5 Bands Named After Their Home States, Cities — and a Continent

Nazareth was actually from Scotland yet named itself after the biblical city of Israel. The new romantic-era Japan, featuring David Sylvain and the late Mick Karn were actually England natives and pulled their name from a travel brochure on the floor before their first gig. Inspired by electronic music coming out of Europe (i.e. Kraftwerk), Berlin leaned on the German capital as their band name.

Videos by American Songwriter

[RELATED: 6 Bands Named After Places They Aren’t From]

Some bands have had a connection to city, state, or country for one reason or another, while other monikers came from their roots.

Here are five bands that named themselves after their home states, cities — and even an entire continent.

1. Kansas

Known for their early 1970s rock classics “Dust in the Wind” and “Carry on Wayward Son,” Kansas pulled their name right from their home state. Formed in Topeka, Kansas in 1970, the band had become a major headlining act by the late ’70s, following the success of “Carry On Wayward Son,” which peaked at No. 11 on the Billboard Hot 100.

[RELATED: The Story Behind the Autobiographical Kansas Hit “Carry On Wayward Son”]

At first, high-school friends, guitarist Kerry Livgren, bassist Dave Hope, and drummer Phil Ehart, called their band Kansas then changed it to White Clover after adding classically trained violinist Robby Steinhardt. As they maneuvered through some lineup shifts, they briefly called themselves Kansas I, before returning to Kansas.

The band, which still features founding Kansas drummer Ehart and longtime guitarist Rich Williams, released their 16th album, The Absence of Presence, in 2020.

2. Chicago

Formed in February 1967 in Chicago, Illinois, they originally called themselves The Big Thing, then Chicago Transit Authority, before landing on their city of Chicago in 1969, following the release of their self-titled debut album. By the mid-’70s through late 1980s, Chicago had a string of No. 1 hits, including the Peter Cetera-penned “If You Leave Me Now” in 1976 and “Hard to Say I’m Sorry” from 1982, along with their 1988 power ballad “Look Away,” written by Diane Warren.

In 2014, the band’s 1969 debut album, Chicago Transit Authority, was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame, and two years later Chicago was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

Founding members, vocalist and keyboardist Robert Lamm, trumpeter Lee Loughnane, and trombonist James Pankow continue to record and tour with the band, and Chicago released their 26th album, Chicago XXXVIII: Born for This Moment, in 2022.

3. Boston

Straight out of the capital of Massachusetts, the rockers decided to pay homage to their home state, after the name Boston was suggested by their producer John Boylan and engineer Warren Dewey. In 1976, Boston’s self-titled debut shot them directly into arena rock heaven with the hit “More Than a Feeling,” which was written by guitarist Tom Scholz.

[RELATED: The Stately Story Behind the Band Name Boston]

Throughout the decades, Boston also became known for songs “Feelin’ Satisfied” “Amanda,” “Peace of Mind,” “Smokin,’” “Don’t Look Back,” and “A Man I’ll Never Be,” among other rock gems within their catalog.

Boston has sold more than 75 million records worldwide, including 31 million in the U.S. alone, making them one of the world’s best-selling music acts. The band released their sixth album, Life, Love & Hope, in 2013.

4. Florida Georgia Line

At first Florida Georgia Line’s Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley were trying to think of a moniker around peaches and oranges but went back to their home states—instead of home state fruits. The country duo landed on Florida Georgia Linessince Kelley was from Ormond Beach, Florida and Hubbard hails from Monroe, Georgia. The line just got added in the end.

“I can’t remember—something peach and then an orange,” said Kelley in 2014. “We were thinking states and it was probably 2:30 or 3 in the morning. We were all at the house and we’d been playing writers’ rounds and were like, ‘Well, if we’re going to be a duo, we’re going to take this thing seriously, we need a name.'”

[RELATED: 5 Songs You Didn’t Know Brian Kelley Wrote for Other Artists]

Kelley continued, “We had to stop showing up as Brian and Tyler. We needed a name, so we put our heads together and said ‘I want to represent where I’m from and you want to represent where you’re from.’ Two states got thrown out, and then the ‘Line’ and it kind of stuck. It never felt like we should change it.”

5. Europe

In their first incarnation, Swedish rockers Europe called themselves Force. Before entering the Swedish rock talent contest, Rock-SM, in 1982, the band changed their name to Europe. Vocalist Joey Tempest ended up winning the Best Lead Singer award, while John Norum was christened Best Guitarist. Though the band is technically from the continent of Europe, they actually pulled their moniker from Deep Purple’s 1975 live album Made in Europe.

The band shot to stardom in the mid to late-’80s with their “Space Oddity”-inspired hit “The Final Countdown” and power ballad “Carrie,” and released their 11th album, Walk the Earth, in 2017.

Photos of Kansas (1982) by Getty Images/Bob Riha, Jr.

Leave a Reply

Zac Brown Band Pays Tribute to Robbie Robertson with Cover of “The Weight”