The Meaning Behind the Band Name: Foo Fighters

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

The Foo Fighters have a memorable name—and not just because they’re one of the most renowned rock bands in the world. If the title wasn’t attached to such an iconic group, you might think that the Foo Fighters were a group of cartoon ninjas or wrestlers. But with a lineup of talented musicians and former Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl as a frontman, it is no surprise that the Foo Fighters are a household name. 

When Grohl appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live last year, Kimmel made a joke about his obscure band name. He introduced Grohl as “a man who has never backed down from a fight with a foo.” While their title may sound silly, Foo Fighters was not just an edgy name that the band invented. The term was used well before they existed, and you might not expect its original meaning.

What is a Foo Fighter?

“Foo fighter” was a term first coined by the United States Air Force during World War II. It referred to strange phenomena or unidentified flying objects in the sky before it was replaced by the acronym “UFO.”

Grohl revealed that when he was first recording songs for the band, he was in the midst of a UFO phase. “Not only is it a fascinating subject, but there’s a treasure trove of band names in those UFO books!” he said.

While Grohl did not have his heart set on a particular name, he knew that it needed to be plural.

“I had recorded the first record by myself, playing all the instruments. But I wanted people to think that it was a group. I figured that Foo Fighters—World War II term for UFOs—might lead people to believe that it was more than just one guy,” he said. “Silly, huh?”

The Foo-ture of the Name

Little did Grohl know that Foo Fighters would consume the next 25 years of his life. He admitted that if he had known the weight of his decision, he may have thought about it more carefully.

“Had I actually considered this to be a career, I probably would have called it something else, because it’s the stupidest fucking band name in the world,” he laughed.

Photo by Danny Clinch

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