I did a paper on the topic a while back.
Very interesting paper, Dave. A couple of small points:
(1) Nonsensical (e.g., The Soup Dragons) – the Soup Dragon was a character in a BBC children’s programme called The Clangers*. So the name was a reference to something “real”, even if that “real” thing was invented nonsense.
(2) “things get really weird, with groups like … Pink Floyd” - Pink Floyd took its name from a couple of old blues musicians, Pink Anderson and Floyd Council, and were originally “The Pink Floyd Sound”, playing R&B songs such as “I’m a King Bee”, so were perhaps more in line with groups named as an homage to R&B music, such as the Rolling Stones and the Pretty Things (named after the Bo Diddley song). Doubtless, however, the slightly psychedelic overtones of “Pink Floyd” appealed to Syd Barrett when he came up with the name.
We could all, I’m sure, list our favourite band names: one of mine, from the 1970s British “pub rock” scene (a highly inventive period for band names) was Duke Duke and the Dukes. The best-ever band name, however, was invented by the late British DJ John Peel as a double spoof on classical music and early jazz: Jimmy Jack Rossini and his Rhythm Pioneers.
* properly just “Clangers”, but everybody in Britain makes it arthrous.