It’s not at all unheard of for a band to title an album after themselves. Particularly for debut releases, this can be a simple yet effective way to get a group’s name into the public eye for as many people to get familiar with as possible.

But what about taking it a step further and titling just one song after yourself? It’s certainly a less common practice — and things can get a little confusing when self-titled tracks are placed on self-titled albums — but plenty of bands have done it.

We’re taking a look at 26 instances in which a band has recorded a song named after themselves.

1. “Anthrax
From: Fistful of Metal (1984)

Interestingly, “Anthrax” does not mention the band’s name anywhere in its lyrics, only in the title, which appeared on their debut album, Fistful of Metal. It was written by Neil Turbin, Scott Ian and Dan Lilker. Not long after the release of the album, both Turbin and Lilker were booted out of the band.

 

2. “Bad Company
From: Bad Company (1974)

Bad Company ended up with a song named after themselves mostly because it seemed like, well, a fun idea. “I think because it had never really been done, as far as I knew,” Paul Rodgers told Spinner in 2010. “I thought it was interesting to come out as a brand-new band with its own theme song.”

 

3. “Black Sabbath
From: Black Sabbath (1970)

Some people write songs about their dreams, others, like Geezer Butler of Black Sabbath, write them about far creepier things that reveal themselves at night. As the story goes, Butler awoke one evening to a shadowy figure standing at the end of his bed. He told Ozzy Osbourne what he’d seen, who promptly used it as inspiration for the lyrics to “Black Sabbath.”

 

4. “Blue Oyster Cult
From: Imaginos (1988)

Blue Oyster Cult’s Imaginos, their 11th album, was a long time coming, taking close to eight years to finish. (The first incarnation of the LP was even rejected by CBS in 1984.) You’ll probably want to listen to the album in full, since it’s one of the band’s wilder concept releases, and by the time one gets to “Blue Oyster Cult” on the second side of the album, a lot has taken place.

 

5. “Bo Diddley”
From: 1955 Single

Ask any number of classic rock musicians about their influences and there’s a high chance the name Bo Diddley will come up. More specifically, they may note something called the Bo Diddley beat, a particular sense of R&B rhythm that Diddley first introduced on this 1955 song titled after himself.

 

6. “The Boomtown Rats”
From: Back to Boomtown: Classic Rats Hits (2013)

In 2013, the Boomtown Rats released Back to Boomtown: Classic Rats Hits, their first album since their reunification that year. It was chock full of fan favorites, plus two new tunes, including “The Boomtown Rats.”

 

7. “Canned Heat
From: Hallelujah (1969)

“Canned Heat” by Canned Heat is not to be confused with “Canned Heat” by the British funk group Jamiroquai. The namesake song was released on 1969’s Hallelujah, but it wasn’t actually Canned Heat that wrote the original song, called “Canned Heat Blues.” That credit goes to a Delta blues musician named Tommy Johnson and yes, Canned Heat took their name specifically from this.

 

8. “Chicago
From: Night & Day: Big Band (1995)

Here’s another one not written by the band itself, but a namesake song nonetheless. In 1995, Chicago turned their attention toward big band and swing music, releasing an entire album of it. It included a cover of “Chicago,” written by Fred Fisher and first published in 1922. A number of greats have covered it, from Frank Sinatra to Judy Garland.

 

9. “D.O.A”
From: Hadrcore ’81 (1981)

It’s a bit difficult to imagine now, but there was a time when “hardcore punk” was not a term people in the music industry were all that familiar with. D.O.A. was arguably one of the bands that helped define the genre in the early ’80s, and Hardcore ’81, featuring “D.O.A.,” is exhibit A.

 

10. “Damn Yankees
From: Damn Yankees (1990)

It could be argued that if any kind of band should feel the need to release a self-titled song, it’s a supergroup. Damn Yankees included one on their self-titled debut in 1990, and even though their namesake song didn’t chart, several other tracks did: “High Enough,” “Come Again” and “Coming of Age.”

 

11. “Earth, Wind & Fire
From: Spirit (1976)

Earth Wind & Fire’s Spirit was a tremendous success, yielding multiple hit singles and reaching the No. 2 slot on the Billboard 200. (“Earth, Wind & Fire” was not one of them, but served an integral part of the LP nevertheless.) It was also an emotionally heavy time for the band: their producer and long time collaborator Charles Stepney died suddenly while the album was being made, leaving Maurice White to take the helm.

 

12. “Exodus”
From: Bonded by Blood (1985)

You get two for the price of one here. In 1985, Exodus released their debut, self-titled album, which included the song “Exodus.” Then, just over two decades later, the band decided to re-record the album featuring the then-current lineup, plus original members Gary Holt and Tom Hunting.

 

13. “Fleetwood Mac
From: The Original Fleetwood Mac (1971)

When one considers Fleetwood Mac, they often think of the band’s most prominent lineup, the one featuring Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham. But there’s much to discover about Fleetwood Mac from before that time. In 1971, the band released their third compilation album, The Original Fleetwood Mac, which contained previously unreleased material recorded between 1967 and 1968. One of those songs was “Fleetwood Mac,” an instrumental number featuring a mean harmonica solo from Peter Green.

 

14. “Green Day
From: 39/Smooth (1990)

Green Day’s debut album, 39/Smooth, only sold around 3,000 copies when it was released in 1990. By big label standards, that’s a drop in the bucket, but considering the LP was released on a fledgeling indie label, it was still a rather impressive number. There were no singles from the album, but songs like “Green Day” showed a taste of what was to come for the band.

 

15. “Iron Butterfly Theme”
From: Heavy (1968)

Technically, this song isn’t self-titled, but it’s awfully close. The instrumental “Iron Butterfly Theme” appeared as the final song on 1968’s Heavy. Not long after the album was recorded, three of the band’s members, Darryl DeLoach, Jerry Penrod and Danny Weis, all left, leaving the remaining musicians to find crucial replacements.

 

16. “Iron Maiden
From: Iron Maiden (1980)

You know you’re doing something right when songs from your debut album are still some of the most popular at your live shows decades later. Such is the case with “Iron Maiden” from Iron Maiden’s Iron Maiden. It is, according to setlist.fm, the single most played song at Iron Maiden’s concerts.

 

17. “Kool and the Gang
From: Kool and the Gang (1969)

After multiple name changes, Kool & the Gang became the final title of the R&B group formed in Jersey City. In 1969, their debut self-titled album arrived, and its title track ended up going to No. 19 on the Billboard Best-Selling Soul Singles chart. Not a bad start for a band that, as Robert Bell put it to Black Music in 1975, “learnt how to sing as we went along.”

 

18. “Living in a Box”
From: Living in a Box (1987)

The British band Living in a Box were not around for all that long in the ’80s, but they certainly made the most of their time together. Their eponymous album was released in 1987, featuring their self-titled song, which went to No. 5 in the U.K. It also became their only Top 40 hit in America, making it to No. 17.

 

19. “(Theme From) The Monkees
From: The Monkees (1966)

Like “Iron Butterfly Theme” above, “(Theme From) The Monkees” isn’t technically self-titled but it’s nearly there. Written by a pair of non-Monkees members, Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart, two versions of the song were recorded: a shorter version used for the opening of The Monkees television show, and a longer one that was included on their 1966 debut album.

 

20. “Motorhead
From: Motorhead (1977)

Two years before Motorhead’s debut album arrived, Lemmy Kilmister penned the song “Motorhead” while still a member of Hawkwind, who recorded and released it as a single that year. Lemmy was fired from the band not long after this, but he never forgot the song. In 1977, he brought it to the newly formed Motorhead, named for the song itself.

 

21. “Night Ranger
From: Dawn Patrol (1982)

Most bands write a self-titled song after they’ve already solidified their band name, but here’s an example of the opposite occurring. While recording their debut album, Night Ranger were still known as simply “Ranger,” but less than two weeks before the LP was released, the band discovered that someone else, a country group, already had the name. So Jack Blades, slightly panicked, came up with a solution. “I’d written a song called ‘Night Ranger’ on the first album,” he told 80s Metal Recycle Bin in 2021. “So I just called everybody…and said, ‘Here’s what we do: Dudes, we’ll just put ‘Night’ above the name ‘Ranger.’ … It’s gonna be great – we’ll be Night Ranger!'”

 

22. “Porno for Pyros”
From: Porno for Pyros (1993)

After the departure of guitarist Dave Navarro and bassist Eric Avery from Jane’s Addiction, the rest of the band still felt compelled to move forward. So, with the addition of Peter DiStefano and Martyn LeNoble, they did so as Porno for Pyros, releasing their debut LP in 1993. The title track made references to the 1992 riots that took place in the band’s hometown of Los Angeles.

 

23. “R.A.M.O.N.E.S.”
From: Adios Amigos (1995)

It isn’t every day that one famous rock band writes a tribute to another famous rock band. But this is what Motorhead did for the Ramones, releasing a song called “R.A.M.O.N.E.S.” on their 1991 album, 1916. The Ramones were so flattered they played the song live for the next five years, up until their final show in 1996, and they also recorded two studio versions, one for 1995’s Adios Amigos and another for 1996’s Greatest Hits Live.

 

24. “Slipknot
From: Mate. Feed. Kill. Repeat. (1996)

There is some discrepancy as to which release is actually Slipknot’s debut. Mate. Feed. Kill. Repeat., which was limited to 1,000 copies and independently distributed by the band, came to be understood by the band members themselves are more of a demo than an actual debut. Either way, that’s where you’ll find a song called “Slipknot,” which quite accurately points to the musical direction the group would ultimately take.

 

25. “Talk Talk”
From: The Party’s Over (1982)

With the help of producer Colin Thurston, who had previously worked with David Bowie, the Human League and Duran Duran, Talk Talk made 1982’s The Party’s Over. On it was the song “Talk Talk,” which even came with its own, very of-its-time music video.

 

26. “Tin Machine”
From: Tin Machine (1989)

When you are a successful enough artist, there (hopefully) comes a time in your career where you have a bit more leeway to experiment. Bowie was undoubtedly one of those people and in the late ’80s went to work with Tin Machine, a brand new band with Reeves Gabrels and brothers Hunt and Tony Fox Sales. Within a year, their first album was released, featuring the song that the band took their name from: “Tin Machine.”

 

27. “Village People
From: Village People (1977)

Believe it or not, Village People’s self-titled debut album clocked in at just over 22 minutes and featured only four tracks, including “Village People.” But brevity seems to have worked out in their favor — the LP ended up landing the No. 54 spot on the U.S. Billboard 200.

 

28. “Wilco (The Song)”
From: Wilco (The Album) (2009)

Just to be entirely clear, Wilco named their 2009 album Wilco (The Album), and included a track titled “Wilco (The Song).” Prior to releasing it elsewhere, Wilco streamed the album in full on their website in 2009, allowing for tens of thousands of fans to hear it. It was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Americana Album.

Top 30 Self-Titled Rock Albums

From bold introductions to radical reinventions, these albums reflect strong statements of purpose.

Gallery Credit: Bryan Rolli





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