What's in a name? Well sometimes more than meets the eye when it comes to the monikers chosen by rock and pop acts over the years. Read on to discover the origins of 31 of those bewildering band names...

Novel names

FILE - In this Friday, July 13, 2012 file photo, A sign welcomes people to Okemah, Oklahoma, the home of Woody Guthrie, in Okemah, Okla. A dispute over the finances and control of a planned rebuild of folk legend Woody Guthrie’s boyhood home in Oklahoma could put the project in jeopardy. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)

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1. The Boomtown Rats: from a gang in Woody Guthrie’s Bound for Glory autobiography.

2. The Fall: named after the 1956 Albert Camus novel The Fall (La Chute in French).

3. The Doors: taken from Aldous Huxley’s account about the effects of taking mescaline, The Doors of Perception.

4. Level 42: the number 42 is what the supercomputer in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy gives as the answer to life the universe and everything.

5. Coldplay: originally used by another band who split up and donated it to Chris Martin and crew. But the original band chose the name from a collection of children’s poetry called Child’s Reflections: Coldplay.


Movie monikers


6. Black Sabbath: after a 1963 Boris Karloff horror movie of the same name.

7. Duran Duran: the villain in the 1967 science fiction movie Barbarella.

8. Heaven 17: the name of the fictional pop group in the film A Clockwork Orange.

9. Noah and the Whale: a combination name from the film The Squid & The Whale plus its director Noah Baumbach.

10. Moloko: from the slang word for milk in A Clockwork Orange.

11. Elbow: from the line in The Singing Detective when Philip Marlow describes elbow as the loveliest word in the English language.


Historical handles

A portrait of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his family - Duchess Sophie and children Maximilian, Ernst and Sophie.

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12. Franz Ferdinand: the name of the Archduke of Austria whose assassination sparked
World War I.

13. Arcade Fire: from a story heard by one of the band as a child about a local arcade burning down.

14. Kasabian: Linda Kasabian was member of Charles Manson’s notorious murderous cult.

15. Foo Fighters: the name given to strange-looking fireballs and UFOs by WWII pilots.


Bowie branded

Rene Rivo, a Filipino David Bowie fan, plays a picture disc of David Bowie's Hunky Dory on a turntable at his shop in suburban Paranaque, south of Manila, Philippines on Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2016. Bowie, the chameleon-like star who transformed the sound - and the look - of rock with his audacious creativity and his sexually ambiguous makeup and costumes, died of cancer Sunday, Jan. 10. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

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23. The Kooks: an homage to David Bowie’s Kooks from the album Hunky Dory.

24. Simple Minds: taken from the lyrics of David Bowie’s single The Jean Genie.


Location labels

Motorists start to queue in heavy traffic on the M25 between junction 12 and 13 as the August Bank Holiday getaway begins PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday August 22, 2014. See PA story TRAVEL . Photo credit should read: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

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16. Orbital: another name for the M25, reflecting time spent looking for raves on the ring road during the 1980s and 90s.

17. The Beautiful South: Paul Heaton revealed it was a sarcastic reflection of his dislike of southern England.

18. Fairport Convention: the house in Muswell Hill where they used to practise was called Fairport.

19. The Holloways: met at the pub venue Nambucca which is on Holloway Road

20. Backstreet Boys: comes from a flea market in Orlando, Florida.


Instrumental identities

Drum kit in new order video with Killers written on it

21. The Killers: this was the name on bass drum of the fictional band in New Order vid for the song Crystal.

22. The Prodigy: after Liam Hewlett’s first analogue synth, the Moog Prodigy.


Assorted aliases

Sid vicious padlock necklace

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25. Razorlight: the make of padlock worn by Sid Vicious.

26. The Macabees: chosen by random flicking through The Bible.

27. Pulp: arabacus pulp was a commodity name Jarvis learned in Economics class.

28. Daft Punk: from a description of a single in Melody Maker as a daft punky thrash.

29. The Human League: the name of a futuristic society in 70s boardgame Starforce:Alpha Centaur

30. Kaiser Chiefs: named after South African football club SA Kaizer Chiefs, the team of former Leeds captain Lucas Radebe.

31. AC/DC: Angus Young’s sister made him his stage outfits on a sewing machine bearing the label AC/DC.