Behind the Band Name: The Flaming Lips

Colorful lyrics, otherworldly synths, and wild arrangements make up the psychedelic alt-rock delirium that is The Flaming Lips. For years, the band—presently consisting of Wayne Coyne, Steven Drozd, Derek Brown, Matt Kirksey, and Nicholas Ley—transfixed underground audiences with their weird and wonderful style.

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With their breakthrough in the mid-’90s, the world was opened up to their eccentric sound, exciting stage presence, and unusual name —The Flaming Lips.

Behind the Name

As many musical origins go, the band was formed, their sound was there, but their name was nonexistent.

“Back in 1983 when we were approaching our first gig … We really didn’t know what we were gonna be called,” frontman Coyne told SPIN, recalling several try-on names like Tijuana Toads, the Corporation, and the Firm.

“It was still sort of the punk era back then,” he said, “but we didn’t want to be called something too political like the Dead Kennedys. I’d read somewhere about a group called the Flaming Hands, which was a name I’d liked, and that led to the Flaming Lips.”

From movies and drug references to cold sores and cunnilingus, there are several theories surrounding the nonsensical moniker’s origins.

Privy to the speculations, Coyne continued, telling the outlet, “But I’ve had a lot of people come up to me and tell me that they really know where the name comes from. Some folks have told me that I got the name from an old Fred Astaire musical that it supposedly shows up in. Others said we took it from a quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson.

“Nope, it happened like I said it did,” he confirmed. “I even remember making a flyer for the show where I cut out a picture of a woman with her legs spread and put a mouth over her, uh, parts—so there was this idea of a throbbing orifice. It just proves that if a man is completely left to his own devices, he’ll always go straight for vaginas.”

Photo credit: Blake Studdard/Warner Records

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