Monday, 28 April 2014

AAA Surnames And Their Meanings (News, Views and Music 242 Top Ten)

What's in a name? Well, not a lot if your name is Marjory Slopbucket for instance, but occasionally - just occasionally - the origin of names can reveal quite a lot, defining the way we always think about an artist. Just ask John Lennon, who was so proud of his Irish genealogy he printed a whole extract about his 'name' on the back cover of his album 'Walls and Bridges'. Or just ask Cross, Wiltshire tenant, Person-who-lives-near-an-Ash-tree and 'The Young One' (better known as Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young) who deliberately used their own names in order to escape the processes of being in a 'band'. We won't cover every AAA band here (in truth I'm running a bit behind this week and need a 'top ten' I could write and research quickly!) and quite a few of the AAA surnames are so unknown I can't find anything on them across the net (including, incidentally, every single one of the Monkees except Davy Jones - you'd think there's be something on 'Peter Thorkelson' wouldn't you?!) Anyway even with cuts for timing and research issues there are still ten more examples of the surnames for members of the most interesting and best known AAA bands:
1) The Beach Boys:

The Wilson brothers is an English name meaning 'son of William', Al Jardine is a French name meaning 'garden owner', Bruce Johnston gets his name from Jonis (a 'settlement in Yorkshire') and Mike Love doesn't mean what you think it does - in fact 'Love' is a 'female wolf'!

2) The Beatles:

As Lennon so proudly announced on the back cover of 'Walls and Bridges' 'Lennon' is an Irish name meaning either 'lover' or - interestingly given a song the Beatles record in 1968 - a 'blackbird'. As a footnote Lennon scrawled an 'oh yeah?' next to the comment that 'no personages with the Lennon surname was ever involved in Irish politics on either side' from the 1972 official Geneology book; later editions were modified to mention Lennon's name and 'musical acts'. McCartney is a Scottish name that means 'son of a hero', Harrison an English name that means 'son of Harry' - itself a derivative of 'Henry' - and Starkey (Ringo's real name) means 'firm and unyielding' ('No more autographs...peace and love!')

3) The Grateful Dead:

Rather sweetly 'Garcia' means 'The Bear' - the bear is the second most commonDead logo after their dancing skeletons, although it actually refers to the nickname of the band's engineer; in his later, more 'cuddly' years, Garcia was likened to a 'bear' by some of the music press too. 'Weir' means 'a North English river, possibly a dam', Hart means 'a fast runner' ('Long distance runner what you standing there for?') and McKernan (Pigpen's real surname) is an Irish name meaning 'son of a lord'. Sadly I can't find any mention of the surnames 'Kreutzmann' or 'Lesh'- perhaps one of you readers can help?!

4) The Kinks:

The Davies brothers' family name means 'son of David' in English or, alternatively, 'beloved' (ahh!) The other two founding members, meanwhile, have two of the most fascinating names on the list: 'Avory' means an 'Elf Ruler' in German (!) - he's not that tall is he?! - and 'Quaife' is an French name for a close fitting cap that was worn by archers at the Battle of Hastings. So the rhythm section of arguably the most 'English' band in history originally came from France and Germany...
5) The Moody Blues:
'Laine' (as in Denny) is a Staffordshire name meaning 'dweller of the lane' and shows Denny's Birmingham family didn't move that far. 'Hayward' means 'fence watcher' or 'guardian'. Lodge means 'a cabin or place of rest'. Pinder means 'a person who holds cattle within a pound'. Thomas means 'twin brother'. And Edge means 'a person who makes a living by working on a steep slope such as a shepherd'. So there you go.

6) Oasis:

Despite beating up every kid in the neighbourhood with an Irish accent, Mancunian Noel Gallagher (and brother Liam) are both of Irish descent where 'Gallagher' is a combination of two ancient words for 'foreigner' and 'help'. 'McCarroll' is also Irish, although for 'Viking' interestingly. 'Arthurs' (Bonehead's real surname) means 'hero'. 'White' means 'pale haired or innocent'. 'Archer' means, well, 'Archer'. And 'Bell' means either 'someone who lives under a church bell' (isn't that a church mouse?) or 'handsome'.

7) Pink Floyd:

Shockingly, 'Waters' has nothing to do with water - Roger's name actually derives from an ancient English derivative of 'Walter'. Barratt is a German word for 'bear' (which makes him a - very very distant - cousin of Jerry Garcia). Gilmour means 'a servant of the Virgin Mary'. Wright means 'a maker of machinery, usually something involving wood'. And Mason means a mason, working in stone.

8) The Rolling Stones:

'Jagger' is a Yorkshire term for a 'pack' or 'load' (which might explain Mick's dancing). 'Richard(s)' means a person with the first name 'Richard' which itself is a combination of the words 'power' and 'strength' (or 'rich' and 'hard', if you prefer). 'Jones' comes from the English word for 'son of John/Joan'. Watts is another derivative of 'Walter' (making Charlie and Roger Waters extremely distant relatives). Wyman is a name that combines 'war' and 'protection'. Wood is a name that inevitable means 'forest'. And Taylor inevitably means 'tailor'. 

9) Simon and Garfunkel:

Or 'snub-nosed and Carbuncle' as we might have to start calling them from now on! Interestingly both names are the only ones on our list that are Jewish in origin!

10) The Who: 

A Daltrey is a French term for a 'high bank'. Townshend means - you guessed it - a person who lives at the end of a town. An Entwistle is someone who originally lives in a village of that name in Blackburn. However, you probably won't guess the origin of the surname 'Moon', which has nothing to do with astronomy but is in fact a French name for someone who lived in 'La Moyen'. No wonder John Entwistle drew his colleague as 'slightly French looking' on the 'Who By Numbers' LP!

And that's that for another week. Join us next issue when we'll be bringing you more news, views and music - whatever the name!

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