You Asked, Cliffs Answered: Band Names

CliffsNotes February 10, 2015


CliffsNotes Blog Post Band Names

Band names are often obscure – what the heck does “The Beatles” mean? Who is Floyd and why is he Pink? Coldplay? Was it cold in their rehearsal space? You asked where these bands got their names, and Cliff is here to answer!

The Beatles

When John, Paul, and George first came together as a band in 1958, they called themselves The Quarry Boys. In 1960, Stuart Sutcliffe came on as bassist, and in that year, the group went through five name changes before landing on The Beatles.

All four were particularly fond of the music of Buddy Holly; Sutcliffe in particular liked his back-up group, called The Crickets, and suggested they rename their own group The Beetles. John and Stuart eventually settled on The Beatals because it contained the word Beat, which is how they described their music. That name, however, didn't last long.

During 1960, the group appeared onstage as both The Silver Beats and The Silver Beetles, until John was once introduced onstage as "Long John Silver." He didn't take kindly to that, and quickly shortened the name of the band to The Beatles, which they've been known as ever since.

Pink Floyd

Roger Waters, Nick Mason, and Richard Wright were originally part of a group that went by many names, including The Screaming Abdabs, Leonard's Lodgers, the Megadeaths, and The Tea Seat (or the T-Set). It was while they were called The Tea Set that they found themselves booked on a gig with a band that had the same name. After some quick thinking, they came up with the band name The Pink Floyd Sound, after Piedmont blues musicians Pink Anderson and Floyd Council. The Sound was soon dropped, but the definite article The stayed around until the early 70s.


You might assume that this is just a re-spelling of the title of Sinclair Lewis's novel The Arrowsmith, and when Joey Kramer originally suggested the name, that's what the other band members thought, too. But Kramer came up with the name after listening to Harry Nilsson's Aerial Ballet and then trying to come up with cool band names that had aero in them.

Coldplay took their name from the book Child's Reflections, Cold Play, a collection of poetry by Philip Horky.

The Doors derived their name from Aldous Huxley's The Doors of Perception, which in turn was taken from these lines from 18th-century poet William Blake: "If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite."

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