Rock & Roll Baby Names That Go To Eleven
Jagger. Hendrix. Zeppelin. Lennon. Those names mean more than music. They're icons, attitudes, whole ways of living…and now, baby names. Names steeped in rock & roll history, from the Beatles to Nirvana, are one of the fastest-rising baby name styles in America.
Photo by Larry Hulst/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Some snapshots of the trend in action:
• An American girl today is more likely to be named Presley than Jessica or Rebecca. A boy is more likely to be Axl than Chad.
• As recently as 1998, the name Hendrix was statistically nonexistent. Today it's a top-500 hit.
• The word credence, meaning "belief," is not used as a name. But the creative spelling Creedence, as in the band Creedence Clearwater Revival, is now used for both boys and girls.
• Last year, just as many American girls were named Zeppelin as Beyoncé.
• Even stylistically unlikely rock names like Kiedis and Reznor now register on the stats.
The rise of rock & roll names is a phenomenon unto itself, distinct from "celebrity names." Normal celebrity name trends surge with the burst of publicity around a new star. Most go on to fade nearly as quickly (see the graphs of Miley and Rihanna). The rock names are different. Not one name on the rock & roll names list below took off when the band or star rose to fame. Beatlemania didn't inspire little McCartneys, and the grunge era didn't see a wave of little Vedders. The names rose decades later, after the artists' works had begun to take on the mantle of "classic" or "iconic."
That makes these names homages, not only to the specific artists but to the spirit of rock itself. It's a famously independent, rebellious spirit, and so no two names on the list march in lockstep. Consider the varied messages the names Axl, Lennon, Marley and Cobain project. But whether a family's motto is "All You Need is Love" or "Born to Be Wild," they're more likely than ever before to present it in baby name form via a classic rock name.
Each name below was bestowed on at least 5 American boys or girls last year, some on hundreds or thousands. Especially popular names are indicated with an * (top 1000 name) or ** (top 500).
THE NEW ROCK & ROLL BABY NAME HALL OF FAME:
Axl (M*) – Axl Rose of Guns N' Roses
Bonham (M) – John Bonham of Led Zeppelin
Bowie (M, F) – David Bowie
Cobain (M) – Kurt Cobain of Nirvana
Creedence (M, F) – Creedence Clearwater Revival
Crue (M) – Mötley Crüe
Everly (F**, M) – The Everly Brothers
Halen (M, F) – Van Halen/Eddie Van Halen
Hendrix (M**, F) – Jimi Hendrix
Isley (F, M) – The Isley Brothers
Jagger (M*, F) – Mick Jagger of The Rolling Stones
Jett (M**, F) – Joan Jett
Joplin (F) – Janis Joplin
Kiedis (M) – Anthony Kiedis of Red Hot Chili Peppers
Lennon (F*, M*) – John Lennon of The Beatles
Marley (F**, M*) – Bob Marley
McCartney (F, M) – Paul McCartney of The Beatles
Nirvana (F) – Nirvana
Presley (F**, M) – Elvis Presley
Reznor (M) – Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails
Santana (M*, F) – Santana/Carlos Santana
Seger (M) – Bob Seger
Vedder (M) – Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam
Weiland (M) – Scott Weiland of Stone Temple Pilots
Zeppelin (M, F) – Led Zeppelin