The Beatles went through several names before landing on one that would grant them iconic status. From the Black Jacks to the Quarry Men, several versions of the name preceded the group. So why the Beatles? Why name a band after a despised little creature? While its origins are much discussed among Beatles fans, theories have led to the same result: The Beatles just felt “pun-ny”.
Theories behind the band’s name
Although there are many theories about the origins of the name, it is widely believed that the name comes from Lennon’s first wife, Cynthia. She claimed the band came up with the name during a drunken “brainstorming session”, inspired by Buddy Holly’s band The Crickets. Former member Stuart Sutcliffe is then to have thought of the name The Beatles.
However, a good band lore wouldn’t be complete without several theories to fight over. According to Beatles publicist Derek Taylor, the name comes from the 1953 film “The Savage”, with Marlon Brando. Taylor’s memoir details that Brando’s character referred to his leather jacket gang as “young beetles”. And the rest is history. Although quite a tempting theory, it is not completely infallible. “The wild” was banned in the UK until 1967, so it’s unlikely the band saw it in the early 60s when the band’s name solidified.
Even with all the theories, The Beatles themselves were often cryptic when asked about the name. Asked about it in an early interview, Lennon said, “I just thought about it.” Really specific, John.
However, Dave Persails, author of The Beatles Anthology, “The Long and Winding Road”, discovered another response from Lennon. Giving another quick response, Lennon said the name came to him in a vision.
“A man appeared on a flaming pie and told them, ‘From this day on, you’re Beatles with an A,'” Lennon said.
A bunch of Pun-ny
A lot of theories and random answers, however, lead to the same result. Whether inspired by Buddy Holly’s band, movie characters, or a weird dream, the band has made several claims about the spelling of the band’s name. It was just a joke.
Radio personality Jim Steck of Los Angeles radio station KRLA 1110 interviewed the band during their 1964 US tour. In a special called “Hear the Beatles Tell All”, Steck interviewed all of the members and Lennon separately for a promotional edition of their catalog.
Asked, again, about the origins of the band’s name, Lennon said the spelling was deliberate. They managed to find the name related to the bug they were looking for, but how did they make it different? By making the name the biggest pun of all time.
“It was rhythm and beetles and when you said it people were thinking creepy things, and when you read it it was rhythm music,” Lennon said.
With the story of Lennon’s humorous answers, who can tell where the origins of the iconic band really come from.
Do you believe the theories? Let us know and comment below.
Photo by John Pratt/Keystone/Getty Images