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Unusual 1980s Band Names – How did they get them?

Unusual 1980s Band Names – How did they get them?

Above Photo: A poster for the 1960s cult film, Nightmare in Wax. (Disclaimer: the words ‘Frozen into zombies, doomed to unbearable horrors. People puppets at the mercy of a fiendish madman’ have absolutely nothing to do with the band or any members thereof)…

As mentioned in my Punk and New Wave memoir, Bombed Out! I had the pleasure of playing bass in two of Liverpool’s most oddly named 1980s bands. The first, Pink Military Stand Alone, was apparently named after something Eric’s Club owner Roger Eagle had said in conversation.

The second was Pete Burns’ band, Nightmares in Wax.  This was already the new name for the band, which was briefly, previously and colourfully named ‘Rainbows Over Nagasaki’.

Another poster from the film.

Another poster from the film.

Former guitarist Mick Reid said: “Even before we’d organised our first band rehearsal Pete Burns had decided he no longer liked the Rainbows name so he, keyboard player Martin Healy and myself visited the book department of Lewis’s city centre store looking for inspiration. Martin found the Nightmares name in a book about horror and sci-fi B-movies. I thought it daft, but was out voted two to one.”

Nightmares further changed its name to Dead or Alive, shortly after I left in 1980.

So I was recently interested to see an article about the naming of other 1980s bands, from which I’ve taken some that are mentioned in Bombed Out! and I’ve put a link to the full article at the end.

Frankie Goes To Hollywood

Frankie Goes to Russia - sorry, Hollywood.

Frankie Goes to Russia – sorry, Hollywood.

Named after a random headline from a US magazine (the “Frankie” in question referred to Frank Sinatra).

The Guy Peelaert poster that gave the band their name.

The Guy Peelaert poster that gave the band their name.

A Flock Of Seagulls

A Flock of Seagulls, before they were famous, playing the Masonic Pub in Liverpool (Francesco Mellina).

A Flock of Seagulls, before they were famous, playing the Masonic Pub in Liverpool (Francesco Mellina).

Taken from the lyrics to “Toiler on the Sea” by The Stranglers:

We ventured overland
Fought with the aliens
The young ones used their hands
Pointed the way to a flock
A flock of seagulls!

Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark

Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark.

Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark.

The name was taken from the title of a song idea thought up by Andy McCluskey while still at school. The name was chosen so as not to be mistaken for a Punk band.

The Pretenders

The Pretenders.

The Pretenders.

Named after early rock and roll American band the Platters’ song The Great Pretender.

Public Image Ltd

John Lydon fronting Public Image Ltd.

John Lydon fronting Public Image Ltd.

The band were named after a Muriel Spark novel, The Public Image.

Squeeze

Squeeze in the late 1970s with Jools Holland on keyboards.

Squeeze in the late 1970s with Jools Holland on keyboards.

The band’s name is a facetious tribute to the (in name only) Velvet Underground’s final album, released in 1973 and featuring none of the original band members.

The 'Velvet Underground' album cover for Squeeze.

The ‘Velvet Underground’ album cover for Squeeze.

Madness

Madness in 1979.

Madness in 1979.

Named after a song by reggae artist Prince Buster, called Madness.

Simple Minds

"I (don't) know what time it is". JIm Kerr performs with Simple Minds in 1979.

“I (don’t) know what time it is”. Jim Kerr performs with Simple Minds in 1979.

Inspired by lyrics from David Bowie’s song “The Jean Genie”

“Hes so simple minded he can’t drive his module,
He bites on the neon and sleeps in the capsule”

Duran Duran

"Hello Police? I want to report an explosion in a frilly shirt factory". Duran Duran in the early 1980s..

“Hello Police? I want to report an explosion in a frilly shirt factory”. Duran Duran in the early 1980s.

Named after a character from the science fiction cult film, Barbarella (but also inspired by the Birmingham Punk and New Wave club of the same name). The character, played by Milo O’Shea, is named “Dr. Durand Durand”.

Spandau Ballet

Spandau ballet in an early 1980s photograph. A great example of ‘WTF’ 1980s Band Fashion disasters.

Spandau ballet in an early 1980s photograph. A great example of ‘WTF’ 1980s Band Fashion disasters.

A surprisingly hardcore origin for the name of a musically softcore band. The name refers to Nazi War Crime hangings at Spandau Prison in Germany, where the victims would twitch and jump at the end of a rope, in a grisly death ballet.

Buy a signed copy of Bombed Out! here: http://www.bombedoutpunk.com/buybook.php

See the full article, with many more band names, here: http://flashbak.com/1980s-band-names-demystified-5893/

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or signed paperback copies from:
News From Nowhere, Bold Street Liverpool; Waterstones, Liverpool 1 or Pritchards, Moor Lane, Crosby.

 www.bombedoutpunk.com © Peter Alan Lloyd

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