Rock ‘n’ Roll Baby Names: The coolest classics

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

Layla, you’ve got me on my knees.”

When your name is crooned by Eric Clapton, it takes on a whole new level of cool. Undoubtedly chosen for its lyrical, laid-back, la la la sound, Layla also sports an intriguing meaning that suits the song’s bluesy quality: “ night” in Arabic. Practically unknown before the song’s release, Layla first hit the U.S. Top 1000 in 1972, when Clapton’s rock ballad achieved chart success. There, it hovered for awhile, fell off the charts again, and then emerged anew upon the release of Layla’s Unplugged version in 1992, when it began a steady climb to baby name stardom. Today, Layla rests at an unquestionably popular Number 37, and is sure to climb even higher, given all its attractive characteristics.

Though it is probable that not all parents of little Laylas were inspired by the song, it is sure to have influenced at least some, and for those willing to dig a bit deeper into rock history for inspiration, past the dated “Roxanne” (The Police) and “Barbara Ann” (The Beach Boys), there are a number of likely gems á la Layla, just waiting to be discovered. While that list does tend to favor the girls, who tend to be more popular subjects of love songs than men, if one looks past the songs and toward the artists themselves, a whole treasure trove of possibilities can be found, and not all of them as far out as one would think.

Here are my favorite rock ‘n’ roll baby names for boys and girls, with the songs and artists referenced. (The Beatles, in particular, seem to have had their finger on the baby naming pulse!)  Keep in mind that these lists are not comprehensive, but, rather, reflect those names that seem particularly relevant to the modern day crowd, have an intriguing sound, or simply have that rockin’ edge.


Alice (White Rabbit, Jefferson Airplane and Alice Cooper)

Athena (Athena, The Who)

Caroline (Sweet Caroline, Neil Diamond)

Cecilia (Cecilia, Simon and Garfunkel)

Clover (Crimson and Clover, Joan Jett)

Crimson (Crimson and Clover, Joan Jett)

Daisy (Daisy Jane, America)

Eleanor (Eleanor Rigby, The Beatles)

Eloise (Dear Eloise, The Hollies)

Genesis (Genesis)

Goldy (Goldy McJohn, band member, Steppenwolf)

Iris (Donnie Iris)

Ivy (Poison Ivy, The Hollies)

Jane (Jane, Jefferson Airplane)

Joplin (Janis Joplin)

Josephine (Ride on Josephine, George Thorogood)

Julia (Julia, The Beatles)

Layla (Layla, Eric Clapton)

Leah (Ah Leah!, Donnie Iris)

Lily (Pictures of Lily, The Who; Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts, Bob Dylan)

Lola (Lola, The Kinks)

Lorelei (Lorelei, Styx)

Maggie (Maggie May, Rod Stewart)

Natalia (Natalia, Joan Baez)

Nona (Nona, Motley Crue)

Ophelia (Ophelia, The Band)

Prudence (Dear Prudence,The Beatles)

Quinn (Quinn the Eskimo, Bob Dylan and The Hollies, could also be used for a boy)

Rhiannon (Rhiannon, Fleetwood Mac)

Rio (Duran Duran)

Rosalie (Mobile Bay, Johnny Cash)

Rosanna (Rosanna, Toto)

Rosemary (Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts, Bob Dylan)

Sadie (Sexy Sadie, The Beatles)

Spring (from Bruce Springsteen)

Valerie (Valerie, Steve Winwood)

Virginia (Only the Good Die Young, Billy Joel)


Axl (Axl Rose, Guns N’ Roses)

Bowie (David Bowie)

Cooper (Alice Cooper)

Creed (Creedence Clearwater Revival)

Crosby (Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young)

Daltrey (Roger Daltrey, the Who)

Duff (Duff McKagen, band member, Guns N’ Roses)

Dylan (Bob Dylan; this could also work as a girls’ name)

Elliott (Bobby Elliott, The Hollies)

Fleet (Fleetwood Mac)

Gilby (Gilby Clarke, band member, Guns N’ Roses; another possibility for a girl)

Graham (Graham Nash, of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young)

Hendrix (Jimi Hendrix)

Henley (Don Henley, The Eagles)

Jagger (Mick Jagger, The Rolling Stones)

Jethro (Jethro Tull)

Jett (Joan Jett)

Levon (Levon, Elton John)

Mac (Fleetwood Mac)

Nash (Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young)

Ozzy (Ozzy Osbourne)

Rex (T. Rex)

Rigby (Eleanor Rigby, The Beatles)

Riley (Baba O’ Riley, The Who)

Rushton (Rushton Moreve, band member, Steppenwolf)

Seger (Bob Seger)

Zeppelin (Led Zeppelin)

Ziggy (Ziggy Stardust, David Bowie)


Hannah is a student at the University of Michigan, with a double major in English and German. She is currently completing an internship near Munich, Germany, where she works in translations. Her love of names began too long ago to pinpoint when it started, but it may have had something to do with her fourth grade teacher’s baby name book. Her other interests include reading, particularly fantasy novels, as well as writing, researching films from the 1930s and 40s, running, and fashion. After graduation, Hannah plans to study international journalism. She blogs about names and life in Germany at

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