Rock Formations
Dave Wilson
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Buy *Rock Formations: Categorical Answers to How Band Names Were Formed* online

Rock Formations: Categorical Answers to How Band Names Were Formed
Dave Wilson
Cidermill Books
288 pages
January 2005
rated 4 1/2 of 5 possible stars

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Rock Formations is one of those books that, when you see it, you kick yourself for not having thought up such a great idea yourself. Author Dave Wilson says it took him at least nine years to research this book, and the end result is well worth it. In fact, it just may be the most entertaining and fun book I’ve read in the last few years!

Basically, Wilson was wondering one day where the heck the band Steely Dan came up with their name, and that was the thought that launched this book, which documents where bands came up with their unusual names. Hundreds of band names are included, each with a brief description of what the name means, who may or may not have thought it up, and even the origins of some band member stage names. This, my friends, is the ultimate coffee-table, fun-at-parties, attention-grabbing, conversation-starting book, so if you are shy, you may want to think about buying a copy just to keep with you when on the commuter train or in line at the grocery store, then let the trivia be your guide to wild success as a conversationalist!

So the funk band Rufus got their name from an advice column in Mechanics Illustrated Magazine. And Oingo Boingo (a great name if there ever was one) came from the even stranger name of a musical troupe, The Mysterious Knights of Oingo Boingo. The Temptations were originally The Elgins until either Motown Boss Berry Gordy or band member Otis Williams came up with the former title (depends on whose story you believe). Dire Straits named themselves after their financial situation early on in their careers.

Big Bopper got his name after seeing a bunch of kids doing The Bop. Bo Diddley’s name comes from the slang term for “bully.” The Foo Fighters (a personal fave at my house) took their moniker from the term US Pilots used to describe mysterious UFOs during the Second World War. Blink 182 combined their favorite band name, Blink, with the number of times Al Pacino says the “F” word in “Scarface.” And did you know that ABBA is nothing more than the collection of first letters of each band member’s name?

Rock Formations will keep you entertained for hours, but the real fun begins when you share your newfound band name trivia knowledge with friends and strangers alike, who will think you are a cultural genius as you inform them that Ben Folds Five is really a trio led by a guy named, you guessed it, Ben Folds.

Or, should you want to impress that lovely gal (or foxy guy) in Accounting, you can always tell her the true origins of the name Toad The Wet Sprocket. She will think you are truly gifted. But don’t forget to thank Dave Wilson. He’s the one who spent all those years tracking down the story behind band names from Ace of Base to ZZ Top.

Dave, you rock. I only wish I had thought of it first.

© 2005 by Marie D. Jones for

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