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The Origins of the ‘70s Biggest Bands’ Curious Names

Adam M. Young | March 2, 2023
How some of these 70's bands got their names.
If there is one guarantee in life, it’s that there’s a cool story behind the name of your favorite band. And that funky music of the ‘70s came from bands with some pretty far out names. Here, you’ll find some insight into the tales behind the titles of some of the most popular groups of the 1970s.

The Doobie Brothers

Forming in San Jose, California, in 1969, the Doobie Brothers rose to fame in the early ’70s under the leadership of frontman Tom Johnston. But before they were the Doobie Brothers, they called themselves Pud, and, rumor has it, they arrived at the name Doobie Brothers due to the guys’ affinity for doobies (a.k.a. marijuana joints).


Anyone with a radio in the 1970s or 1980s should be familiar with many AC/DC songs, all of which are rockers. Despite rumors that the initials meant “After Christ, Death Comes,” another story is far more likely: Brothers and AC/DC founders Malcolm and Angus Young claim their sister Margaret spotted the letters on an old sewing machine, standing for “alternating current/direct current.” And just like that, a legendary name was born.


Led by Steven Tyler, rock band Aerosmith formed in 1970 and originally included Tom Hamilton, Joey Kramer, Ray Tabano and Joe Perry. Allegedly, Kramer came up with the made-up word after absorbing Harry Nilsson’s album “Aerial Ballet” and studying its jacket art of a circus performer leaping from a plane. While the band watched Three Stooges and got stoned, the word “aerosmith” appeared to him. After considering names like the Hookers and Spike Jones, the band finally agreed on Aerosmith.

The Eagles

The Eagles formed in 1971 with Glenn Frey, Don Henley, Bernie Leadon and Randy Meisner. They originally performed as Teen King & the Emergencies. How the four-piece came up with “The Eagles” is up for debate, as there are several stories floating around. One, the mascot at Henley’s school was the eagle, and that’s as simple as that theory gets. Two, the band tripped on peyote in the Mojave Desert, and Leadon noted a native Indian tribe’s reverence for eagles.

Derek & The Dominos

Eric Clapton formed bluesy rockers Derek & the Dominos in London back in 1970, releasing one studio record, Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs, featuring one Duane Allman on slide guitar. Originally called the highly original title of Eric Clapton & Friends, the guys moved on from that name to Del & the Dominos—but when it was misread as Derek & the Dominos, well, it just stuck.


Debbie Harry proved women make amazing rock ‘n’ roll-punk leads when she formed Blondie in the mid-1970s. The band rose to fame with the help of the East Village scene in New York City, where CBGB was a stomping ground for the crew. Early on they called themselves Angel & the Snake, but they later decided on Blondie when Harry was continuously catcalled “blondie” by truck-driving passersby.

What’s your favorite ‘70s band name? If you missed our last post on band names from the ‘60s, check it out here.
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