Behind the Band Name: Queens of the Stone Age

Queens of the Stone Age is one of the most popular rock bands to come out of the early 2000s. It took numerous iterations before the famed band received its due recognition. Now known for lead singer and founder Josh Homme’s falsetto voice and obscure music video imagery, Queens of the Stone Age’s legacy has endured.

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Below, we explore the history behind the band name Queens of the Stone Age.

Meaning Behind the Name

Homme has long been a staple in the Palm Desert, California, music scene where Queens of the Stone Age originated. He was a member of the rock band Kyuss in 1987 before they disbanded in 1995. After a brief stint in Screaming Trees, Homme formed his own band, originally called Gamma Ray. They released a self-titled, two-song EP in 1996 with Homme as the principal songwriter and lead singer, alongside former Screaming Trees bassist Van Conner, former Kyuss singer John Garcia providing background vocals, drummer Victor Indrizzo and former Kyuss producer Chris Goss. A year later, the band had to change their name, on account of the German metal band Gamma Ray, formed in 1989, threatening to take legal action over the use of the name.

Goss is the one who suggested the name Queens of the Stone Age, in reference to the prehistoric era that marks the first time human beings were documented using tools predominantly made from stone. The band wanted to strike a balance between masculine and feminine in the rock music world with the name.

“Kings would be too macho,” Homme explained in an archived interview from 2000 OzzFest about the band name. “The Kings of the Stone Age wear armor and have axes and wrestle. The Queens of the Stone Age hang out with the Kings of the Stone Age’s girlfriends when they wrestle…Rock should be heavy enough for the boys and sweet enough for the girls. That way, everyone is happy and it’s more of a party. Kings of the Stone Age is too lopsided.”

The band released their first studio album under the new name with the 1998 self-titled Queens of the Stone Age, which featured “If Only Everything” from the Gamma Ray EP that was renamed “If Only.” In between the EP and album, the group released another EP, Kyuss / Queens of the Stone Age in 1997, bridging the final recordings from Kyuss and introducing Queens of the Stone Age that includes a cover of Black Sabbath’s “Into the Void.”

In 2000, Queens of the Stone Age released their breakthrough album, Rated R, which achieved critical acclaim, with Homme and bassist Nick Oliveri co-writing the majority of the songs, including the hit, “The Lost Art of Keeping a Secret.” In 2002, the band built upon their success with Songs for the Deaf, a concept album about the California desert that featured guest musician Dave Grohl on drums. The album was their first to reach the top 20 on the Billboard 200, peaking at No. 17. It includes hit singles “No One Knows” and “Go with the Flow.”

Over the course of more than two decades, Queens of the Stone Age have released seven albums, five of which have debuted inside the top 20 on the Billboard 200. …Like Clockwork, released in 2013, hit No. 1 on the chart. Their last single release was in 2017 with “The Evil Has Landed,” which reached No. 44 on the Billboard Hot Rock & Alternative Songs chart, while its predecessor, “The Way You Used to Do” hit No. 15 on the same chart.

Frontman Homme is the lone original member throughout the band’s history, with the current lineup featuring Troy Van Leeuwen, Michael Shuman, Dean Fertita and Jon Theodore.

Join the ultimate rock adventure! Grab your tickets today for Queens of the Stone Age’s 2024 tour and witness their legendary hits live.

Photo by Pedro Gomes/Getty Images

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