Okay, I’m bored. My training is over for the season, and it’s raining outside. I was running on the treadmill, listening to my shuffled music playlist and thinking about the names of the bands that I was listening to: Judas Priest. The Babys. Foreigner. So I started thinking which names were just bad and which names were bad ass. Then I thought there are too many names out there to list, so I decided to rank the names of the groups that have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Although I did give a pass to a couple of bands with proper names, I immediately dismissed singular artists and those who went by their names from this list. Although the Jimi Hendrix Experience might be one of the most bad ass names out there, I am choosing not to use proper names. These bands didn’t choose the name, it was given and they probably couldn’t think of a cool name on their own, or they had the “all about me” attitude. So forget Elton John, Billy Joel, and Bruce Springsteen. It’s my list, go make your own. I also omitted back up bands that were second to the main star, such as The Comets, The Crickets, and The Four Seasons.
I ranked them not by how musical they are, or how much I like the band. If that was the case the list would be 1. Rush, 2. Styx (not in the HoF, I know. They’re in mine.) – but more about how I feel the name conveys the spirit of the group. I have tried to include an explanation of the name, which can make their ranking better or worse in some cases. Special consideration is given to how rock and roll the name is. And mostly if it really is bad ass.
Remember, this isn’t about the band or their music – just their names. This might be the most useless list of all time. I probably wasted five hours on this dumb list. I had fun with it though.
FROM WORST TO BEST – MY RANKING OF ROCK AND ROLL GROUP NAMES FROM GROUPS INDUCTED INTO THE ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF FAME
Now for the really bad. The Worst Name Goes to…
85 – THE STOOGES – Year after year my favorite band Rush was passed over, and these guys get in way before them?! I can’t even think of a single song that these dopes even sang. They do absolutely nothing for me, and the fact that it sounds like they ripped off the name from the Three Stooges really pisses me off! WORST NAME ON MY LIST, BOYS. P.S. YOU SUCK!
84 – N.W.A. – W.T.F.? Not rock and roll. Hate the genre, hate the name, hate the fact they are in the HoF.
83 – THE MOONGLOWS – Never heard of them, typical 1950’s era singing group name. At least they aren’t N.W.A.
82 – THE BLUE CAPS – I never heard of these guys either, but I have learned that a whole lot of awesome musicians were inspired by this early rock and roll back up band. The name is a bottom feeder.
81 – THE FAMOUS FLAMES – Never heard of them. Have you heard of James Brown? He got his start here.
80 – THE FLAMINGOS – Inspired by flamingos, apparently. I’m uninspired.
79 – THE DELLS – Not sure of the origin of the name, but the band hailed from Harvey, Illinois.
78 – THE RONETTES – “Ette” anything is uninspiring. Inspired Eddie Money, though.
77 – THE SHIRELLES – Shirley = Shirelles.
76 – RUN-DMC – Again, not rock and roll. Just nicknames.
75 – THE COASTERS – The story is they went from coast to coast.
74 – THE IMPRESSIONS – Sorry, they never left one on me.
73 – THE COMETS – These guys produced the music for Bill Haley, who took all the credit. Not sure why the RnR HoF gave them their own induction.
72 – THE CRICKETS – Buddy Holly’s band. Named for the insect that seems to them to be the most musical. I guess they carried on without Buddy.
71 – SEX PISTOLS – Okay, I’m not going to even look this one up. I don’t want to know. Very punk rock though. I should probably rank them higher, but screw punk rock.
70 – TRAFFIC – They got the idea from watching cars drive by. Boring activity, boring name.
69 – LOVIN’ SPOONFUL – A nod to heroin?! Yikes. In reality, it came from a song lyric by some guy named John Hurt. Do you believe in magic?
68 – THE HOLLIES – Must have thought the world of Buddy Holly. A lot of those in the HoF did.
67 – THE MAMAS AND THE PAPAS – Folkies, whom I would have guessed the Mamas portion of the name came from Mama Cass. But I guess the Hell’s Angels referred to their female companions as “mamas.” Why they would honor that, who knows.
66 – JACKSON 5 – They were the Jackson’s and there was five of them. One was named Michael, I believe.
65 – THE YARDBIRDS – I would have guessed they added “yard” to the “birds” to differentiate themselves from The Byrds, but I guess it referred to hobos hanging out along the rail yard. That little fact alone moves it up a little higher on the chart for me.
64 – THE VENTURES – Suggested by one of the band member’s mother. Negative points for that, dudes. Hawaii 5-0 is legendary though.
63 – THE BAND – When Dylan switched to electric guitar, it pissed off the critics. The Band worked with Dylan at that time and apparently the band known as “The Hawks” were snubbed by the critics, referring to them as just “the band.” Uninspiring name, but they have their devotees.
62 – U2 – Most assume it has to do the spy plane, but apparently Bono says it was about interacting with the audience, as in “you too.” Okay, Bono.
61 – THE POLICE – I couldn’t confirm this, but apparently Stewart Copeland’s dad was in the CIA, and he suggested the name. Great band, boring name.
60 – THE BEACH BOYS – These California boys were supposed to be the embodiment of the beach lifestyle. In reality, none of them knew how to surf. But they nailed the culture for sure.
59 – THE O’JAYS – Named themselves after a popular Cleveland disc jockey.
58 – THE PLATTERS – The name defines the 50’s era groups.
57 – THE DRIFTERS – Apparently, a lot of members drifted in and out of this band.
56 – RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS – They’re red, they’re hot, yada yada yada.
55 – THE (YOUNG) RASCALS – They wanted to be called “The Rascals” but another group called “Harmonica Rascals” said to stop it, so their manager added the “Young” part. I wonder whatever happened to the “Harmonica Rascals?” Actually, I don’t care.
54 – PARLIMENT FUNKADELIC – Basically a combo of two groups, but I don’t care where the name comes from, the name fits the band.
53 – ABBA – The name comes from the first initials of each of the band members: Agnetha, Benny, Bjorn, and Anni-Frid. Is it Ah-baa, or AB-a? I’ll never get it right.
52 – GREEN DAY – Pot plays a roll in this one. No kidding. Originally they called themselves “Sweet Children.” Green Day is a reference to Billie Joe’s first pot experience. Okay.
51 – THE SMALL FACES/FACES – We have small faces, lets go with that!
50 – THE DOORS – Typical of 1960’s era bands, it seems like they just said “Hey, there’s a door! Let’s roll with that.” But actually it came from a book called “The Doors of Perception,” which had some sort of trippy meaning. Far out, man.
49 – CREAM – They considered themselves the cream of the crop. I guess.
48 – NIRVANA – “I wanted a name that was kind of beautiful or nice and pretty instead of a mean, raunchy punk name like the Angry Samoans.” – Kurt Cobain. Talk about taking people by surprise.
47 – TALKING HEADS – A friend of Tina Weymouth’s suggested the name.
The names are getting a little better…
46 – EAGLES – In Steve Martin’s biography he mentions that Glen Frey (I think) was a friend and was starting a band called “Eagles.” Steve questions it and inquires if he means “The Eagles”. Frey was adamant about it just being Eagles. I’m with Steve.
45 – BUFFALO SPRINGFIELD – Took the name from a steam roller parked on a roadway.
44 – R.E.M. – They had some really bad name ideas prior to Stipe randomly picking the name from a dictionary. Thank god. Previous suggestions of “Can of Piss” and “Negro Wives” probably were not in their best interests.
43 – BEASTIE BOYS – My thoughts on the Rock and Roll HoF are that it should only include true rock and roll artists, but that line isn’t clear cut anymore. And even though I kind of dismissed this band as being rap-crap, it’s rap-crap with a rock and roll attitude.
42 – ALICE COOPER – Wait a minute! I know I said no proper names! But who we all assume to be Alice was really Vincent Furnier. Originally they called themselves the Spiders, but decided to change their name from something obvious to something a little more “old lady-ish” to have more shock value, according to Vincent – oops, I mean Alice.
41 – BLONDIE – Pretty obvious that the name comes from Deborah Harry’s bleached out hair. Got into the HoF on the strength of what, two songs? Gimme a break.
40 – GUNS N’ ROSES – Shouldn’t it be Guns ‘n’ Roses? I always heard it was a combo of the names of L.A. Guns Tracii Guns and Axl Rose’s names. This is a band that makes me immediately change the radio station. I’m not sure why. I bought the first album and liked it. Just got sick of it. But the name defines the hard rocking Hair Band era.
39 – PUBLIC ENEMY – Again, not a fan of non-rock and roll. But a pretty good name.
38 – CHICAGO – These guys went from calling themselves the “Big Thing” to “Chicago Transit Authority,” who quickly ordered them to cease and desist. They shortened it to Chicago, playing homage to their city. I’m surprised old man Daley didn’t tell them to knock it off too.
37 – AC/DC – The Young boys got the name from the back of their sister’s sewing machine that was labeled AC/DC. She sewed Angus’s school boy uniform for him. They thought that reflected the power of their sound. Later they were bit embarrassed to find out that it also meant being bisexual.
36 – THE PRETENDERS – Apparently took the name from the song “The Great Pretender” from fellow inductees The Platters.
35 – STEELY DAN – Are you ready for this? It came from a name of a dildo in some book. Dan was Steely, for sure. I would have ranked them higher if it wasn’t for the dildo thing
34 – CREEDENCE CLEARWATER REVIVAL – John Fogerty had a friend named Creedence Nuball, and the Clearwater part came from a beer advertisement. The Revival was a nod to the numerous changes the band had gone through. It’s a mouthful, but CCR is all you need to say.
33 – KISS – This was the band of my preteen years. I had every album. The best part of the name is the logo. One of the best logos ever.
32 – QUEEN – I took several years of me listening to this band to understand the reference. And I was shocked when it was announced that Freddie had AIDS. Certainly rock royalty.
31 – HEART – Started as Hocus Pocus and White Heart and dropped the unnecessary parts. Great band. Definitely defines the spirit of the Wilson sisters. I hear they are fighting and not talking to each other. Maybe should rename themselves “Broken Heart.”
30 – THE BYRDS – The Birds would probably be at the bottom of the list. Changing the “i” to a “y” = genius. Actually, they were just following what the Beatles did.
29 – FLEETWOOD MAC – I’m giving another pass to a group name consisting of proper names. The drummer isn’t named Fleetwood Mac, or Mac Fleetwood. His name is Mick Fleetwood, and his buddy was bassist John McVie, aka Mac. Apparently Peter Green who was the guitarist in the group at the time coined the name to keep them from leaving.
28 – YES – A simple positive name that was supposed to be temporary. It stuck. One of the best band logos ever.
27 – ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA – From what I can gather, a “light” orchestra was just that, a small group of string instruments. And ELO electrified that concept.
26 – THE ANIMALS – Given the name thanks to their wild stage performances. Easy there, tiger.
25 – THE TEMPTATIONS – This group may own the record for most “previously known as” group names. Another iconic name.
24 – THE SUPREMES – Staked their claim to girl group rock royalty with that name. This list isn’t about my favorite groups, remember?
23 – THE WHO – Apparently they were already going deaf from how loud they played that they couldn’t hear the suggestions of friends. The who? Yes, that’s right. Whatever the name, they should be on Mount Rockmore with the Beatles and Stones.
22 – JOURNEY – They tried a radio contest to name the band, but didn’t click with any of the suggestions. They went from “Golden Gate Rhythm Section” (horrible) to Journey after one of their roadies suggested it. Their “journey’ took them from jazz fusion/prog rock to arena rock kings.
21 – EARTH, WIND & FIRE – A couple of the band member’s zodiac signs had influence on the name. I think it conveys their music pretty well.
20 – PEARL JAM – If I get this wrong, I’m going to hear about it from a buddy. They loved basketball player Mookie Blaylock for some reason, and originally called themselves that. Avoiding possible legal issues they changed it to Pearl and added Jam. Eddie Vedder had a great-grandmother named Pearl, and the Jam part I read came from attending a Neil Young concert in which he “jammed” on stage. I dunno. Cool name though. I should rank them higher, but my buddy dissed the Barenaked Ladies once. There has to be some punishment for that.
19 – JEFFERSON AIRPLANE – One of the members had a friend who gave out silly nick names. The nickname “Blind Thomas Jefferson Airplane” was shortened. I’m guessing they jumped on the sci-fi bandwagon of the late 70’s to change Airplane to Starship. Both are unique and interesting, and fit the styles of music the band was playing at the time.
18 – THE CLASH – Inspired from newspaper articles referring to news about clashes in current events. The name fits the band.
17 – DEEP PURPLE – Ritchie Blackmore’s grandmother liked a Bing Crosby song called “Deep Purple.” No lie. I looked it up.
16 – THE VELVET UNDERGROUND – The name comes from a book about “the secret sexual subculture” of the 1960’s. Whatever. Cool name though.
15 – THE BEATLES – I get it, they got the beat. Actually, they pretty much defined where rock and roll was at and where it was going. For the early 1960’s, it was spot on.
14 – GENESIS – The band shortened the name from “Genesis to Revelation.” I’m glad they did.
13 – THE GRATEFUL DEAD – I never got this band or their popularity, but the name is super cool. Apparently chosen by Jerry Garcia from a dictionary.
12 – THE KINKS – A huge part of the British Invasion, and one that left a mark. Great name. It probably pissed off a lot of Archie Bunker types with baby boomer daughters.
11 – METALLICA – For someone who liked hard rock, I never clicked with these guys at their start. But the name exemplifies BAD ASS.
And now for the Top Ten…
10 – PINK FLOYD – By the way, which one is Pink? Actually Pink is Pink Anderson and Floyd was Floyd Council, two blues artists that Sid Barrett had records of. Was called “The Pink Floyd Sound” for a while, and apparently David Gilmour occasionally refers to the band as “The Pink Floyd.” Iconic rock name.
9 – LED ZEPPELIN – Keith Moon was said to react to the formation of this band with how he thought it would go over. I guess he was wrong.
8 – CHEAP TRICK – Apparently they took in a Slade concert and Tom Petersson commented that they used every “cheap trick” in their show. The band nails the moniker.
7 – VAN HALEN – It’s a last name, and I’m breaking my rule again. But you can shut up. Probably one of the coolest names from bands from my era.
6 – ZZ TOP – Lots of arguing over the origin of this one. Popular is the suggestion that the two most known cigarette rolling papers were Zig-Zag and Top. Makes sense. Very unique name and band.
5 – AEROSMITH – Joey Kramer thought his take on the book Arrowsmith was pretty cool. I agree.
4 – LYNYRD SKYNYRD – If you don’t know the story behind this name, shame on you. Go back to your pop, or alternative, or whatever the hell you listen to. Easy choice to be near the top.
3 – BLACK SABBATH – They started out with Earth, but got told to change it thanks to another band already using it. Geezer Butler was into black magic and the occult, and wrote the vast majority of their lyrics, so there was influence there. But they had seen a 1963 Boris Karloff filmed called “Black Sabbath” and the rest is history.
2 – THE ROLLING STONES – References to rolling stones abound in blues music. Brian Jones is credited with suggesting it, inspired by the Muddy Waters song. Maybe the most iconic rock band name ever. Maybe.
And Number One goes to…
1 – RUSH – The name was given to them by the older brother of the drummer they kicked out of the band. Classic. There was no way I was not putting my favorite band number one. It’s my list, remember?
2 thoughts on “Ranking the Rock Group Names of RnR HOF Inductees”
There are multiple stories about the name Pearl Jam. One is that Jeff Ament’s grandmother, Pearl, had a recipe for jam that had peyote in it, but they later said the story was BS. They’ve never really straightforward said how the name came about… They were all quite young when they started the band, and I think it is actually an immature meaning: semen.
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