Oingo Boingo Anyone?: Bizarre Band Name Origins

By Burt Alper

October 17, 2008

Many of us occasionally wonder about the origins of our favorite band names. As it turns out, bands can be wildly creative when engaging in the name game. A band name can come from a crazy dream, a mispronunciation of a member’s name, pop-culture and literary references, and interesting foreign languages. Enjoy the following band-name origins – some perhaps more factual than others – courtesy of Am I Right:

CHUMBAWAMBA – Based on a band member’s dream, in which he didn’t know which public toilet to use because the signs said “Chumba” and “Wamba” instead of “Men” and “Women.”

COUNTING CROWS – Named after an English divination rhyme: “If you hang on to the flimsiness of anything, you might as well be standing there, counting crows….”

EVERYTHING BUT THE GIRL – Inspired by a sign in an English furniture store that read, “For your bedroom needs, we sell everything but the girl.”

FUGEES – The three band members’ parents were refugees. Their label is called Refugee Camp.

GIN BLOSSOMS – Late 1800s slang for burst capillaries on the face from heavy drinking over many years (e.g., W.C. Fields’ nose).

HOOTIE AND THE BLOWFISH – Named after two kids in lead singer Darius Rucker’s high school. One looked like an owl (Hootie), and the other had puffed-up cheeks (Blowfish).

MOBY – The artist is supposedly a distant relative of Herman Melville, author of “Moby Dick.”

OINGO BOINGO – Some say that the name is Swahili for “thinking while dancing.” The band started out as a musical theater group called “The Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo.”

Bonus Band-Name Quiz: Which of the following three origins for Green Day is correct?

1. When the band members dropped out of high school to work on their music, their principal said, “It’ll be a green day in hell before you make anything of yourselves.”

2. A sign in the movie “Soilent Green” contained “Green Day.”

3. Slang for a day of smoking pot.

Click through to see the answer.

The correct answer is #3, slang for smoking pot.

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