It was the best of bands, it was the worst of bands

So, Muriel Spark died after a long and illustrious career. I was reminded that the band Public Image Ltd. named themselves after a novel of hers, which then made me think about literary-rock connections. I started to make a list in my head of Musical Groups Named After Things Literary. Add any you can think of! Note: I cheated and used Wikipedia for some of these. I’m not quite that smart!

Public Image
The Soft Machine
Steely Dan
The Boo Radleys
The Velvet Underground
Pere Ubu
The Thompson Twins
Aerosmith (disputed)
Steppenwolf
The Grifters
Heaven 17
Love and Rockets
Eyeless in Gaza (double Huxley/Milton score as pointed out by someone else)
As I Lay Dying
Veruca Salt
The Grapes of Wrath
Collective Soul
The Doors (double Huxley/Blake score)
The Fall
Hot Water Music
Moby

25 thoughts on “It was the best of bands, it was the worst of bands

  1. I knew Veruca Salt and probably could have guessed Heaven 17, but as far as the rest of them, either my music knowledge or my literary knowledge is not quite as SMRT as you an Wikipedia. (I’m not even sure *how* I would go about researching something like that in Wikipedia.)

      1. TV shows ain’t literary! I included graphic novels.
        I did find out that about Belle & Sebastian during my search, though.

  2. hi! found you via seriesfinale… really interesting post.
    I can add:
    Amboy Dukes – Ted Nugent’s original band – taken from the title of a 1940’s book about street gangs by Irving Shulman.
    The Black Crowes – originally named Mr. Crowe’s Garden, after a favorite children’s book.
    Grateful Dead – from a passage about spirit beings, chosen at random from a reference book by Jerry Garcia.
    Marillion – named after J.R.R. Tolkien’s book The Silmarillion.
    My Chemical Romance- from Irvine Welsh’s “Ectasy: Three Tales of Chemical Romance” novel.
    They Might be Giants – named after a film, but the film references Don Quixote – the title character says “they might be giants” when referring to the windmills he attempts to fight.

      1. There’s also a pretty good L.A.-area rock band these days called the Dagons.
        Another (possibly insufferably obscure) one: I was trying to look up some background information on George Trakl’s poem “Elis” for class a couple of months ago, but all I found out was that there is a Lichtensteinian goth band named after it.

  3. centrifugal bumblepuppy.
    one time i had to break a boy’s heart by explaining to him that, no, anthony burgess as not name-checking the _band_ heaven 17.

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