The phrase "lead balloon" has commonly been used to describe an ill-conceived idea, or one whose failure is both predictable and inevitable. The name then allegedly arose when Keith Moon, after being invited to drum for the band, thought the idea would go over like a "lead zeppelin"--Moon evidently modifying the common phrase after observing that zeppelin's were quite large. Reportedly Jimmy Page liked the phrase so much, he took it for the band's name. The decision to misspell it was made because they thought Americans would be stupid enough to mispronounce the word "lead."
Duran Duran said that they're named after a character in the Jane Fonda movie, Barbarella. For those of you that aren't huge perverts, Barbarella is an erotic science fiction adventure from the 1960s, assuming you'll allow us to use pretty loose definitions of "erotic" and "adventure." However, if the band had dug a little deeper into the movie, they would have found a character eight billion times better to name themselves after: Dildano.
A ‘green day’, according to Bay Area slang, is a day lounging about doing nothing but puffing marijuana. Billie Joe Armstrong wrote a song about it and liked it so much that he kicked the band’s original name – Sweet Children – into touch.
This one is a little bit complicated. The band originally were going to call themselves “Z.Z. King” in B.B. King’s honor, but then decided it was too similar to B.B. King. Aaand because B.B. King was at the “top” of the blues world, they changed it to ZZ Top.
The phrase is taken from a passage in the William Burrough's book Naked Lunch. Steely Dan is the nickname given to a giant steam-powered dildo. It gets crazier: as explained in the book, there's actually been an entire series of Steely Dans.
Foster The People
A classic example of how mishearing makes a great name. Lead singer and bandleader Mark Foster intended his bandto be called Foster & The People, but people just got it wrong. It worked though. As Foster told USA Today, “The first few shows that we played were for charities. It kind of clicked: Foster the People, that’s us.”
Fall Out Boy
Fall Out Boy was the name of a short-lived character in The Simpsons, and emerged as the favourite tag for Pete Wentz and Patrick Stump’s newborn band. They tried to rechristen themselves with a smarter name for their second gig, but as it tripped off Wentz’s tongue, a wag in the crowd shouted, “Fuck that, no, you’re Fall Out Boy!” There was no escape.
The US indie godheads found inspiration in one of those sensitive, charming nicknames that little children bandy around so carelessly. Frontman Rivers Cuomo had asthma, so his ‘friends’ called him ‘Weezer’. It’s the unshakable logic of youth. And, you know, makes a decent band name in the end, so all good.
In the early '90s, heavily influenced by The Beach Boys, Daft Punk recorded songs under the name Darlin', a nod to a Beach Boys single off their 1967 album Wild Honey. One negative review in the UK's Melody Maker described their effort as "a daft punky thrash," which first depressed the pair and then sparked the inspiration for their next project.
Known originally as the Tea Set, the band discovered they had been booked to play a show with another band of the same name.
Founder member Syd Barrett instantly combined the names of two of his favorite blues musicians, Pink Anderson and Floyd Council, to create what he originally called The Pink Floyd Sound.