Origins of the Names

11 December 2014 Comments Off on Origins of the Names

Ege Özgün (PHYS/PhD)

Many rock and metal bands make references to a variety of different sources, including literature, mythology and other artists, to name just a few. They do it in their lyrics, in the names of their songs and sometimes in their own names. The latter case is this week’s subject. I am going to talk about the origins of the following rock and metal bands’ names. Here we go.


Pink Floyd

Pink Floyd actually is a combination of two names: Pink for “Pink Anderson” and Floyd for “Floyd Council,” both of them blues musicians. Syd Barrett had their records in his collection, and in the end this came to be the band’s name.


Uriah Heep

Uriah Heep is a legendary band. They released 24 albums, ranging from heavy metal to hard and progressive rock. Their name comes from the main antagonist in the novel “David Copperfield” by Charles Dickens.



Our guests from the previous column got their name from the Finnish writer Mika Waltari.



Opeth was formerly a death/doom metal band and then switched to a progressive metal sound. The name of this Swedish band is derived from the word Opet, which is the name of a fictional city in Wilbur Smith’s novel “The Sunbird.”


Jethro Tull

Jethro Tull was an agriculturist who developed the horse-drawn hoe and perfected a horse-drawn seed drill. In the early days, before their debut, the band gave concerts under a variety of different names, mostly suggested by members of their booking agent’s staff, who included a history enthusiast. “Jethro Tull” was one of those suggestions, which became permanent.


Anthrax is an acute disease. Danny Lilker of Anthrax learned about it in biology class and mentioned it to Scott Ian, who thought that it sounded like a really cool name for a metal band.



Sadus is a term used in Frank Herbert’s sci-fi masterpiece “Dune.” In the series, Sadus is a Fremen (the native race living on the desert planet Dune) word for “judges.”


The Doors

The name comes from Aldous Huxley’s short book “The Doors of Perception,” which detailed his experiences taking mescaline.



The American death metal pioneers took their name from Latin. Deicide is a combined word, conjoining “deity” and the suffix “-cide”: deity meaning God, and -cide meaning to kill, as in homicide (the act of killing someone) or suicide (the act of killing oneself). “Deicide” thus means God killer.


Demons and Wizards

“Demons and Wizards” is an album by Uriah Heep, and Hansi from Blind Guardian and Jon from Iced Earth named their band after this album to show their respect.



Portishead is the name of a town eight miles west of Bristol in the UK.



Styx is the name of the river in Greek mythology that serves as a boundary between the Earth and the underworld. If you haven’t heard of the band before, I am pretty sure that you may at least know their song “Boat on the River.”


This list could be made even longer, but I think it has already demonstrated that rock and metal bands have respect for history, literature and many other fields, and moreover they explicitly show this. Stay connected to music.