Rock ‘n’ Roll Baby Names

 This week, Abby Sandel, creator of the always interesting, goes through the list of  Rock‘n’Roll Hall of Fame inductees and selects the coolest rocker name possibilities.

The Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame inducted its 2011 class last week.  Since 1986, more than 605 individuals have been added to their list of notables.  Most are performers, and many are household names.  Alice Cooper and Neil Diamond were among the most recent inductees.

Many a rock star was born plain old John or James, but scroll through the list, and plenty of possibilities emerge.  They’re the kind of names that evoke late nights, loud sounds, and a certain unpredictable, fiercely creative spirit.

What could be a more fitting source of inspiration for baby names?

Booker – As in Booker T. and the M.G.s, pioneers of the Memphis sound.

Cash – The Man in Black played to prisoners and sang about the perils of naming your son Sue.  His surname has been racing up the charts since Joaquin Phoenix played the singer in 2005’s Walk the Line

Cohen – Perhaps among the most controversial boy’s name of our era, but if you’re thinking music, it brings to mind poet-turned-performer Leonard Cohen.

Cole – He’s a Top 100 choice for boys, due in part to the unforgettable NatKingCole.

Crosby – There’s ice hockey hotshot Sidney, Hollywood crooner Bing, and David Crosby of Crosby, Stills & Nash.

Dylan – Celebrated singer-songwriter Bob Dylan remains an elder statesman of rock, but as a given name he’s been wildly popular since the 1990s.

Elvis – Sharing a name with the King of Rock and Roll could be a lot to live up to, but it hasn’t hurt fellow Hall of Famer Elvis Costello.

Everly – Brothers Phil and Don were part of the inaugural set of inductees.

Floyd – Which one’s Pink?  Among the most successful rock bands of our time, their name was inspired by blues musicians Pink Anderson and Floyd Council.  As a name, Floyd has been out of favor for decades, but could make for a daring choice.

Jackson – The Jackson 5 were inducted in 1997.  Brother Michael was honored for his solo career in 2001.  Add in 2004’s Jackson Browne, and this just might be the most common name at Rock Hall.

Jagger – An occupational surname with a meaning similar to Carter, but a very different vibe thanks to Rolling Stones frontman Mick.

Hank – Worn by country legend Hank Williams and R&B bad boy Hank Ballard.

Hendrix With his fashionable x, Hendrix has potential based on his sound alone.  Add in guitar hero Jimi and he’s doubly cool.

Henley – Borrowed from the pages of the LL Bean catalog, or from The Eagles’ Don Henley

HollisHollis has a prep school vibe, but also conjures up hip hop trio Run-D.M.C., natives of Hollis, Queens.  It’s a stretch, but you can’t name your son Jam-Master Jay.

Lennon – Instantly linked to John Lennon, the name evokes the singer’s commitment to peace and justice.

MarleyMarley brings to mind reggae innovator Bob Marley and his musical family, plus a very famous yellow Lab.

Nico – Worn by German chanteuse Christa Päffgen, known for her performances with The Velvet Underground.

Presley – More subtle than Elvis, and used almost exclusively for girls.

Santana – The saintly Santana is transformed by guitar master Carlos Santana.  The surname is now worn by a Glee cheerleader.

Seger/Seeger – With one e, he’s Detroit’s Bob Seger.  With two, he’s folk legend Pete Seeger.

Sid – If you’re daring enough to name your kiddo after one of the Sex Pistols, Sid could fit right in with Max and Gus.

Strummer – A musical choice with an edge, thanks to Clash frontman Joe Strummer.

VanBorn George Ivan, the versatile Van Morrison’s career has spanned decades.

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24 Responses to “Rock ‘n’ Roll Baby Names”

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pdxlibrarian Says:

March 21st, 2011 at 7:52 am

Only one woman? Disappointing.

Elisabeth@YCCII Says:

March 21st, 2011 at 8:59 am

So glad you included Nico! Luff her, and the contemporary Neko Case.

Sid is wicked cool.

Abby Says:

March 21st, 2011 at 9:24 am

pdxlibrarian, Actually, it *is* a little disappointing how few women have been inducted – there’s no doubt that the list leans masculine. Though some of these – Everly, Presley, Santana, Marley, Hollis – could certainly be used for girls.

Just like many future rock stars were born James and John, their female counterparts often had plain Jane given names – Joan, Debbie, Grace, Patti. Fine names, but they don’t scream “rock star.”

Though I SHOULD have included Jett on this list!

Elisabeth, I think Sid has great potential.

purpleprose78 Says:

March 21st, 2011 at 1:00 pm

Joan is a name that I think has real potential to come back into style. I can totally see it on a cool kid with non-traditional parents.

Other Carolyn Says:

March 21st, 2011 at 1:33 pm

While Joan doesn’t sound like a music name (and I say this as a big fan of Joan Baez), Joni definitely does! It would take a certain kind of parent/child to pull it off, of course, but there’s no getting away from the Mitchell association.

Sid/Syd also has musical connections via Syd Barrett, one of the founding members of Pink Floyd and the pioneer of their psychedelic sound. Not well known in the general public, but floyd fans are likely to pick up on it.

Claire Says:

March 21st, 2011 at 1:45 pm

Looking at the recent SSA records, I was interested, but not necessarily surprised, to see that Lennon, McCartney, Harrison and Starr have all been in use in recent years…for girls!

Abby Says:

March 21st, 2011 at 2:25 pm

@Other Carolyn – Of course, Syd Barrett! Great suggestion.

@Claire – Harrison for a girl? I missed that! And I’m not sure what to do with that, actually, though I think Presley is kind of neat. Wonder how many of the little Starrs’ parents were thinking of Ringo?

@purplerpose – Joan is one of my new favorites, thanks to the Mad Men character. (Which I am woefully behind on, so if she’s been written off, please don’t tell!)

Who was the country musician who just named his daughter Joni? I do get a music vibe, but I also thinks “loves Chachi.” But surely that’s a fading reference …

Shannon Says:

March 21st, 2011 at 6:01 pm

I don’t think it was neccessary to make fun of Jam Master Jay since he is dead. I know his son and i’m sure he would not be happy about that. Come on now, nameberry.

Abby Says:

March 21st, 2011 at 6:18 pm

@Shannon – No disrespect intended. You COULD name your son Jason in his honor, but I’d be surprised if anyone would make the connection. Ditto Darryl or Joseph. I thought Hollis seemed like a more interesting option.

suzanne Says:

March 21st, 2011 at 6:29 pm

How about Courtney (Love), Alanis (Morissette), and Janis (Joplin)? Also, I don’t think they were making fun of Jam Master Jay at all. They were just saying you can’t give your kid that name and they’re right. He’s from Brooklyn, right? We could include that or maybe Jason (his given name). Though Hollis is a little more interesting.

suzanne Says:

March 21st, 2011 at 6:30 pm

Ha, Abby! You and I were on the same track. I just got distracted by work so you beat me to it.

Lola Says:

March 21st, 2011 at 9:19 pm

Sid’s my favorite up there, easily. His great grandad was Sidney/Sid. I’ve thought about using Sidney on a boy but I get shot down, every time!

We’re huge Pink Floyd fans, But Syd Barrett had a real sad ending. We’d probably think of that at least once a day if we did use Sid. Well, that’s what *he* says!

jwalling Says:

March 21st, 2011 at 10:45 pm

Floyd! DH and I get weird looks when we tell people it’s on our shortlist for a boy. We like it specifically because of the Pink Floyd association, although it is also a family name for us.

Abby Says:

March 21st, 2011 at 10:47 pm

@Suzanne, this list was strictly limited to Hall of Fame inductees. As soon as I started, I realized the girls’ list was paltry. Tina, Janis, Grace … not a ton to work with, and not obviously tied to their namesakes.

That’s something that always gets me with names that honor someone famous – do you go ahead and use their given name, even if it is absolutely ordinary? Like John, instead of Lennon? Or do you go for the distinctive, obvious choice – Lennon – and make it clear that you’re naming your child after your hero? If it was your dad, you’d probably use John …

Frane Says:

March 22nd, 2011 at 7:44 am

Why is the name Cohen controversial?

Claire Says:

March 22nd, 2011 at 2:17 pm

@Abby I went to school with three brothers named Paul, George, and John…and their little sister, Ruth(!) There’s not much doubt who they were named after, in that case.

Claire Says:

March 22nd, 2011 at 2:20 pm

@Abby I’ve always thought of Harrison as well-suited for girls. When you think about it, it fits right in with the Madison/Addison/Aniston trend, thought it’s a bit edgier. I think there were at least 5 girls named Harrison born in 2009. I hope it continues to catch on.

Sunday Summary: 3/27/11 | Appellation Mountain Says:

March 27th, 2011 at 10:01 am

[…] thoroughly enjoyed compiling Rock’n'Roll Baby Names for Nameberry last week.  This week’s list is equally edgy.  Here’s a hint: Buffy is on the […]

Lucky*Clover Says:

April 10th, 2011 at 11:19 am

My friend has a son named Cash and when I first heard it, I thought,”Cash…REALLY?”, it seemed crazy to me. The name has grown on me because of my love for him but I still find Cash to be an odd name to give to a child. My cousin just had a little girl named Presley and it seems to be gaining in popularity for girls lately. My favorites are Jackson and Cole.

SmarkLot Says:

April 12th, 2011 at 4:25 pm

My son’s name is Seger! Not after Bob or Pete, although sometimes it’s easier just to say so then explaining the totally random name.

Chris Says:

May 21st, 2011 at 9:24 am

I really dislike this trend of randomly using surnames as forenames.

Rock ‘n’ Roll Baby Names: The coolest classics – Baby Name Blog – Nameberry Says:

August 8th, 2011 at 11:46 pm

[…] Rock ‘n’ Roll Baby Names: The coolest classics […]

Rock ‘n’ Roll Baby Names: The coolest classics – Baby Name Blog – Nameberry Says:

August 11th, 2011 at 1:40 pm

[…] In her debut blog for Nameberry, our newest intern, Hannah Tenison, shares her favorite classic rock ‘n’ roll baby names. […]

Brightonbabixz Says:

August 20th, 2011 at 4:38 pm

I love Hendrix!! My cousin’s name is Miles Hendrix and my other cousin is Isabella Dexter

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