26 Bands That Named Themselves After Books

Naming a band is a huge responsibility. You have to think of a name that looks good written on underpants, that people will want to scream at the top of their lungs, that mega fans will want to tattoo on their bodies! So how do you come up with the perfect moniker? Consider snagging a name from a good book. That’s a name that’s already been tested. That’s a name that appears on book spines everywhere. And if it’s a really good book, the words will already be inked on people’s bodies. Don’t believe us? Here are 26 bands that christened themselves after books.

  1. The Boo Radleys.
 This name of this alternative-rock band comes from Harper Lee’s famous novel To Kill A Mockingbird. (In the book, however, Boo Radley is pretty reclusive—not exactly a rock-and-roll star.)
  2. Steely Dan. This was the name of a dildo in William S. Burroughs’s Naked Lunch.
  3. The Doors. See Aldous Huxley’s book The Doors Of Perception, which, in turn, referenced William Blake’s quotation, “When the doors of perception are cleansed, things will appear to man as they truly are…infinite.”
  4. My Chemical Romance. Before Mikey Way was bassist for the band My Chemical Romance, he worked at Barnes and Noble, where he noticed the book Five Tales of Chemical Romance by Irvine Welsh. Bandmate Gerard Way added the “My,” to make it more personal.
  5. Titus Andronicus.
 Titus Andronicus is one of Shakespeare’s most bloody, violent works.
  6. Der Plan. British author Gordon Rattray Taylor used this phrase to describe what distinguishes humans from animals in The Biological Time Bomb.
  7. Heaven 17. In Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange, Heaven 17 is the fictional band name mentioned by a woman browsing records.
  8. Marillion. The band’s original name was Silmarillion, after a J.R.R. Tolkien book, but was eventually changed to avoid legal problems.
  9. Modest Mouse. The Mark On The Wall, by Virginia Woolf, includes the line “…and very frequent even in the minds of modest, mouse-coloured people.”
  10. Of Mice & Men. This name comes from one of John Steinbeck’s most famous works, Of Mice And Men. Steinbeck was inspired by a Robert Burns poem, To A Mouse, which contains the line, “the best-laid schemes of mice and men/Go often awry.”
  11. The Velvet Underground. Inspired by Michael Leigh’s book about sadomasochism, The Velvet Underground.
  12. Billy Talent. “Billy Tallent” is a character in Michael Turner’s Hard Core Logo.
  13. Opeth. In Sunbird, by Wilbur Smith, Opeth is the name of a Phoenician city in South Africa whose name means “City of the Moon.”
  14. As I Lay Dying. The San Diego-based Christian metalcore band lifted their name from the 1930 novel As I Lay Dying, by William Faulkner.
  15. Steppenwolf
. Taken straight from Hermann Hesse’s Steppenwolf. If you’ve read the book, you know Hesse refers to the protagonist’s animalistic nature as a “wolf of the steepes.” Gabriel Mekler, the producer for the band’s debut album, suggested the name.
  16. Veruca Salt. Who could forget snotty little Veruca Salt from Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory?
  17. Oryx and Crake.Oryx and Crake is a post-apocalytpic novel by Margaret Atwood.
  18. The Romany Rye.
 Luke MacMaster was inspired to use the name because he likes the protagonist of George Borrow’s The Romany Rye—a young man who joined a band of Gypsies.
  19. Belle & Sebastian. From Belle et Sébastien, a children’s book by French writer Cécile Aubry.
  20. Gogol Bordello. The gypsy punk band from New York City’s Lower East Side didn’t pull their name from a book title, but from the Ukrainian-born Russian author Nikolai Gogol. Gogol is famous for forging a path for writers like Kafka and Dostoevsky, and the band intends to do the same, merging Eastern European music into the English-speaking world. (Is anyone else reminded of The Namesake?)
  21. Nine Stories. Before Lisa Loeb was Lisa Loeb, she had a band named Nine Stories while attending Berklee School of Music in Boston—a name is inspired by the J.D. Salinger book written in 1953.
  22. Silverchair. The group was inspired by C.S. Lewis’s The Silver Chair, the sixth installment of the Narnia series.
  23. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. Nick Cave might have been referring to the 1956 movie The Bad Seed when he named his Australian alt-rock band, but seeing as he’s a writer, it’s likely he was talking about the book.
  24. Pylon. Pylon is the name of a William Faulkner novel, first published in 1935.
  25. Soft Machine. William S. Burroughs wrote the book Soft Machine, “a surreal space age odyssey through the wounded galaxies,” which is the first book in his “cut-up trilogy.”
  26. Genesis. Duh. (We can also thank Genesis for Avenged Sevenfold, who pulled their name from the Genesis line, “If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, Truly Lamech seventy and sevenfold.”)

If you had to name your band after a book, what would you choose?

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  • Even though I am not a fan of their music, I love that a group named themselves Atreyu after the hero of The Never-Ending Story.

  • Val Sutton

    It seems odd not to mention The Devil Wears Prada…. or poor old Lu, an underground Seattle band who took their name from a line in C.S. Lewis’ “The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe.:”

  • Emerson97

    You forgot Uriah Heep.

  • Josh

    also, Hot Water Music.

  • David Meridith

    What about Mott the Hoople?

  • Kaila

    Silverstein, as well.

  • isil

    You are missing the band Paradise Lost in this list.

  • Lindsayface47

    There’s also Jonas Sees In Color after ‘The Giver,’ and Gatsby’s American Dream after, well, ‘The Great Gatsby.’

    • Holly Baltazar

      I was about to say Gatsby’s American Dream too!

    • Victoria

      The first time I saw Jonas Sees in Color perform, my middle school teacher friends and I knew right away the reference had to be from our favorite book–‘The Giver’.

  • The Canadian band Grapes of Wrath loved Steinbeck! 🙂


  • p_capet

    Beautiful Joe (a book about a sweet but ugly dog)

  • Paul Siicu

    What about The Fall?

  • HoosierLibertarian

    Don’t forget Billy PIlgrim. Loved their song “Insomniac”.And don’t forget about Swedish Heavy Metal band Amon Amarth from the Lord of the Rings.
    Also my son had a duet that called themselves “The Magician’s Nephews.”

  • Krystle Vargas

    What about Holden Caulfield? i don’t know any of their music but that is an awesome band name.

  • Jonathan Holt

    And Airborne Toxic Event (named after a scene from Don DeLillo’s White Noise

  • Htom_Sirveaux

    “The band’s original name was Silmarillion, after a J.R.R. Tolkien book, but was eventually changed to avoid legal problems.”

    No doubt after the acquisition of all the rights by New Line Cinema. I’m glad we have Mr. Jackson’s trilogy, but it’s sad that we’ve lost Christopher Tolkien’s “LoTR belongs to all of us” (more or less) attitude and had it replaced with their “my precious” one.

    • Seregon O’Dassey

      There’s a band in the UK called Seregon, which I’m all about b/c that’s my name (and it is from The Silmarillion 😉 )

  • nerdyjen

    The singer Charlotte Sometimes named herself after the Penelope Farmer book. This was the same book that inspired the song of the same name by the Cure.

  • Luke Allein

    Where’s Hot Water Music? 🙁

  • Amanda Sesker

    Catch-22. Great ska band.

  • Anya Kingma

    My husband was in a band and they were called Alice’s Adventures Through the Windshield.

  • Bill de Iturrondo

    Toto (wizard of oz)???

  • Tom Compton

    You missed Trout Fishing In America.

  • Edward Motter-Vlahakos

    Wow, a lot of great comments with additional bands/information! There’s also “The Deep Fix” a fictional band from Michael Moorcock’s Jeremiah Cornelius books, of course the fact that Michael Moorcock himself is in the band doesn’t make it any less awesome….

  • Heather Scott-Penselin

    I think a good band name would be “The Once and Future Kings”

  • Michael Miraula

    What about Aerosmith????

  • earld

    Naming your band is a great chance to be original. Copping a book’s title is lazy and an attempt at greatness by association.

  • RegularGuy55

    A long-time Chicago area band is named, “The Ides of March” after the line in Shakespeare’s ‘Julius Caesar’. At the time they took the name, the band was bunch of high school guys, and one of them was reading ‘Julius Caesar’ in an English literature class.

  • Lizzi A Fugeman

    You forgot Neil Hannon’s band : The Divine Comedy.

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