The short answer: randomly and chaotically, similar to string theory. Bands have long been known for their silly, outrageous, and sometimes plain dumb names. Every name comes with a story, yet some stories are better than others. Read on to see where many famous bands got their pseudonyms from.

ZZ Top's Dusty Hill and Billy Gibbons
The two famous beards from ZZ Top; Left to Right Dusty Hill and Billy Gibbons. Frank Beard not pictured. Credit: Mark Metcalfe, Getty Images.

ZZ Top

This Texas trio formed in 1969 (or 1970, depending on who you ask). Their name comes from numerous places. Their appreciation with Zig-Zag and Top cigarette rolling papers, a tribute to the blues legend Z.Z. Hill, or a random vision by one of the  members. Probably a combination of all three.

Blind Melon
Blind Melon during a 2008 benefit concert. From left to right: Glen Graham, Brad Smith, Roger Stevens, Christopher Thorn and Travis Warren. Credit: Frederick M. Brown, Getty Images

Blind Melon

Of course, being out of work hippies lead them to music. A blind melon was slang for an out of work hippy, with no name being more appropriate. There is also a little influence from Blind Lemon, and old blues singer.

Phil Lesh Bob Weir and Warren Haynes of the Grateful Dead.
Phil Lesh, Bob Weir and Warren Haynes from the Grateful Dead performing at the Izod Center in 2009. Credit: Cory Schwartz, Getty Images.

Grateful Dead

This name follows the words of an old English folk tale. A traveler enters a village finding the villagers unwilling to bury their dead because he still owes people money. The traveler pays the debts and sees to a fair burial. Later in his travels, he is saved by a mysterious event - credited to the dead man's grateful spirit. (Bring out yer dead!)

Creedence Clearwater Revival in 1970
From left to right; Doug Clifford, Tom Fogerty, Stu Cook and John Fogerty. Credit: Evening Standard, Getty Images

Creedence Clearwater Revival

Legend says that they got the first part of their name from a friend of the band with the last name Creedence. It also goes that the favorite beer of one of the members was Clearwater; a beer that stopped being brewed. However, after some time the beer was being brewed again by another company, hence the Revival.

Pearl Jam 1993 MTV Music Awards
Pearl Jam in 1993 at the MTV Music Awards. Credit: Frank Micelotta, Getty Images.

Pearl Jam

According to Eddie Vedder (lead singer), they get their name from literal pearls; "taking excrement or waste and turning it into something beautiful." No word yet on where Jam comes from.


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