Editor’s note: Some parents name their kids after family members, living or dead. Others take inspiration from religion or history. But what about those of us who worship at the altar of pop culture? Back in 2010, we published Margaret Eby’s “Rock ‘n Roll Baby Name Dictionary” on Flavorwire. Today, Gotham Books releases a much-expanded version, Rock and Roll Baby Names, which details both the meanings of names and the associations they’ve picked up through pop music. For expectant parents and rock nerds alike, it’s a fascinating journey through musical history. A version of the list below appears in the book and has been reprinted by permission.
There are cool names, there are interesting and edgy names, and then there are those nicknames that make you wince a little. Avoid naming your children after these rock models at all cost, lest they be in a world of hurt on the grade school playground.
Virtuoso guitarist and Guns N’ Roses contributor Buckethead might just win the prize for the worst rock name of all time. His real name is Brian Carroll, but the thing that most people know him for is the KFC bucket and creepy white mask he wears on stage.
Jazz saxophonist Cannonball Adderley, born Julian, originally had an even worse nickname: “Cannibal,” a title bestowed upon him by his high school classmates for his impressive stomach capacity. Still, Cannonball is a little too roly-poly to be anything but the fat kid at the pool.
Chubby Checker, who introduced the world to the Twist, was born with the totally acceptable and even alliterative name Ernest Evans. His nickname “Chubby” came from his boss at Fresh Farm Poultry, and “Checker” was a play on the name of his idol, Fats Domino. He could pull it off, but anyone else might just develop a complex.
Pantera frontman Dimebag Darrell is a beloved figure among metalheads, but this name pretty much guarantees your child to a life as a two-bit drug dealer. Go with Darrell instead.
Even if you’re the biggest U2 fan in the world, you still can’t pull off a name with an article. On anyone but the permanently behatted David Evans, it just comes off as a dated macho title. Even Bono would be better.
He was born with the far more reasonable name Arnold Dorsey, but the crooner renamed himself Engelbert Humperdinck in honor of a German composer. It’s the ultimate joke name, which no bundle of joy deserves to be the butt of.
Both Fats Domino and Fats Waller used this nickname with a certain amount of swagger — the former was born Anotoine, the latter Thomas — but the same self-image problems exist as with Chubby. Nix it unless you’re determined to raise an old-timey bluesman.
Black Sabbath’s Geezer Butler, born Terence Michael, got his nickname from a slang term he used all the time in childhood. Still, the first thing that comes to mind is a grumpy old man.
Korn guitarist James Shaffer got this odd name from his toes, which apparently resemble monkey’s hands when spread. The nontraditional spelling doesn’t make it any less puzzling.
The ultimate bane of the playground, Pink Eyes is the pseudonym of hardcore band Fucked Up’s Damian Abraham. Other band nicknames are just as terrible — Gulag and Mustard Gas — but those are beyond even the most adventurous naming possibilities. We hope.
Guitarist Skunk Baxter of Steely Dan and The Doobie Brothers lends the nickname a touch of retro cool, but that won’t mean that your kid will get out of the inevitable stinky jokes.