(Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

For Presidents’ Day–or any day–here’s a bit of Presidents rock: bands that directly or indirectly took their names from U.S. Presidents.


Are you old enough to remember when Presidents’ Day was two separate holidays? From 1879 through 1970, Washington’s birthday–February 22, 1732–was celebrated as a holiday in the United States. There were also states that celebrated Lincoln’s birthday as a holiday every February the 12th. In 1968, the Uniform Monday Holiday Act combined the two into Presidents’ Day, to be celebrated on the third Monday in February.


Here in Massachusetts, the holiday always falls during the February Vacation week that public school students in the Commonwealth get every school year. This was always a special time for me, as I share a birthday with George Washington. So every year I was in school, with the exception of 5th grade and 11th grade, if I remember correctly, my birthday fell during the vacation week so I didn’t have to go to school. Best birthday gift ever.


Presidents Rock: 7 Band Names Inspired by U.S. Presidents

So now that you have a bit of local history on the Presidents’ Day holiday, let’s get into a bit of rock and roll history and where that intersects with some American presidents. Below you’ll find a list of seven bands whose names are inspired by–in some way, shape, or form–United States Presidents.


Some of the bands you’ll likely be familiar with. A few you might not be, or you might have forgotten. And perhaps I’ve forgotten a few obvious ones, too. If that’s the case, hit me up and maybe I’ll add your find to my list. If anything, now you’ll know the story behind a few band names you might not know the story behind. And those stories are always cool stories to know.

  • The Presidents of the United States of America

    I mean, it doesn’t get any more obvious than PUSA, as they’ve also been called. The 3-piece alt rock band formed in Seattle in 1993 and had a hard time standing out in the grunge scene. Legend has it that Mark Sandman of Boston band Morphine pulled random strings off of the band’s guitars and told them to go write some songs. “Lump” was one of those songs.

  • Dead Kennedys

    The Bay area punk band was founded in 1978 and went on to help define the punk scene of the day and inspire scores of punk bands to come. Punk rock has always been political by nature, but the Kennedy’s political satire and criticism of American authority went far beyond their cheekily offensive name and permeated their music throughout.

  • Reagan Youth

    Formed in Queens in 1980 by singer Dave Insurgent and guitarist Paul Cripple, the band had instant punk cred: Dave and Paul went to Forest Hills High School, the same high school as the Ramones. NYC’s Reagan Youth took things a step further than their west coast peers, as they were full-on anarcho-punks. The Reagan regime of the ’80s brought that out in bands.

  • Bush

    U.K. second-wave grunge act Bush got their name from Shepherd’s Bush, London. That’s where the band used to live, you see. But they formed in 1992 at the tail-end of George H.W. Bush’s one-term presidency, and they had their first real success on U.S. alternative radio, so everyone assumed they had taken their name from the American president.

  • The Nixons

    The Nixons actually formed before Bush–in Oklahoma City in 1989–but they didn’t release their first album until 1995. Nor did they see as much commercial success as the British band. But much like Bush, they have a name that’s thought to be presidential, but isn’t actually. Singer Zac Malloy just wanted a name with an “X” in it that would look cool on a t-shirt logo.

  • Linkin Park

    It’s the Bush saga all over again. When L.A. nu-metalers Linkin Park debuted in 2000, everyone assumed their purposeful misspelling of Lincoln was a riff on the president. But no, it was inspired by a place name. Frontman Chester Bennington would drive by Lincoln Park in Santa Monica on the way to rehearsal and thought it would make for a cool band name. Just with a different spelling, of course.

  • The Woodrow Wilsons

    Props to my pal Matt. He was in an Boston-area indie rock band called the Woodrow Wilsons in the aughts. You can still check out their music on Bandcamp.

    According to the Seasonal Tilt of the Earth, by The Woodrow Wilsons

    According to the Seasonal Tilt of the Earth by The Woodrow Wilsons, released 30 May 2008 1. Dog Song 2. Night From Leavin' 3. Airport Song 4. Stone 5. 13.7 Billion 6. Bad Chemicals 7. Like a Ball Bearing 8. New Year's 9. The Sopranos

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