Musicians love movies. Why wouldn't they? It's not like they're going to be good at science! Creative folks like other creative folks and when struggling to come up with a band name, they go to the movies that inspired them. Or to movies they've heard of. Sometimes, it's a happy accident. And, yes Golden Earring was #26.
Here are 25 of the best! Special thanks to Tom Fraser for his suggestions and help with this column. If there's a heaven in New Zealand, Tom, you're booked in advance! Meet ya there in 50!
The Knack (and How To Get It): The movie was directed by Richard Lester in 1965, the same year he directed The Beatles' HELP! Knowing how much The "My Sharona" Knack loved the Beatles, it's pretty obvious that this helped fulfill another step towards their total Beatles affiliation. I would've gone with calling my band The Fools On The Hill, but then again, I've only made three dollars with my recording career.
24) The Damned: There was a 1940s French film of the same title, but it's most likely the punk group The Damned got their name from the 1963 British Science Fiction film, directed by Joseph Losey, and starring future Days of Our Lives star Macdonald Carey.
Bad Company: There are at least nine movies titled "Bad Company," four of which were made before Bad Company, the band, made their name. I'm going to say it was the 1925 50-minute film directed by Edward H. Griffith and starring Madge Kennedy and Bigelow Cooper that inspired Mick Ralphs. This was a silent film, therefore, prime for a hard rock soundtrack.
22) Vixen: Russ Meyer has more than his share of films used for band names. This 1968, 70-minute thriller, was a perfect name for a band of female heavy metal goddesses. Why no one took up his Common Law Cabin film for a band name is surely a question for the ages.
Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!: Not sure why the glam rock band that took the name Faster Pussycat didn't keep the Kill! Kill! Part, since it's the best part. It was probably some guy at the label who didn't think it was catchy enough. Another Russ Meyer film, it should be noted.
20) Them: I'm not so sure that Van Morrison and his Belfast rockers were truly aware of a Sci-Fi / Horror film from 1954 where atomic tests in New Mexico cause common ants to mutate into giant man-eating monsters, but I like to think some ideas are just out there and meant to connect.
The Honeymoon Killers: Based on a true story of a couple who met through a lonely correspondence club (it's what people did before the Internet) and who then lured lonely women to marriage only to rip off their life savings and kill them, The Honeymoon Killers became the name of at least one very good art-noise-rock band in NYC.
18) God Speed You! Black Emperor: A 1976 Japanese black and white documentary by Mitsuo Yanagimachi that follows the Japanese biker gang, The Black Emperors, the film became the name of a band from Canada. Canada!
16) The Killers: Here we have a film from 1946 starring Burt Lancaster in his screen debut and Ava Garnder with an uncredited John Huston co-writing the screenplay, which was based in part on a short story by Ernest Hemingway. It was remade in 1964 by Don Siegel with Lee Marvin, Angie Dickinson, John Cassavetes and Ronald Reagan just before he went into politics and ruined the country. The band, from Las Vegas, has a lead singer named Brandon Flowers.
The Searchers: Before there was a Merseybeat band with a version of Jackie DeShannon's "Needles and Pins," there was this 1956 John Ford film starring John Wayne, Vera Miles and Ward Bond. The film received no Academy Award nominations, but it has since been named The Greatest American Western of All-Time by the American Film Institute. Take heart all you award-free filmmakers!
14) They Might Be Giants: A 1971 film starring George C. Scott and Joanne Woodward, TMBG is a Sherlock Holmes movie set in New York City. The band is a duo from Brooklyn with a number of extra members helping them do what they cannot for themselves. "Boss of Me" was the theme for the show Malcolm In the Middle, the story of Malcolm McLaren, Johnny Rotten and Sid Vicious.
Fine Young Cannibals: Directed by Michael Anderson and starring Robert Wagner, Natalie Wood and George Hamilton, the film is loosely based on the life of Chet Baker. Fine Young Cannibals, the group, featured Roland Gift, a man who sang like his words could cut glass.
12) The Mission: Don't think Goths are beyond worshipping others. Wayne Hussey of Sisters of Mercy decided to name his band after this 1986 film starring Robert DeNiro, my former neighbor Aidan Quinn, Liam Neeson and Jeremy Irons, a man who was recently the subject of several humorous off-the-record comments at a recent dinner engagement. Y! Music enthusiasts note: John Kordosh's name did not come up once!
Pussy Galore): Not only is Goldfinger the third spy film in the James Bond series with Sean Connery (who was also the subject of several humorous off-the-record comments at the very same recent dinner engagement), but it's a movie that features the character Pussy Galore, which also became a band name. Pretty risqué for 1964, no? Who's content with "holding hands" here?
10) Alphaville: I would've thought more bands would be named after Jean-Luc Godard films. No Pierrot le Fou? No Je Vous Salue Sarajevo? What is with you people? All we get is some German synthpop group in the 1980s? Even Hal Hartley has one band named after one of his films, The Unbelievable Truth. And Cameron Crowe! Say Anything!
Killdozer: A 1974 Sci-Fi horror film that screamed for a band to be named after it and it still took nine years for it to happen. But it happened. In Wisconsin! In Madison! Onward! Killdozer!
8) Scarface: Well, it took a rapper from the Geto Boys to snatch up this Brian DePalma film. We can almost forgive Brian for directing Springsteen's "Dancing In the Dark" video. Amazing, really, how a bad four minutes can do so much damage to hours of great filmmaking. The same can be said about a bum paragraph, which is why I'm still trying to live down the infamy of that botched job I did on paragraph 7 of that blog from February 2009. Dude remembers it.
My Bloody Valentine: A Canadian slasher film made in 1981 that inspired the Dublin, Ireland alternative rock band who made the 1991 album Loveless, their second and final, and the one that has fans waiting forever for something new that could possibly live up to the myth. I sometimes think the band went undercover as Sugar Ray and made millions!
6) Shaolin and Wu Tang: A 1981 film directed by Hong Kong martial artist Gordon Liu that is acted in Cantonese and Mandarin, which appealed to the members of the future Wu-Tang Clan, an influential hip-hop group from Staten Island, where Chinese food is readily available.
Xiu Xiu: The Sent Down Girl: A 1998 Chinese film directed by actress Joan Chen that takes place during the Cultural Revolution's "Down To the Countryside Movement" in China, where privileged urban youth were sent to farming villages. The band is essentially Jamie Stewart who started his band in San Jose, California, a farming village for privileged urban youth here in the U.S.
4) The Birds: The movie is an Alfred Hitchcock classic. The band is best known for having Ronnie Wood, later of the Faces and The Rolling Stones. They never released an album, just four singles and a few other random tracks. I wish more bands were like this.
2) The Misfits: Directed by John Huston, written by Arthur Miller, and starring Clark Gable, Marilyn Monroe and Montgomery Clift. You must forgive me for being slightly less impressed by a band that had only Glenn Danzig as its star. That's enough to trade for Clark Gable, maybe. But Jerry Only for Marilyn Monroe? Bobby Steele for Montgomery Clift? Wow. No wonder the average rocker's investment returns are so poor.
Mudhoney: It's almost as if Russ Meyer made films just so bands could name themselves after them. This may be the most perfect band name ever. Second only to When People Were Shorter and Lived Near the Water.