Thursday, 26 February 2009

What's in a Name?


Sometimes I sit here wondering what the hell I’m going to write about next and then, usually after a long walk, I have a Mr Micawber moment and something turns up. Actually, this time around, it was Mr Micawber himself who turned up.

It was whilst I was listening to ‘American Thighs’ by 90s grunge merchants, Veruca Salt that it occurred to me that various bands have stolen, sorry, borrowed their names from fictional characters, Veruca Salt being the spoilt brat in Roald Dahl’s ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’. So once this train of thought was chugging along nicely, fuelled by a few chocolate biscuits, several others revealed themselves. The obvious one following the Micawber principle is Dickens’ Uriah Heep from ‘David Copperfield’ (an acquaintance of Mr Micawber himself, I understand) who became the moniker for a bunch of 1970s heavy metallers who were well known to my peers at school if the preponderance of their album covers about the place was any guide.

At the other end of the musical scale sits the acoustic based band, Belle and Sebastian, 1990s indie favourites whose name is an Anglicised version of a children’s book by French author, C├ęcile Aubry. It seems that not only books have been plundered but also films and musicals. New romanticists, Duran Duran based their name on the mad scientist from the fantasy film, Barbarella (hmm...wonder why I remember that one) and recent indie-kid turned presenter, Lauren Laverne once fronted an outfit called Kenickie, pinched from a character in the musical ‘Grease’.

A far madder and convoluted idea is to call yourself after a cartoon character from a fantasy film based around real people, but what possessed Robert Smith (Cure) and Steve Severin (Banshees) to team up under the badge of The Glove from the Beatles’ ‘Yellow Submarine’ is perhaps open to much debate at the next psychologists convention.

Filching names from fiction is all very well, but it doesn’t stop there. Step forward prog-rockers Jethro Tull who have assumed the identity of a real live agriculturalist and seed-drill inventor, er...Jethro Tull (1674 – 1741). Perhaps more subtly, ex-banana Siobhan Fahey and Marcella Detroit teamed up under the (presumably) assumed identity of ‘Shakespears Sister’ thus side-stepping any identity theft of the Bard himself, but using his proximity.

Aren’t names fascinating? Pass the chocolate biscuits and I’ll see if I can come up with any more.

5 comments:

Seano said...

How about John Wesley Harding, Twiggy Ramirez and Marilyn Manson, Pink Floyd(Anderson, Council),Alice Cooper(maybe),Steely Dan(dildo from a Burroughs book) for a few.

Seano said...

Great blog BTW, found you through Laylas page. Seano

musicobsessive said...

Hi Seano, welcome to my blog! You've obviously been thinking about this - some great additions to the list.

Jayne said...

I am glad someone else also finds chocolate biscuits a great source of inspiration. They never fail, and their power is doubled if taken with a cup of tea.

So, having fortified myself with the above, didn't Adam Ant take his name from a character on television? And Level 42 were named in an obscure way after the answer to 'life, the universe and everything' in the book The Hitch-hikers Guide to the Galaxy.

musicobsessive said...

Hi Jayne. What a literary audience I seem to have! Is there no end to their talents?

And I'm glad to see that the nucleus of a chocolate biscuit club is beginning to form - my favs are the timeless choc digestive (even the low fat variety).