5 The Electric Prunes
The name for this 1960s psychedelic rock group, who sang the song “I Had Too Much to Dream (Last Night),” started out as a complete joke. The band was in the process of recording and had a long list of possible band names. The members put The Electric Prunes on the list as a joke. Electric prune was the punchline to a silly joke about grapes that starts with “What is purple and goes buzz?” The group’s producer also happened to be working with the Rolling Stones and showed the list to Mick Jagger. He pointed out the last name to demonstrate what a bunch of fools the other band was, but Jagger said he actually liked the name.
4 The Holy Modal Rounders
This obscure but influential acid folk group produced arty and surreal music during the 1960s and 1970s. Based in New York City, the group had two permanent members: Peter Stampfel and Steve Weber. Originally calling themselves the Total Quintessence Stomach Pumpers, the group went through several options until they settled on Total Modal Rounders, but one of their friends was stoned and called them the Holy Modal Rounders by mistake.
3 ZZ Top
The blues and rock band from Houston, Texas, named ZZ Top became a household name with hits such as “Legs,” “Sharp Dressed Man,” “Tush,” and “Gimme All Your Lovin’.” However, no one really knew what the name meant. Some theorized that the name was a combination of Zig Zags and Top, two popular brands of rolling paper. Other explanations include a story that the band members went to a place called Pizza Stop but the letters P, I, A and S were out on the neon sign. However, in his autobiography, band member Billy Gibbons finally sets the record straight. The name came about as a tribute to blues musicians B.B. King and Texas act Z.Z. Hill. Gibbons said were about to name themselves Z.Z. King but changed it because it was too similar. They chose Top because B.B. King was the top blues musician of the time.
2 Butthole Surfers
The Butthole Surfers are widely remembered for not only their 1996 number-one hit “Pepper,” but also their rude and offensive name. The band originally performed under a different name at every show, taking such names as Ashtray Babyheads and Ed Asner Is Gay. At a concert one night, one of the promoters forgot the name they were performing under and called them instead by one of their song titles, “Butthole Surfers.” The unusual name stuck.
1 Neutral Milk Hotel
Neutral Milk Hotel is an indie rock band from Athens, Georgia, that was active from the mid- to late ’90s. The band released two albums but is best known for the 1998 release “In The Aeroplane Over the Sea.” However, just as the band reached its peak of its popularity, they took an unexpected 15-year hiatus, which ended in 2013 when the band announced a new tour. As far as the unique band name, front man Jeff Mangum has not offered any explanations of its meaning. Before starting the band, though, Mangum recorded under the name Milk but abandoned the moniker because it was already taken.
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