10 Famed Bands With Offensive Names

10 Famed Bands With Offensive Names

Eddie Vedder
Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder, Pinkpop Festival, Holland 1992. Photo by Gie Knaeps/Getty Images.

Since band names often begin as a bad joke among a bunch of jamming friends, it’s little wonder some monikers look pretty wack when these acts graduate to stadiums, breakfast television appearances and billboard ads. While their familiarity often means their disturbing pedigree is put to the back of the mind, here are 10 famous bands with names which have shocked or surprised.


Photo by George Rose/Getty Images.

There’s almost 50 years of disagreement over the origins of the name 10cc, the group behind '70s mega-hits "Dreadlock Holiday," "I’m Not In Love" and "Rubber Bullets." Christened by their producer and label owner, Jonathan King, it’s often been suggested that 10cc is a reference to the amount of sperm in the average male ejaculation (10 cubic centimetres is above the mean, therefore insinuating the band were potent sexual stallions). While King (who served time as a sex offender in the 2000s) has denied the charge, band member, Lol Creme confirmed the sexual nature of the name in a 1988 Pulse magazine interview when he said, "We thought it was perfect!" 

Well, what would you expect from a man named Lol Creme?


If their album covers and music videos featuring half-clad pin-up vixens weren’t enough of a clue, '80s rock poodles, Whitesnake existed in a smutty fantasy realm, their name betrayed their skirt-chasing schoolyard schtick. Deep Purple veteran and Whitesnake frontman, David Coverdale confirmed the band was named after a nickname for his penis, "Probably if I was from Asia it would be a different colour. But being a Yorkshire lad and all..."

The Dead Kennedys

? & The Mysterians drummer, manager and journalist, Mark Bliesener coined the name The Dead Kennedys as a joke on his sister’s teddy bear's name, Ted Kennedy. He mentioned it to future TDK frontman, Jello Biafra in the ‘70s while chatting about UK punk bands such as Sex Pistols and The Vibrators pushing the naming convention limits, calling it "the greatest band name no one could ever use. In 1978, when I heard of the fantastic first Dead Kennedys shows, I thought it was so cool that the name was finally being used," Mark said in 2011. Their provocative name meant The Dead Kennedys would often be forced to play under pseudonyms in their formative years, with the San Francisco Chronicle linking the moniker to “tastelessness reaching its nadir.”

Steely Dan

Combining the literate and perverted, the group overseen by jazz-rock maestros, Donald Fagen and Walter Becker were named after a steam-powered strap-on dildo in William S Burroughs’ 1959 novel Naked Lunch. "We just wanted to give the band a little more thrust than most other bands," Fagen opined, no doubt finding it difficult to keep a straight face.


Punk icon, Ian MacKaye's DIY post-hardcore group Fugazi took their name from a book about the horrors of Vietnam. In Mark Baker’s Nam, veterans used the acronym Fugazi for fellow soldiers who ended up in a body bag: "Fucked Up, Got Ambushed, Zipped In." Barely a decade had passed since the end of the Vietnam War when MacKaye instigated Fugazi in 1986, so the name held powerful weight as an anti-war edict – even in its abbreviated form.

Joy Division

Ian Curtis
Photo by Rob Verhorst/Redferns.

Due to an act of a similar name in London, Manchester’s Warsaw were forced to change their name from the grim Eastern Bloc locale Bowie had referenced on Low. Things only got grimmer with Joy Division. Pulled from the annals of World War II history, Karol Cetinsky’s House Of Dolls book refers to the ‘Joy Division’ as the wing of a Nazi concentration camp housing female captives forced into prostitution with officers and staff. Frontman, Ian Curtis would read extracts from House Of Dolls while the band performed their song "No Love Lost." The choice of the band’s next moniker when they transitioned to New Order following Curtis’ suicide did little to quell suggestions they were championing rum Fascist attitudes.

The Pogues

Originally known as Pogue Mahone, The Pogues lifted their title from James Joyce’s lauded tome Ulysses. While it might sound highbrow, the name actually translates from Irish as ‘kiss my arse.’ The English band shortened their initial name after complaints from BBC listeners, but in 1995 they regressed to their roots by releasing an album titled Pogue Mahone. It could have been worse – frontman Shane MacGowan’s earlier band was The Nipple Erectors.

Machine Gun Fellatio

KK Juggy
Photo by Martin Philbey/Redferns.

We couldn’t leave out Australian provocateurs Machine Gun Fellatio from this list. While arguably more ridiculous than offensive, Machine Gun Fellatio’s name played a part in the black-bans and censorship the Sydney group experienced during their early 2000s run. For less open-minded media channels the band’s name was commonly reduced to the acronym MGF, although it was hardly likely that Radio National was ever going to put “Mutha Fukka On A Motorcycle” on high rotation either way. Fact: in spite of the offensive name dramas and nude stunts, Machine Gun Fellatio created some timeless songs in their eight years of pop terrorism.

Limp Bizkit

Confirming his nu-metal position as an unpleasant, overgrown teenager, Fred Durst’s band took their name from a masturbation game. ‘Limp Biscuit’ refers to the delightful male pastime of racing to ejaculate on a cracker with a bunch of pals – the last to achieve climax eats the jizzy Jatz. And don’t even start on the euphemisms behind the Bizkit’s multi-platinum album Chocolate Starfish And The Hot Dog Flavored Water...


Pearl Jam

Eddie Vedder has suggested the Seattle grunge icons took their name from a preserve cooked up by his great-grandmother Pearl Brunner, but that seems about as likely as anyone rating Lightning Bolt as their favourite Pearl Jam album. Reddit features a number of discussions about the origins of the band’s name, with many fans believing ‘pearl jam’ to be a euphemism for semen. The band has never confirmed this explanation, instead offering questionable alternative explanations such as the name stemming from watching a Neil Young jam. Zzzzzz.

Have a couple more examples to add to the list of disreputable band names? Comment on our Facebook page, here! 

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