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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.

GIRLS

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)

BOYS

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 http://themoonisntshining.blogspot.com

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34 Responses to “Rock ‘n’ Roll Baby Names: The coolest classics”

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Pansy Says:

August 9th, 2011 at 12:35 am

Great list! I just have one question: Why isn’t Stevie on the girls’ list? You can’t have a list of rock’n’roll names and leave out Stevie Nicks!

Laura Says:

August 9th, 2011 at 12:59 am

My daughter’s name, Evie, is a famous Aussie rock song from 1974 by Stevie Wright

AJ_Bear Says:

August 9th, 2011 at 2:14 am

I had no idea that my name was a song by “The Who”! Very cool b-day gift from nameberry!
-Athena

Olivia Says:

August 9th, 2011 at 4:16 am

Gorgeous list! And just yet another reason to love Prudence – we’re big Beatles fans in our house 🙂

elizabeth Says:

August 9th, 2011 at 6:50 am

Althea; The Grateful Dead

Chelsea Says:

August 9th, 2011 at 7:46 am

I agree Stevie should be on this list! I know a girl named Stevie who is in her teens now. My boyfriend and I are huge fans of The Beatles, so I imagine it may influence our children’s names. Prudence has been my absolute favorite for a while now and Eleanor has been really growing on me lately. I’ve even thought that Rigby could be a great boys name too.

Love the idea of Zepplin for a boy, but I feel that it might be too out there for my children. Crosby is another great one, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young brings back some wonderful memories of jamming out to China Grove with my mom and siblings in the living room.

Chelsea Says:

August 9th, 2011 at 7:49 am

Wow, can you tell I’m still half asleep? Got the wrong song for Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. But still the band has equal impact on my childhood.

Lola Says:

August 9th, 2011 at 8:39 am

Well, as a Lola with a Josephine, I apparently am a fan of names with a musical link! My BFF is named Cecilia and absolutely loathed *her* song, but mine is fun and my Josephine’s is one of my favorites. Jane is a favorite because of “Sweet Jane” by the Cowboy Junkies. Nash is a family surname for me and ended up as my second boy’s second middle. I never noticed this small theme running through m family before, how neat! 😀

katybug Says:

August 9th, 2011 at 8:57 am

Great list! I wanted to add Veronica by Elvis Costello, and of course Elvis (both Presley and Costello)

katybug Says:

August 9th, 2011 at 8:58 am

And Oliver from Oliver’s Army by Elvis Costello

smurph519 Says:

August 9th, 2011 at 10:43 am

Lorelei is also the name of a Pogues song… and Aurora & Rosemary are both Foo Fighters songs, and finally, Marigold by Nirvana. <3

klcalder2 Says:

August 9th, 2011 at 10:44 am

Hey, Jude! I love that one so much that I had to use it :). Also, Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.

erika Says:

August 9th, 2011 at 10:57 am

What about “Lucy” as in “Lucy in the sky with diamonds” classic.

Marginamia Says:

August 9th, 2011 at 11:08 am

Happy to see Nona there!

I’m a huge fan of names from Beatles’ songs: Jude, Prudence, Penny Lane, Eleanor, Lucy, Desmond, Molly, Sadie, Maxwell, and my favorite–Lovely Rita! and the associated Yoko, of course (just dis a post with her this week.)

We name all our dolls after songs. The girls get so excited hearing their names while we’re dancing around! marginamia
will do a post soon on the names of our dolls/songs and others from our favorite tunes.

Fleet makes me think of the Fleet Foxes; that’s how I first thought of the name as a name.

I LOVE the Kinks! From their songs, I also like: Louie, Polly, India, Ballad, Margaret, Delilah, Bernadette, Sally and, um, I kind of wish Waterloo Sunset could be a person’s name–such a great song.

I love love love Crimson and Clover!–the song and the names, but I do like Tommy James’ version better, I have to say. Plus I love the name Tommy James– how cool is that?

The Hollies and T Rex are awesome, too. Love Eloise. and T.Rex has great mythological lyrics–so lots of inspiration there.

Virginia is an all-time favorite name of mine, too. While we’re all classic-rock on names, I love the Stone’s “Sweet Virginia”.

and we’re off to dance now to the Kinks “Louie Louie”. and I’m claiming naming rights to at least one of Nona’s new toy horses, so we can have our Waterloo Sunset. great post!

Marginamia Says:

August 9th, 2011 at 11:19 am

@smurph519– “Marigold” YES! great mention. great song.

Natalie Says:

August 9th, 2011 at 11:23 am

I’ve always secretly loved the idea of having a Caroline so I could sing Sweet Caroline to her. 🙂 Who knows, maybe someday I will!

Mcmom Says:

August 9th, 2011 at 12:42 pm

Thanks to katybug–couldn’t believe Veronica wasn’t on the list!! Marginamia–no one should consider a manufacturer of enemas a name choice (“Fleet”–guess you never had Fleet Bank in your neck of the woods–lots of potty humor abounded…) Also wanted to add “Jolene” by Dolly Parton, Mindy Smith, et al. And several friends chose “James” solely to sing their babies rockabye Sweet Baby James by James Taylor. Just to show how one-sided “unisex” naming trends are…no “Boy Named Sue” yet, huh? LOL.

RapunzelMom Says:

August 9th, 2011 at 12:52 pm

nice list! The address to Hannah’s blog doesn’t work, though

Abby Says:

August 9th, 2011 at 1:42 pm

Great list! I *love* Henley and Crosby.

Hannah, do you mind I ask where you’re from? I’d never HEARD of Donnie Iris until I moved to Pittsburgh and then, suddenly, he was everywhere. Now I’m in DC, and again – it is as if he never existed. My husband is from Michigan and claims that he was dimly aware of Mr. Iris pre-Pittsburgh.

Based on the dedicated fans he had in the Steel City, betcha an awful lot of little Leahs were named after that song, though …

hjteni Says:

August 9th, 2011 at 4:55 pm

Hey Abby,

I’m from Michigan, too, actually. But my mom is from Pittsburgh, so maybe that’s where I got my love for the song?

Pansy, I left out Stevie because in my opinion, I didn’t think it made a viable option for a modern girl. Perhaps Stevie Nicks’ full name, Stephanie, with the nickname Stevie would be better. But Stevie on its own wasn’t working for me.

In general, just to clarify, names from Nirvana songs and others like the Foo Fighters which I would gladly have included, I left out because they weren’t really classic rock bands. The Beatles, meanwhile, simply used too many good names for me to include them all. Otherwise it would have been a Beatles blog and not a classic rock blog. So I just picked the ones I like the best.

Micaela Says:

August 9th, 2011 at 7:00 pm

Cassidy; The Grateful Dead

Leslie Owen Says:

August 9th, 2011 at 7:48 pm

What about Julio from Simon & Garfunkel?

Cat Says:

August 9th, 2011 at 8:09 pm

What about Journey for a boy or girl? Love the band!

Ashlie Says:

August 9th, 2011 at 8:25 pm

Anyone heard “Her Name is Alice” by Shinedown? I fell in love with the name after Brent’s vocals.

Ashlie Says:

August 9th, 2011 at 8:26 pm

after hearing* 🙂

justme Says:

August 9th, 2011 at 11:28 pm

Sara Smile by Hall and Oates
Iris by the Goo Goo Dolls
Sheena is a punk rocker by the Ramones

I actually think that Richie Valens last name is kind of cool.

Courtney Says:

August 10th, 2011 at 12:50 am

I’m surprised to see that Lennon (after John, obviously) isn’t on here. I’ve always thought that was kind of a edgy rocker name and wouldn’t be opposed to using it with my own future kid, as long as it didn’t get shortened to Lenny…

Macy Says:

August 10th, 2011 at 8:39 am

I’d say Rio is more appropriate for a boy.

marissa breanna Says:

August 10th, 2011 at 3:34 pm

I love this post. Rock ‘n’ roll names are very, very near and dear to my heart.

However, I’m so sad that Thin Lizzy, a super classic, wasn’t attributed to Rosalie! That song is the reason Rosalie is on our list at all!

Abby Says:

August 11th, 2011 at 5:55 am

Thanks, Hannah – I knew you must have a tie to the ‘burgh. 🙂

neuilly Says:

August 11th, 2011 at 3:18 pm

I’m pretty sure that Eric Clapton did not choose Layla based on the sound, but after the legend of Layla/Leila and Majnun. Forcibly separated from her and having to see her married to another man, he essentially goes mad. And that’s similar to the song Layla…he’s driven crazy by her being with someone else. There are several different versions of the Layla tale, but that’s it in its most simplest form.

jordan-meredith Says:

August 11th, 2011 at 4:11 pm

What about Lyla by Oasis?

Or Aubrey by Bread?

Lady11 Says:

August 15th, 2011 at 6:49 am

What about Chelsea by Fratellis? (Chelsea Dagger- popular football song lol) I love it!

katela87 Says:

August 22nd, 2013 at 11:59 pm

I would’ve loved to have seen “Ruby” (from Ruby Tuesday by The Rolling Stones) on here. Yes, it is definitely a vintage name, but I’ve met quite a few little Rubys recently, and they seem to wear the name really well!

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