Edmond attorney and first-time author Greg Metzer poses with his book “Rock Band Name Origins” in his home office. (Photo by Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman.)
From Sunday’s Living section of The Oklahoman. To hear an audio clip of Greg Metzer talking about his book, click here.
Edmond attorney shares fascination with origins of band names
EDMOND – Before picking the name the Grateful Dead, legendary psychedelic rocker Jerry Garcia preferred a more rhythmic moniker: Mythical Ethical Icicle Tricycle.
“The Grateful Dead is way better. Their entire history would have been changed if they had done that,” according to Greg Metzer.
While he doesn’t care for Garcia’s first choice, Metzer, 47, enjoys a good behind-the-music story so much that he wrote his first book on them.
The Edmond attorney’s recently published reference guide “Rock Band Name Origins: The Stories of 240 Groups and Performers” tells how some of the most popular rock bands, pop groups and unusually dubbed solo artists of the 1960s-2000s got their names.
“It’s kind of like giving birth; everybody had a different take on it,” said Metzer from his home office, where framed autographs from Prince, Madonna and Fleetwood Mac adorn the walls.
“It is a watershed event in every group’s existence. I mean, they have to have a name and a lot of them don’t give it a lot of thought until they have to.”
The self-described “rock snob” got the idea for the book in 2006 while listening to local radio show “Rick and Brad.” They were talking about the name Nickelback, which came out of frontman Chad Kroeger’s days as a Starbucks cashier.
Fascinated, Metzer researched and wrote about 300 words on how one of his favorite bands, the Eagles, picked their name.
“I’ve always wanted to write a book, and I finally found a subject that interested me enough and I thought other people would be interested in, too,” he said.
Each chapter covers a different band, detailing the genesis of the band’s name, along with its best-known song, founding date, original and later members.
Through his research, he uncovered bizarre discarded names (Mythical Ethical Icicle Tricycle is just one) odd naming trends (Pearl Jam and other modern bands are secretive about their name origins) and convoluted stories (he used a flowchart for Heart).
“There have been great bands with lousy names and lousy bands with great names. … The talent of the band will override the name of the band any day,” he said.