1. Lynyrd Skynyrd
As the leading proponent of good-old-boy Southern rock, Lynyrd Skynyrd isn’t the kind of band you’d expect to have liked school all that much. Granted, the group’s ’70s output is far more sensitive and intelligent than most people give it credit for—even though the band’s name was more or less a schoolboy-level parody of Leonard Skinner, a man who has gone down in history as the gym teacher whose militant anti-long-hair policy led to Skynyrd guitarist Gary Rossington eventually dropping out of high school. Free to focus on his burgeoning music career, Rossington eventually changed the name of his group to Lynyrd Skynyrd; its debut album, 1973’s (Pronounced 'lĕh-'nérd 'skin-'nérd), pointed out both the phonetic similarities and differences between its name and that of its namesake. The rest is history—and when Skinner died in 2010, the New York Times granted him the dubious posthumous honor of being “arguably the most influential high school gym teacher in American popular culture.”
2. Mr. Epp And The Calculations
Before Mark Arm was the leering, lunging frontman of grunge legend Mudhoney, he sang in Green River, a group that also featured former Pearl Jam members Jeff Ament and Stone Gossard. Before that, though, Arm wielded the guitar, skronking and occasionally shrieking his way through Mr. Epp And The Calculations. Formed while Arm was a student at Bellevue Christian High School in suburban Seattle, Mr. Epp was the epitome of shitty, sloppy, Flipper-esque punk bands—in other words, awesome. Making it even better was the fact that the group dubbed itself Mr. Epp in honor of its members’ high-school math teacher, the unwitting Mr. Epp.
The public education system in Germany is purported to be one of the best in the world. That may or not be evident in the music of Edguy, a veteran power-metal group from the German city of Fulda whose albums over the past 20 years have been as rooted in symphony and history as they’ve been steeped in goofiness (see: “Lavatory Love Machine”). As befitting a band that takes its lack of seriousness very seriously, its name comes not from a Teutonic monarch or Lovecraftian Elder God—but from its members’ math teacher, Edgar Siedschlag. According to Edguy, the name is meant as an affectionate homage rather than a snarky one. Score one for German education.
4. Mister Loveless
The Bay Area indie-pop band Mister Loveless looks and sounds lighthearted and innocuous enough. That’s a large part of its charm. So it seems especially fitting that the video from “Wild Summer”—a standout track from the band’s 2012 debut album, Grow Up—was filmed in a school classroom, complete with a belligerent teacher. With all that in mind, though, it’s not hard to see that Mister Loveless is just a wee bit fixated on the subject of long-lost adolescence—a point that’s driven home by the fact the group itself was named after frontman Rob Miller’s sixth-grade teacher.
With the benefit of hindsight, indie-rock group Rooney might have thought twice before naming itself after Mr. Edward R. Rooney, the ferociously ferret-like school principal and (and conniving villain) from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Not because Mr. Edward R. Rooney isn’t a great character—he is and always will be—but because Jeffrey Jones, the actor who played him, was arrested in 2003 for soliciting a 14-year-old boy to participate in child pornography, just as Rooney the band was gearing up to release its self-titled debut. The album didn’t suffer from the association, and Rooney’s bouncy power-pop has managed to survive. Still, it wouldn’t have hurt if the group had wound up being called, say, Mr. Hand instead.