From Ringo Deathstarr to Joanna Gruesome, there’s been a real surge these last few years in bands turning to punny wordplay for monikers. Here’s 21 – some hilarious, some horrendously cringey…
There’s been a real surge in bands these last few years turning to puns for band names. Some are wittily subverse spins on household names and pop culture icons. Others are straight up abysmal. Here’s 21 of our favourites, starting with Ringo Deathstarr. Combining Star Wars and The Beatles into one? The wordplay force is truly strong with these Texan rockers.
Stockwell rapper and producer Joseph Ellis-Stevenson didn’t have to look far for a name – he just turned right at the Elephant and Castle and headed for fictional Walford, assembling a portmanteau of Eastender Dot Cotton and her black hearted stinking son, Nick! Nive work, Dot Rotten.
In life ‘the Big O’ Roy Orbison suffered great tragedy – his wife was killed in a motorbike accident and two of his children died in a fire a few years later. Hopefully funky garage DJ Peter O’Grady – aka Joy Orbison – isn’t tempting similar deathly misfortune with his punny stage moniker.
As puns in this gallery go, Skam Records crew Wevie Stonder‘s name errs towards the tenuous – I mean come on guys, what’s a Stonder? If the electronica collective were hellbent on punning the name Stevie, then how about Nevie Sticks? What do you mean you don’t know what a Nevie is? It’s a, erm, it’s a… it’s harder than it looks this cunning punning wordplay.
5Camper Van Beethoven
Everything about Camper Van Beethoven‘s portmanteau says classic, from the wheels to the 18th century German composer. Formed in 1983, the band split at the end of the 80s, though they reformed in ‘99 and are still spluttering on, a bit like a trusty old VW splitscreen.
Chet Faker would be a neat tribute act name in dedication to the trumpeting great from the ’50s, but the lauded Australian electronica musician sounds nothing like his near namesake, Chet Baker. Pour enough HP sauce on him and he’ll taste just the same though – well it works with Fakin’ Bacon anyway…
Something spooky is going on with the names of Ghostbusting actors and alternative bands. First up there was Glasgow indie six-piece Dananananaykroyd giving Dan Ackroyd the weird name treatment, then came Mill Burray (a Bill Murray spoonerism) too. Who you gonna call? Samaritans probably.
1920s-born American novelist Truman Capote is the first celebrated luminarie in this gallery to have his name playfully turned into a naughty drug reference, courtesy of Whitehaus rockers Truman Peyote. He won’t be the last.
9The Dead Kennedys
The Dead Kennedys rhymes with Ted Kennedy, the only Kennedy brother who wasn’t actually dead at the time when the American hardcore punk pioneers formed in 1979. They could hardly have picked a more inflammatory name, so job well done then! Thankfully the music lived up to the controversy.
10The Dandy Warhols
Portland, Oregon’s The Dandy Warhols’ preposterously funny punny name certainly helped get the band noticed, and it’s a testimony to the music that their fame lasted for more than 15 minutes.
11Brian Jonestown Massacre
Forever woven together with the Dandy Warhols thanks to the movie Dig!, Brian Jonestown Massacre were actually formed way back in 1990, and the fact founder member Anton Newcombe manages to keep going in spite of all the tribulations that life throws at him suggests he’s got some of that Rolling Stones grit. But not the one he named the band after.
You would have thought that taking a name like Harmonica Lewinsky would have been a stain on their career, but the old time blues band have blown their way into the consciousness of many thanks to their penchant for a pisspoor pun.
13Kathleen Turner Overdrive
If the Bachman Turner Overdrive weren’t dealt a harsh blow enough being sent up by Smashey and Nicey using ‘You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet’ as their theme music, then now they have Cleveland, Ohio rockers Kathleen Turner Overdrive taking their name in vain. And what Kathleen Turner thinks of it we can only begin to imagine…
Cardiff’s willfully obscure skuzzy pop five-piece Joanna Gruesome are certainly doing rather well given that their weird name came from another singer who is hardly a household name herself. Imagine that, a band outstripping the bigger artist that inspired their appellation? They still have some way to go before they eclipse the queen of twee though.
Com Truise: This is less a pun and more a spoonerism inspired by diminutive film superstar Tom Cruise. The American electronic musician should beware, though – Tom has sued for far less.
It’s difficult to say whether Dread Zeppelin were a work of fried brain genius or just plain wrong. Fronted by a 20-stone Las Vegas Elvis impersonator, they played the songs of Led Zeppelin in a reggae style. As you do.
As ballsy names go, Cerebral Ballzy is up there with the best of them – or worst, depending on your stance on making light of debilitating neurological diseases. Oh Honor Titus, you edgy handsome so-and-so.
18Dennis Hopper Choppers
Dennis Hopper was a big screen anti-hero as well as one celluloids’ most famous bikers on acid (alongside Peter Fonda), so it makes sense that a band bad to the bone would want to bask in his reputation. Step forward Dennis Hopper Choppers.
You remember when we told you there’d be another pun with a drug reference in it? The ‘DMT’ in Run DMT is short for dimethyltryptamine which will get you off your bollocks when vaped at 332.1°C apparently. You won’t be doing much running after that.
Sigmund Droid might be the droids you’re looking for if you like noisy grunge duos from Brooklyn named after the godfather of psychoanalysis and the man who coined the term ‘the Oedipus Complex’. Which we do.
Michelle Shocked made her name towards the end of the 80s as a lefty feminist folk singer, but she more than shocked an audience at a gig in the gay heartland of San Francisco last year when she apparently delivered a bizarre, homophobic rant in the name of Jesus. Michelle’s bells!