10 Top band names & meanings

Oct 6, 2009 at 5:10 a.m. ET

Have you ever wondered how some of Canada's most famous bands wound up with such unique names? SheKnows Canada tells you the meanings behind the monikers of these 10 top acts.

Bare Naked Ladies

The Tragically Hip

Hey, hey! When former Monkees band member Michael Nesmith released Elephant Parts, a collection of music videos and comedy skits, little did he know that his skit titled "The Tragically Hip" would become the inspiration for a Kingston, Ontario-based band's name and become famous in households throughout Canada!


As the newly formed band prepared for a gig at The Coff-In, drummer John Rutsey's older brother came up with the band's moniker as a play on words describing their frantic efforts to come up with a name in a hurry!
Guess Who?

Guess Who?

Who's had more name changes? The band debuted as Al & The Silvertones, then became Chad Allen and the Reflections. When a US band called The Reflections snagged a hit record, the band changed its name again, this time to Chad Allen and the Expressions. In 1965, the boys finally scored a chart-topping single, and Quality Records devised a marketing ploy -- to have deejays refer to the band behind the hit as "guess who?" The name stuck even after the band's true identity was revealed!
Photo credit (right): buffalochip.com

Teenage Head

Notables in the Canadian punk movement, this band, originally from Hamilton, Ontario, took their name from an album and song by The Flamin' Groovies, which was released in 1971 and was listed in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die. Teenage Head became the inspiration for other similar Canadian acts, both musically and performance-wise, such as The Headstones.

April Wine

Conceived in Nova Scotia, this popular Canadian band was started by two brothers and a cousin who chose the band's name simply because they thought the two words sounded good together. They were right!


This band was originally The Classics, then became The Collectors, and in 1970 finally changed their name to Chilliwack after getting a new singer. The word is a Salish term that means "going back up." Incidentally, it is also the name of a city in British Columbia.

Blue Rodeo

Founding members Jim Cuddy and Greg Keelor came up with the name in 1984, while immersed in New York's artsy avant-cowboy scene. They wanted to have a "psychedelic cowboy name."
Great Big Sea

Great Big Sea

Actually their second-choice for the band's name, the guys picked this label after each band member made a long list of potential names for the group. It came from a light-hearted tune about a tidal wave. What?!
Photo credit (left): greatbigsea.com

Bare Naked Ladies

Band members Steve and Josh randomly began making up band names at a Bob Dylan concert one night. They hit upon Bare Naked Ladies and thought it perfect. They then made a million dollars.
Photo credit (top): independent.co.uk

The Road Hammers

Founder Jason McCoy always thought The Road Hammers would be a cool name for a country band. So what's a road hammer, anyway? According to Jason, the term refers to someone who makes his living on or near the highway, or by extension, to someone who has a restless spirit. The band was conceived in 2004 and is still truckin' along.

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