There have been scores of songs about literature—from “Paperback Writer” to “Tom Sawyer” to “Holden Caulfield” (by a Newfoundland punk band named Mopey Mumble-Mouse). There have been albums, too. The Steve Miller Band’s third album, for instance, was called “Brave New World.” But the most profound paean to authorship is certainly naming your band after a book. So this installment of the Why Not 100 focuses on 56 of them.
On this list you’ll find bands named after book titles (from Steppenwolf to Supertramp), characters (from Dorian Gray to the Dead Milkmen), and various other literary references (from Mott the Hoople to the Ministry of Love). You’ll find Faulkner and Fitzgerald, Hesse and Huxley, Steinbeck and Salinger, Dahl and Dickens.
And we’re not even including Bob Dylan (Bobby Zimmerman chose the name in reference to poet Dylan Thomas) and Moby (electric dance music pioneer James Hall got his nickname from being a distant descendant of Herman Melville). Enjoy the bands:
1. The Velvet Underground
Michael Leigh’s early ‘60s book about a secret sexual subculture became the name of the band co-founded by Lou Reed, managed by Andy Warhol, and eventually elected to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
The band that had late ’60s hits like “Born to be Wild” and “Magic Carpet Ride” took its name from the title of a book by German-Swiss author Herman Hesse. Before then, they called themselves The Sparrows.
They took their name from a 1908 book called The Autobiography of a Super-Tramp by Welsh writer W.H. Davies. They reached superstardom with their 1979 Breakfast in America album, which included “The Logical Song” and “Goodbye Stranger.”