Friday Top: 25 Best Band Names

As voted by UG community.

Ultimate Guitar
Friday Top: 25 Best Band Names

This week's traditional Wednesday Question saw the people of UG community discussing the matter of the greatest band name ever. Based on votes and more than 450 comments, we summed this one up into a Top 25 rundown.

And before kicking things off, the honorable mentions are:

  • System of a Down
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers
  • Meshuggah
  • Faith No More
  • Type O Negative
  • Deftones
  • Tenacious D
  • Marilyn Manson
  • Joy Division
  • Avenged Sevenfold
  • Animanls as Leaders
  • AC/DC
  • Pearl Jam
  • Oedipus Rex & the Motherfuckers
  • The The
  • A Perfect Circle
  • Megadeth
  • Motörhead
  • Sonic Youth
  • Sadgasm

The full rundown awaits below.

25. Nirvana

The well known band Nirvana was formed back in 1987 by Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselic. Before starting Nirvana, Cobain formed some smaller bands with various names, one of them being Fecal Matter. Luckily, he later on found a more appropriate name for his band, and explained in 1992 (via

"I wanted a name that was kind of beautiful or nice and pretty instead of a mean, raunchy punk name like the Angry Samoans."

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24. Muse

Such a simple yet amazing and unique name for a band. UG user doive explained it quite well:

"Can't believe in 50 years of rock music no-one had come up with this one given it's so simple!"

The name of the band was suggested by Samuel Theoun, who was Matthew Bellamy's art teacher. Also, they really liked that it was short and that it would look nice on a poster. (via

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23. Iron Maiden

Legendary British band Iron Maiden was formed in 1975 by bassist Steve Harris. As Harris stated, he got an idea for the name after watching "The Man in the Iron Mask" movie, and was reminded of the medieval torturing device.

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22. King Crimson

Progressive rockers King Crimson were formed back in 1968, and the name was an idea of the band's early member and lyricist Peter Sinfield. He explained (via whynameitthat):

"The name King Crimson was mine. I wanted something like Led Zeppelin, something with a bit of power to it. Anything better than Giles, Giles, and Fripp. King Crimson had arrogance to it."

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21. Nine Inch Nails

According to the band's mastermind Trent Reznor, the name Nine Inch Nails has no specific meaning, it just "abbreviated easily." Although there are some other interesting rumors, including the one which says that it represents the crucifixion of Jesus with nine-inch speakers.

And no Eferre, it's not a penis.

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20. The Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza

"That's a name you won't soon forget," commented user Parthan. This catchy name is kind of unusual for a mathcore, grindcore, avant-garde metal band. The guys named their band after the actor Tony Danza. And it happened in their earlier days that some old ladies went to their shows expecting to see Tony Danza himself. Imagine their faces when they heard this...

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19. Gojira

The French metallers were first named Godzilla, but then in 2001 changed to Gojira, which is actually the original pronunciation of the well known Japanese fictional monster.

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18. Queens of the Stone Age

Josh Homme formed Queens of the Stone Age after leaving Kyuss. The band was first named Gamma Ray, but after the German power metal band of the same name threatened with legal action the name was changed to the one the band has today. Queens of the Stone Age was a nickname of Kyuss, given by their then producer Chriss Goss.

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17. Pink Floyd

Legendary Pink Floyd was formed back in 1965 by Roger Waters, Nick Mason, Syd Barrett, and Richard Wright. They first called themselves Pink Floyd Sound, which was Barrett's idea. The name comes form two blues musicians Pink Anderson and Floyd Council.

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16. Rammstein

Rammstein is quite a powerful sounding name. However, almost anything in German sounds powerful. The band originally called themselves Rammstein-Flugschau, after the Ramstein air show disaster which happened in 1988, and the extra "m" was actually a spelling mistake. Later on, as they became more popular, they denied that the name has anything to do with the disaster, and claimed that it's actually after giant doorstop-type devices on old gates, which are named Rammsteine. The literal translation of the name is "ramming stone."

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15. The Rolling Stones

One spot in front of the Ramming Stones come in The Rolling Stones. According to Keith Richards, one of the founding members Brian Jones actually gave them the name during a phone call with "Jazz News" magazine. When asked for a band name, Jones just glanced at the Muddy Waters record on the floor, and one of the songs was named "Rollin' Stone." The rest is history.

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14. The Be Sharps

Well, we need at least one fictional band to check out from time to time. The Be Sharps was formed by our beloved "Simpsons" characters Homer Simpson, Seymour Skinner, Apu Nahasapeemapetilon and Chief Wiggum. They were first mentioned in an episode titled "Homer's Barbershop Quartet." Here is how the show looks at The Grammys, taken from that particular episode:

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13. Dream Theater

The band was formed in 1985 by the one and only Jon Petrucci, along with Jon Myung and Mike Portnoy. Their first name was Majesty, which they had to change because another band from Las Vegas had the same name. There were many ideas for their new name, and then Mike Portnoy's father proposed the name of the small theater in California, Dream Theater.

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12. Butthole Surfers

On the band's first payed concert, the announcer couldn't remember their name and called them after one of their songs, "Butthole Surfer." After that, the official name Butthole Surfers stuck with them ever since.

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11. The Who

After spending the whole night with his roomate, guitarist Pete Townshend suggested one of the names they came up with to Roger Daltrey. And Daltrey simply liked name The Who the most. Really simple and good sounding.

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10. Led Zeppelin

One of the remarks that drummer Keith Moon made was that the potential new band with Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck would fly like a "lead balloon," implying that it would end badly. The letter "a" was removed so that people wouldn't pronounce the name as "leed," and instead of "balloon" they put the word "zeppelin." And thus the Led Zeppelin.

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9. Alice in Chains

Before Alice In Chains, Layne Staley had his own glam metal band Alice N' Chains. During their short career they considered taking up Alice In Chains, but were worried of potential refferences to female bondage. After this band broke up, Staley, along with guitarist Jerry Cantrell, formed a band and they used the potential name of the singers previous band.

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8. Audioslave

Audioslave was formed in 2001 by Chris Cornell, along with Rage Against the Machine's Tom Morello, Brad Wilk, and Tim Commerford. They originally considered the name Civilian, but it was already taken. However, according to Morello these were only rumors. The guitarist stated that this name simply came to Cornell. Even though there was already a band in England called Audioslave, Cornell and his new band bought the name from them for $30,000. Even though it is a simple and good sounding name, it received some negative critics, even calling it dumb.

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7. Metallica

Lars Ulrich and his friend were comming up with the name back in the early 1980s for Lars' newly formed band. His friend suggested MetalMania and Metallica, and the latter one was chosen. According to a popular belief, the word "Metallica" itself didn't exist before the band. However, user rw24643 provided an interesting source on the matter. You can read more about that here.

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6. Rage Against the Machine

The name comes from the song Zach de la Rocha written for his previous band Inside Out. Kent McClard, who was associated with this band, was the one to come up with the phrase "rage against the machine" in one of his articles.

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5. King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard

This one is a bit of a tongue twister. The Australian psychedelic rockers got together in 2010, and was originally formed as a jam band. The name came as a last minute solution. Stu Mackenzie wanted to name it Gizzard Gizzard, while another member had an idea to reference the nickname of the legendary The Doors vocalist Jim Morrison, by using his nickname Lizzard King. So they mashed it up and got King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard.

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4. Mastodon

UG user nadeau221094 explains Mastodon's name very well:

"I always felt Mastodon really captures the sound and essence of the band."

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3. Soundgarden

The band was formed by Chris Cornell back in 1984, and the name was inspired by a wind channeling public art work located next to the Lake Washington in Seattle, WA. The piece of art is simply titled "A Sound Garden."

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2. Black Sabbath

The legendary heavy metal pioneers Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, Bill Ward and Ozzy Osbourne formed The Polka Tulk Blues Band, along with guitarist Jimmy Phillips and saxophonist Alan Clarke. The well known quartet later on played under the name Earth, but had to change it due to another band under the same name. At the time, Italian horror movie "I tre volti della paura" (The Three Faces of Fear) was shown in cinemas in Great Britain under the name "Black Sabbath." So one day Geezer made a remark about how people pay to see scary movies, so why wouldn't they pay to hear scary music? They soon came up with the song "Black Sabbath" which had a completely different musical and lyrical style than anything else they did before. So they changed the name of the band, and gave birth to heavy metal.

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1. Anal Cunt

And at the top of this week's list, as voted by the UG community... Well, this one is not very polite. Anal Cunt, also known as A.C. and AxCx, is a grindcore band formed in 1988. Vocalist Seth Putnam just wanted to give his band the most offensive name possible. So he came up with Anal Cunt. Many of the band's lyrics were criticized for being offensive on so many levels. They were even accused of nazism, homophobia, misogyny and many other things. However, they were able to show their sensitive side on their 1998 album "Picnic Of Love."

In 2011 Putnam passed away and the band automatically ended.

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That's all folks! Feel free to post more great band names in the comment section below. And we hope you enjoyed the top, stay tuned until next week for another WQ!

89 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Next Wednesday Question: Worst band names ever?
    Kinda surprised Slayer didn't get more votes. Expected more from the fanboys. Probably too busy listening to Slayer.
    Very nice to see king gizzard and the lizard Wizard and butthole surfers on the list. King Gizzard is one of the best psych bands I ever heard from Australia. They definately beat tame impalas newer stuff.
    I love everyone's reaction after you say "The name of the band is King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard". 
    The first time i stumbled across the band on youtube while drunk i was laughing my ass off at the name and couldn't believe such a stupid name for a band. It's so stupid it's good. I just assumed they came up with it while on drugs but there is a backstory to the name I guess.
     Same with "The Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza", I still laugh every time their name is brought up
    Good list. Right mix of humor and quality! Hiatus Kaiyote got snubbed, but I think they just aren't well known enough.
    Haha yes, I was hoping Anal Cunt would come first. Can´t get any better than this!
    the band name Anal Cunt was not funny to me when i was 15. Now i am a bit older and i understand...some people laugh at stupid f*cking things. It's not because they are dumb, just because that's what they find funny
    Van Halen doesn't even get an honourable mention? It's the last name of two if it's founding members plus it also just sounds cool to say.
    And they probably have the best looking logo of all time. The VH II logo is just so classic and beautiful.
    That Metallica fact isn't quite correct. Lars' friend, Ron Quintana, was starting a heavy metal fanzine. He had the names Metallica and Metal Mania, he then asked Lars which name he should use for his magazine. Lars said Metal Mania because he loves Metallica so much he wanted it for his own.
    Panic at the disco? I mean, not the actual band, but the actual name is awesome!
    Disappointed to see AC/DC as honorable mention only but seeing Anal Cunt as number one made up for it.
    nothing about Tool's new album?   
    I heard is 90% done, and also that they haven't start recording. Someone also said that they are in studio and some days after (or before) someone said that they haven't started yet... who knows?
    cool thanks... I was pretty much joking about how UG talks about the tool album a lot.  Even in stories that have nothing to do with it!
    Dumb that a band that went out of its way to shock with a vulgar name won.   All you suckers fell for it.  Way to go.
    Not a huge fan, but Kings of Leon should be at least mentioned. Brothers whos Dad was named Leon, thats pretty fuckin rad.
    No UFO? - They used it before UFOs werent on every tv station everyday and a million phony people hadn't claimed to abducted yet.   No Primus? -  Originally known as "Primates" Primus is not only a band name it's a musical genre....."How would you define or categorize Primus?"...."I dunno, it's just Primus".
    Death needed a mention, I mean the name is DEATH, pretty fuckin iconic.  plus chuck was the most bad ass metal man ever
    I always thought "The Doors" has some interesting meaning to it. Based on an essay by Aldous Huxley called "The Doors of Perception" which takes it's name from a Willian Blake poem "The Marriage of Heaven and Hell"  The Doors of Perception is about Huxleys experiences while taking Mescaline, which is the active hallucinogenic drug in Peyote. 
    Reznor on the NIN name  :   "It really doesn’t have any literal meaning. It seemed kind of frightening. [In his best he-man voice] Tough and manly! It’s a curse trying to come up with band names.”   --> Tough and manly ! + nine inch = 22 cm Come on !
    I remember reading somewhere that Nine Inch Nails came from an interview with Al Jourgensen of Ministry where he said something along the lines of "Listening to Ministry is like having a nine inch nail hammered into your head like a hole." 
    Actually, "Muse" has been around and in use long before current megaband Muse found worldwide fame with it.  I know of at least two other bands that have used the name. I saw one of them get literally laughed and booed off the stage at The Electric Factory in Philadelphia back in '96 or '97 when they attempted to open up for...  Collective Soul, maybe (CS was still a pretty big band back then).  The singer reminded me of a long haired, blonde Perry Farrel in the androgynous way he spoke and acted.  He cried at the mic and called the crowd's reaction to them "hurtful".  Then he sniffled, "I can't do this", and walked off the stage. When I first heard about Muse getting big, I thought that for sure this can't be the same Muse that only lasted a handful of songs that night in Philly.  Thankfully, it isn't.
    Thankfully no "Verb the Noun" names on here.  I'm automatically turned off to any band with that sort of name.  Traverse the Abyss is the latest I heard of, and I'm irrationally turned off by them simply because the company vehicle at work is a Chevy Traverse, and I hate that car.  Also, The Abyss was a kickass movie, but that's neither here nor there...
    I can't believe Godsmack isn't listed. I remember hearing on the radio during a survey contest a few years ago that it was one of the best and unique band names.