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What Abbreviated Band Names are Actually Short For

10cc. Member Lol Creme would always ask band mate Kevin Godley what channel Comedy Central was on their cable system because he was very forgetful. Godley would get so frustrated that he had to tell Crème the answer (channel 10) that he’d scream, “10! CC!”


ABBA. While trying to think of a band name one day, members Anna, Benny, Bjorn, and Agnatha wandered into a field. While in that field, Anna, Benny, Bjorn, and Agnatha and saw a sheep that talked backwards, and it talking to a sheep that talked in the regular fashion. “AB!” Anna, Benny, Bjorn, and Agnatha heard the backwards sheep to the forward talking sheep. Then, Anna, Benny, Bjorn, and Agnatha heard the forward-speaking sheep reply, “BA!” Anna, Benny, Bjorn, and Agnatha put the “AB” together with the “BA” and formed “ABBA.”


AC/DC. When the band was founded in the early ’70s, Malcolm Young wanted to name the band “A.C. and the Slaters” after A.C. Slater, his favorite Saved By the Bell character. But his brother Angus Young wanted to name the group “Direct Current,” his favorite kind of electricity. In the end, they compromised and used both.


Alt-J. The band members all went to high school with a really cool guy named Jeremy who wore Doc Martens and dyed his hair with Manic Panic and was just so alternative that everybody called him Alternative Jeremy, or Alt-J for short. 


The B-52s. One day while rehearsing, singer Kate Pierson went outside for a cigarette and her B-52 haircut accidentally disturbed a beehive, and 52 bees took up residence in her B-52 hairdo. The band is named after the 52 bees, not the B-52 haircut.


KMFDM. Contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t stand for “Kill Mother-Fucking Depeche Mode.” It stands for “Kiss My Friends, Depeche Mode.”


The E Street Band. Bruce Springsteen’s legendary backing group was named after Eel Street, the main thoroughfare in the Underwater Kingdom, where they all grew up.


MGMT. It’s actually “Assistant MGMT” but they wanted everybody to think they’re bigshots.


U2. The name combines Bono’s two favorite bands and biggest influences: British reggae cover act UB40, and 2 Unlimited, the electronic group who did that “Y’all ready for this?” song you hear at hockey games.


UB40. The band emerged fully formed from a cave one day in 1987. None of its members had any idea how they got there, or how they suddenly knew how to play weak reggae covers of Motown hits. They simply…were. The origin of their name remains unknown — it was written on the wall of the cave in what was later determined to be deer blood.


ZZ Top. It’s short for Zed Zed Tottenham, the first club this quintessential British band played in their hometown of Newcastle, England.


Written by Brian Boone

Brian Boone

Brian Boone is a contributor to Funny or Die, Someecards, Splitsider, The Chive, and Looper, and his work has appeared on McSweeney’s, StarWipe, and many other fine humor and pop culture destinations. He’s the author of several delightful books, wrote a musical about pirates, and came in third on Jeopardy! once. He will clog your Twitter timeline with dad jokes.

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