. What a great band. What a bad name. I started getting into them around the time I started liking The Raveonettes. Not sure which band I like better...but it's an easy call which name I like more.

-- They Might Be Giants. I know they do a lot of fun songs, so having a silly name isn't as bad. But still...this name annoys me. For a band that can write such clever songs, they should've spent more time on a name.

-- TV on the Radio. I liked these guys more when they first came out. Not as big a fan anymore. Definitely not a fan of the band name. Nor was I when San Diegan Eddie Vedder was in his band before Pearl Jam. They were Bad Radio. There was a brief time they were going to call themselves "Mookie Blaylock," after an NBA player. That, I like. Just as I did when that girl band named themselves after an old basketball player -- Luscious Jackson.

-- Frog Brigade. Les Claypool is a great bassist. And, although I didn't care for the name Primus, it worked. And his "Bucket of Bernie Brains," made sense, because it incorporated all the members of the band. Frog Brigade is just bizarre.

-- Queens of the Stone Age. This band can rock, and they have some catchy songs. The name isn't catchy, though. One of my all-time favorite bands is Queen. Wasn't a fan of that name, but hey...they had Freddie Mercury, so it was perfect.

-- The The. When I was in 9th grade, and saw this album in Off the Record near SDSU, I laughed. I thought it was clever, for about 25 seconds. Matt Johnson could write such a great tune, but when coming up with a band name, this might've been a good choice to throw out to make the other members laugh. Then you move on to other choices.

-- Marilyn Manson. I must admit right upfront, that the name grew on me. It doesn't bother me as much now. But when they started out...having each member of the band take the name of a super-model and serial killer, is just lame. A guitarist named Twiggy Ramirez is all I remember. But, like all band names that are a persons name, you get used to them. The name Alice Cooper was probably lame sounding, especially when people wondered where the female singer was. But you get used to it.

HONORABLE MENTION: The Negro Problem. I'm a bigger fan of their singer, Stew, who solo does a lot of amazing acoustic songs. The band was good, but often got a bit psychedlic. The name isn't so bad, but you could never say it around people that aren't familiar with it. I remember being at the Casbah, and I was trying to talk my friends into going to Java Joe's the next night to see The Negro Problem. I talk loud, and noticed a tall African-American looking at me as he smoked a cigarette. I was thinking about explaining to him what I was saying, but decided against it. Maybe that's why the shirts and stickers the band would always make said TNP. Not as catchy as STP.


Jay A. Sanford, who does the music blogs on this site, as well as various music stories, comic strips, and the current cover story in the Reader...often enlightens me on music history. We'll sometimes have emails at 3 a.m. on various music topics.

This was his response to my current blog, filling me in on some info I wasn't aware of:

I've always liked Tonto's Expanding Head Band, their name AND their music. They Might Be Giants are named after a wonderfully odd movie about a guy who thinks he's Sherlock Holmes - name, band and movie are all terrific. The title of the first album by Peanut Butter Conspiracy was "Is Spreading," heh heh. There's a bootleg concert album by them called "Sticks To the Roof of Your Mouth." JAS

hmmm those are weird names...how about hoobastank??? ugh i always hated that... xoxo

I always hated that name, too. I just don't know much about that band. I always think it should be "hobo stank" (why does nobody use the word "hobo" anymore?)

Have you heard!?!?? The ORIGINAL Jane's Addiction with HEADLINER NIN!? We are getting tickets. Are you going?

Oh, yeah. Nine Inch Nails? I've heard it has something to do with coffins. Jane's Addiction? Well, we could sub in all our names for something, now couldn't we?

omg...shut up msgrant are u serious!!!!!!!???????? man you are so lucky lol. since leaving san diego i see i am gonna be missing out on a lot :( have fun for me too k?? xoxoxoxo

"Have you heard!?!?? The ORIGINAL Jane's Addiction with HEADLINER NIN!? We are getting tickets. Are you going?"

Yeah, I know. I'm envious. Won't be there. What an awesome bill.

Even if you gotta go to Chulajuana to see it.


You're also forgetting, guitar virtuosso, Tom Morello opening up the show, too.

Yeah, my girlfriend got tickets yesterday, so we're good to go. We just saw NIN in Vegas, though. I don't need to see 'em again. But I've never seen Jane's, and I dig them. Nothing Shocking is probably one of my top 25 albums of all-time.

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