Urban Legend? What’s a Steely Dan, a UB40, & Level 42?

“FM (No Static At All)”     Steely Dan

steely dan name origin thrillBands like Bon Jovi and Santana, kept it simple and named the band after their leader.   But some groups went ultra-creative in deciding on their band’s name.    Example #1:  Steely Dan, the 70’s jazz/rock-fusion band famous for their dual masterpieces, Aja and Gaucho.   The duo, Donald Fagen and Walter Becker, would obsessive over their music, often spending years in the studio perfecting their final mix.  Lead singer, Donald Fagen, suffered from stage fright and they rarely performed live.  Yet, this shy, conservative style went out the window when it came time to name their band.   In the William S. Burroughs novel, Naked Lunch, he mentions a strap-on sexual product called a Steely Dan III from Yokahoma.     The band chose the name, Steely Dan, and music historians still get a laugh at the outrageous inspiration.

“CAN’T HELP FALLING IN LOVE”   UB40 With Chrissy Hynde

ub40 nameExample #2:   UB40, with over 70 million records sold worldwide, the U.K. band is one of the most influential reggae bands of the last 30 years.    Where did they get the name UB40?  Was it the initials of the band’s leader?  Nope, Ali Campbell’s name doesn’t fit.  Is it a pun for You Be 40?   Strike Two.   UB40 is actually an abbreviation for England’s unemployment form.   If you’re out of work and want help from the government, you need to fill out a Unemployment Benefits,  Form #40!


42 hitchhikers guide to universeWhat is the meaning of life and the universe?  If you’ve ever watched the Sci-Fi classic, “The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy”, writer Douglas Adams proclaimed it’s the number 42.   The New Wave band loved the novel and wanted to use 42 for the band’s name.  Their lawyers said it needs to be longer so Level was added to the name.  Rumors have persisted that the name came from the tallest car park in the world, but the band verified the Sci-Fi inspiration in a radio interview.