Band Names, Album Titles And Musician's Monikers

Posted by Bjarke Bakker on August 14, 2016 0 Comments
It is commonly known that the name The Beatles (originally "The Beat Brothers", then "The Silver Beatles" until "Silver" was scrapped) was a slightly altered version of the name of a biker gang called The Beetles in the Marlon Brando-starred "The Wild One" from 1953(!). 
But did you know from where Black Rebel Motorcycle Club got their name? 
From exactly the same movie albeit the name of the rival gang, the Black Rebel(s) Motorcycle Club!!
If you think this kind of useless information is for you?...then read on!
Let's try to investigate other bands' names, album titles and musicians' monikers!
I'll follow some leads through this post the first being the novel "Naked Lunch" by beat author William Burroughs. This novel has inspired many bands and songwriters for both name and song(title) inspirations. 
Steely Dan is both an excellent jazz-pop band but also a dildo in the novel. And in case you'd ever wondered why the (brilliantly executed by the way) Duke Ellington jazz instrumental East St. Louis Toodle-Oo is found on the "Pretzel Logic" album it's as simple as this: the tune is mentioned in..."Naked Lunch"!
In the novel you'll also find the expression "the hissing of summer lawns". As you may know Joni Mitchell used this line for both album and song title. 


The 1976 Frank Zappa album title "Zoot Allures" might also have been lifted from "Naked Lunch". In the novel it reads "zut alors"- an English Frenchism meaning damn! FZ then twists the expression to something slightly different but still...I'm guessing here I know. Even David Bowie arguably stole a line from the old beat master poet, who wrote of some male prostitute's inability to sell his "God given ass"!! Bowie used this term for Ziggy Stardust: "....with God-given ass." Here with a characteristic of a different nature! Hull punkers Dead Fingers Talk looked to a later Burroughs novel of the same name.


If you are still with me let's look at other inspirations: 4AD artists This Mortal Coil looked to another William...namely Shakespeare. His play "Hamlet" where Hamlet's famous self-addressed "To Be Or Not To Be"- monologue in which Hamlet speaks of "this mortal coil" (meaning: dealing with life's daily troubles). Also in this monologue Wishbone Ash found the title "There's The Rub" for their fifth album!! Rush found a title for their double live set 1976's "All The World's A Stage" in Shakespeare's play "As You Like It". In my earlier blog post "What's its gonna be, eh?" on the novel/movie "A Clockwork Orange" I've argued where the record company Korova (Echo & The Bunnymen) got the name: The milk bar called Korova, where Alex and his droogs load up on Mesto before terrorising people at night. The milk they drank was called Moloko!! Brazil band Sepultura's "Moloko Mest"o anti-drugs song was on their record "A-lex"(the name of the main character is Alex) in fact the whole record is inspired by "A Clockwork Orange"!! (XTC's) Andy Partridge lifted the title for his compilation "Fuzzy Warbles" from Alex's condescending remark to a girl in the record store in the movie about the girl's records calling them, in fact, Fuzzy Warbles!! Also in the record store you see a sign for a band name eight-nine years ahead of its time: Heaven Seventeen!! If you are very careful you'll notice a big cardboard sign of a new label at the time of making the movie (1971)- Phonogram's progressive imprint Vertigo's label design, still impressive to this day- also known as the Swirl!!



Duran(d) Duran(d) by the way was a villain in Roger Vadim's sex/sci fi movie "Barbarella" from 1968 (oh, a Danish band called themselves Barbarella in the mid-70's!!) with a slightly (un)dressed Jane Fonda chasing this Durand Durand character. Synth group Caberet Voltaire got their name from a nightclub in Zürich, Switzerland emerging around the Dada-art movement as early as 1916! 60's British group The Searchers was named after a 1956 western movie starring John Wayne. I mentioned David Bowie in the above. The name itself: Bowie is allegedly taken from the Bowie knife. David Robert Jones changed his name in the late 60's in order not to be confused with The Monkees' singer Davy Jones. Robert Zimmerman changed to Bob Dylan via Welch poet Dylan Thomas. A more obvious name change was Andy Warhol who being a Polish immigrant to the US was named Andrew Warhola. Sting used to dress in black and yellow thus having the resemblance of the colours of a bee!! His given name is Gordon Sumner- not related to New Order's Bernard Sumner, who by the way called himself Bernard Albrecht when in Joy Division! As for Bono and The Edge of U2 you'll have to google yourself!! Television's Thomas Miller knew his name would get him nowhere in the music business and changed to the more intellectual Tom Verlaine after French poet Paul Verlaine! Well- enough of this name dropping. I hope you've had as much fun as I had researching for this blog post. I welcome you to find other connections or coincidences I have missed or left out! Should you want more of this I recommend the website www.bandnamesexplained.com.

Enjoy! PGP

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