Black Sabbath : Originally known as the Earth Blues Company, they later shortened it to Earth – then discarded that name altogether, because another band was already using it. They settled on Black Sabbath after attaching the title – which had earlier been used for a 1963 film starring Boris Karloff – to a spooky new song inspired by an apparition seen by bassist Geezer Butler.
Buffalo Springfield : When Stephen Stills, Neil Young and Richie Furay’s triple-threat singer-songwriter assault hooked up with rhythm section Dewey Martin and Bruce Palmer to make rock ‘n’ roll history, everybody else on the West Coast was coming up with weird, fanciful band names. They instead chose theirs from a random brand of steamroller that Stills and Furay saw outside the place where they were living.
Deep Purple : These British rockers had been calling themselves Roundabout, before the Yes song of the same name. At guitarist Ritchie Blackmore’s suggestion, they changed it to Deep Purple after a song that went back to the big-band era. It was first cut by the Paul Whiteman band in the ’30s.
Def Leppard : Singer Joe Elliott initially coined the name “Deaf Leopard” while writing reviews for imaginary rock bands in his high-school English class. Tony Kenning, percussionist for the band’s original lineup, suggested modifying the spelling to make the name seem less “punk.”
Guns N’ Roses : Hollywood Rose member Izzy Stradlin spent some time in the mid-’80s as roommates with L.A. Guns member Tracii Guns. When L.A. Guns needed a new singer, Hollywood Rose’s Axl Rose came aboard. This led to the 1985 formation of Guns N’ Roses, a combined lineup that featured Rose, Stradlin and Guns, along with Ole Beich and Rob Gardner. Melding the names of both previous groups proved to be a much better call than rejected suggestions, which included Heads of Amazon and AIDS.