The 40 Greatest Band Names of All Time
20 The 13th Floor Elevators    

Known Origins: In olden times, garage bands just picked ordinary plural nouns for names. So when former members of the Spades and the Lingsmen joined forces in Austin in 1965, drummer John Ike Walton suggested “the Elevators.” Clementine Hall, the wife of lyricist/electric jug player Tommy Hall, and the band’s surrogate mother figure, added “13th Floor,” riffing off the superstitious building owners’ practice of not assigning that unlucky number — a perfectly spooky touch for the ominous night-trippers.

Why It’s Great: The Elevators’ name taught bands that hinting at some arcane supernatural knowledge could spook both nervous squares (“What’re they, Satan-worshippers or something?”) and enrapture stoned kids (“They’re talking about elevators to nowhere, man — or maybe to an another plane of existence entirely!”) Some fans also have noted that the 13th letter is M, the first letter in “marijuana” — further proof of the endless, obsessive theorizing that the right band name and the right substance can generate. (P, I, WP) K.H.

19 Throbbing Gristle    

Known Origins: If you don’t have your urban dick-tionary handy, member Cosey Fanni Tutti broke it down matter-of-factly in a 1978 interview: “Throbbing Gristle is Yorkshire slang for an erection.” When asked why they chose that as a name, Genesis P-Orridge replied, “Because it was daft.”

Why It’s Great: Evocative and provocative, it’s Chaucer-level as far as wiener jokes go. And the idea of Throbbing Gristle really couldn’t be more appropriate for a formless, pulsating primal noise that equates the throbbing of sex with the throbbing of the headaches that often thwart it. P-Orridge especially relished how writers would over-intellectualize the band, yet be forced to pop his boner into their prose, turning their highfalutin arguments instantly absurd. (P, I, T) C.W.