8 Bands Named After People Not In The Band

Brothers_Art/istock via getty images
Brothers_Art/istock via getty images

Bands like Van Halen, The Alan Parsons Project, Phish and Santana all are named after members in the band. But what about bands named after people NOT in the band? Here's a look at eight of them:

1. Pink Floyd

There’s a record executive in the song “Have A Cigar” that says, “Oh, by the way, which one’s Pink?” Thing is, of course, this was the band responding to (and mocking) the often-asked question. But in reality, the name of the band comes from band member Syd Barrett, who took bluesman Pink Anderson and combined it with another bluesman named Floyd Council. So if you’re ever trying to come up with a good name for another successful rock band, you might consider Anderson Council.

2. Lynyrd Skynyrd

Nope, Mr. Skynyrd never played for the southern rockers. In fact, the band named themselves after their gym teacher and basketball coach, Mr. Leonard Skinner. After Skinner died, one of the surviving members of the rock band had this to say: "Coach Skinner had such a profound impact on our youth that ultimately led us to naming the band, which you know as Lynyrd Skynyrd, after him. Looking back, I cannot imagine it any other way.”

3. Hootie and the Blowfish

While some think that front man Darius Rucker was Hootie and his bandmates were the Blowfish, the truth is that Rucker was both Hootie and the Blowfish! As for the meaning: there was a kid in Rucker's high school nicknamed Hootie because he looked like an owl. There was another kid with puffed up cheeks that they called Blowfish.

4. Tilly and the Wall

Nope, no Tilly in this band. The name comes from a kids’ book, according to an interview with one of the dancers, who credits her time as a grade-school teacher prior to joining Tilly for the idea. “It’s actually the title of a children’s book. It’s just about outsiders overcoming obstacles, that kind of story,” she says. “We didn’t even think about the story that much, but it ended up fitting our band really well.”

5. Belle and Sebastian

 No Belle. No Sebastian here. Just some band mates inspired by a 1960s novel by Cécile Aubry about a six-year-old boy named Sébastien and his dog Belle,

6. Freddy Jones Band

Sorry to disappoint again, but not only is there no Freddy Jones or Jones Freddy in the band, but apparently the band has never definitively revealed the name's source.

7. Aiden

This Seattle-based band doesn’t have an Aiden. Instead, the band members named the group after a character in the 2002 film The Ring.

8. Alice Cooper

 They were first called the Earwigs, then Nazz, before settling on Alice Copper. The name is said to have been inspired by their Ouija Board, which put them in contact with a spirit named Alice Cooper. When lead singer, Vincent Furnier, went solo, he took the name for himself.

Friday’s Best Amazon Deals Include Digital Projectors, Ugly Christmas Sweaters, and Speakers

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As a recurring feature, our team combs the web and shares some amazing Amazon deals we’ve turned up. Here’s what caught our eye today, December 4. Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers, including Amazon, and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we only get commission on items you buy and don’t return, so we’re only happy if you’re happy. Good luck deal hunting!

10 Surprising Facts About Wham!’s 'Last Christmas'

Michael Putland/Getty Images
Michael Putland/Getty Images

Over the course of his illustrious career, George Michael gave the world many gifts. One that keeps on giving is “Last Christmas,” the 1984 holiday classic by Wham!, Michael's pop duo with Andrew Ridgeley. “Last Christmas” is such a uniquely beloved song that it inspired a 2019 film of the same name. That’s just one interesting part of the “Last Christmas” story. Read on for 10 fascinating facts about this seasonal synth-pop favorite.

1. George Michael wrote "Last Christmas" in his childhood bedroom.

“Last Christmas” was born one day in 1984 when George Michael and Wham! bandmate Andrew Ridgeley were visiting Michael’s parents. While they were sitting around watching TV, Michael suddenly dashed upstairs to his childhood bedroom and composed the modern Xmas classic in about an hour. “George had performed musical alchemy, distilling the essence of Christmas into music,” Ridgeley said. “Adding a lyric which told the tale of betrayed love was a masterstroke and, as he did so often, he touched hearts."

2. “Last Christmas” isn’t really a Christmas song.

There’s nothing in “Last Christmas” about Santa, reindeer, trees, snow, or anything we typically associate with the holiday. Rather, the song is about a failed romance that just happens to have begun on December 25, when Michael gave someone his heart, and ended on December 26, when this ungrateful person “gave it away.”

3. George Michael wrote and produced the song—but that’s not all.

Dave Hogan/Getty Images

By the time Wham! recorded “Last Christmas” in August (yes, August) 1984, Michael had taken full control of the group. In addition to writing and producing the song, Michael insisted on playing the Roland Juno-60 synth in the studio. “George wasn’t a musician,” engineer Chris Porter said. “It was a laborious process, because he was literally playing the keyboards with two or three fingers.” Michael even jangled those sweet sleigh bells himself.

4. “Last Christmas” didn’t reach #1 on the UK charts.

As the movie Love Actually reminds us, scoring a Christmas #1 in the UK is a really big deal. Unfortunately, “Last Christmas” didn’t give Wham! that honor. It stalled at #2, and to this day it has the distinction of being the highest-selling UK single of all time to not reach #1.

5. George Michael sang on the song that kept “Last Christmas” at #2.

“Last Christmas” was bested on the UK charts by Band Aid’s “Do They Know It’s Christmas,” an all-star charity single benefiting Ethiopian famine relief. Michael sang on “Do They Know It’s Christmas,” and was so committed to the cause that he donated his profits from “Last Christmas” to helping the African nation.

6. George Michael was sued for plagiarism over “Last Christmas.”

In the mid-1980s, the publishing company Dick James Music sued George Michael on behalf of the writers of “Can’t Smile Without You,” a schmaltzy love song recorded by The Carpenters and Barry Manilow, among others. According to Chris Porter, the recording engineer on “Last Christmas,” the suit was dismissed after a musicologist presented 60-plus songs that have a similar chord progression and melody.

7. "Last Christmas" has been covered by a lot of other artists.

Michael Putland/Getty Images

Jimmy Eat World, Hilary Duff, Good Charlotte, Ariana Grande, Carly Rae Jepsen, Gwen Stefani, and Taylor Swift are just a few of the artists who’ve covered “Last Christmas” over the years. The strangest rendition may be the 2006 dance version by the Swedish CGI character Crazy Frog, which reached #16 on the UK charts.

8. Some people make a concerted effort to avoid hearing “Last Christmas.”

While millions of people delight in hearing “Last Christmas” every year, an internet game called Whamageddon encourages players to avoid the song from December 1 to 24. The rules are simple: Once you hear the original Wham! version of “Last Christmas” (remixes and covers don’t count), you’re out. You then admit defeat on social media with the hashtag #Whamageddon and wait for your friends to suffer the same fate. Note: The rules prohibit you from “deliberately sending your friends to Whamhalla.”

9. “Last Christmas” finally charted in America following George Michael’s death in 2016.

Back in 1984, “Last Christmas” wasn’t released as a commercial single in the United States, and therefore it wasn’t eligible for the Billboard Hot 100 chart. However, Billboard changed its rules in 1998, and in the wake of George Michael’s unexpected death on Christmas Day 2016, the song finally made its Hot 100 debut. In December 2018, it reentered the charts and peaked at #25.

10. George Michael was involved in 2019's Last Christmas movie.

November 2019 saw the release of Paul Feig's Last Christmas, a romantic comedy inspired by the song starring Game of Thrones's Emilia Clarke. Producer David Livingstone came up with the idea while George Michael was still alive, and when he pitched the pop star on the project, he was given the greenlight—with one condition: Michael stipulated that actress and author Emma Thompson write the movie. Thompson co-authored the story and the screenplay, and she even wound up playing a supporting role.