What’s in a Name? Top Grunge Music Baby Names

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


What’s in a name? For the parents of the ’90s grunge music scene, it was everything. From Kurt Cobain to Eddie Vedder, check out our list of the top grunge music baby names.

Alice in Chains

Layne Staley

Layne Thomas Staley (August 22, 1967 – April 5, 2002) was an American musician who served as the lead singer and co-lead vocalist of the rock band Alice in Chains, which he co-founded with guitarist Jerry Cantrell in Seattle, Washington in 1987.

Staley was also a member of the glam metal band Sleze. Alice in Chains rose to international fame as part of the grunge movement of the early 1990s. The band became known for Staley’s distinct vocal style, as well as the harmonized vocals between him and Cantrell.

With Layne at the helm, Alice in Chains were one of grunge’s most successful bands and have sold over 30 million records worldwide. They have been nominated for nine Grammy Awards and have won two American Music Awards and five MTV Video Music Awards.

Jerry Cantrell

Jerry Cantrell, one of the founding members and the main songwriter of Alice in Chains, was born Jerry Fulton Cantrell Jr. on March 18, 1966, in Tacoma, Washington. His father, Jerry Sr., was a Vietnam vet who came home with PTSD and alcoholism. His parents divorced when he was eight, and he split his time between his father’s house and his mother’s house. He has two sisters: one older, one younger. His mother remarried when he was twelve, and he took his stepfather’s last name, Fulton. He has a half-brother from his mother’s first marriage who is four years younger than him.

Cantrell developed an interest in music early on, teaching himself to play the acoustic guitar at the age of eleven. He cites Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Kiss, Van Halen, Montrose, Aerosmith, AC/DC, Black Sabbath as some of his earliest influences. At sixteen (1982), he joined a band called Diamond Lie which did mostly cover songs but also played a few original songs written by Cantrell. The band played shows around the Tacoma area but never really went anywhere.

When Cantrell graduated high school in 1984, he enlisted in the Army reserves to avoid being drafted into the Vietnam War like his father had been. He did his training at Fort Lewis (now Joint Base Lewis-McChord) near Tacoma and served six months on active duty before being honorably discharged as a private first class.


Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love named their only child Frances Bean Cobain. Kurt Cobain was the lead singer of the grunge band Nirvana. The name Frances is of Latin origin meaning “free one”.

Kurt Cobain

Kurt Cobain was the lead singer and guitarist of the American grunge band Nirvana. He is considered one of the most influential musicians of his generation. Kurt was born on February 20, 1967, in Aberdeen, Washington. He was named after Kurt Donald Cobain, a jazz drummer who had played with the ~the Hank Thompson Band~. Cobain’s parents married when he was a child, but later divorced. His mother remarried to a man named ~Dan~, who adopted Kurt and gave him his last name. Kurt had a difficult childhood; he was often bullied and felt like an outsider. He began playing music at an early age and found solace in it.

Nirvana was formed in 1987 and released their first album, Bleach, in 1989. Their second album, Nevermind, was released in 1991 and quickly rose to the top of the charts. Nirvana became one of the most successful bands of all time with hits like “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and “Come As You Are.” Cobain struggled with fame and depression throughout his career. On April 5, 1994, Kurt Cobain died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound at his home in Seattle, Washington. He was 27 years old.

Dave Grohl

Dave Grohl, born David Eric Grohl on January 14, 1969, is an American musician, singer, and songwriter. He is best known as the drummer for the rock band Nirvana and as the founder and frontman of the rock band Foo Fighters. He has also played in Scream, Queens of the Stone Age, Probot, Them Crooked Vultures, andPaul McCartney’s live band.

Pearl Jam

Grunge music first broke into the mainstream with Nirvana’s Nevermind album in 1991. The music was characterized by its raw, hard-edged sound and angsty lyrics. The genre quickly gained popularity, and soon other grunge bands, like Pearl Jam, were achieving success.

Eddie Vedder

Eddie Vedder (born Edward Louis Severson III; December 23, 1964) is an American musician, multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter who is best known as the lead vocalist and one of three guitarists of the American rock band Pearl Jam. He is known for his deep, baritone voice.

Jeff Ament

Jeff Ament is an American musician and songwriter who serves as the bassist for the rock band Pearl Jam. He is also a founding member of the grunge band Mother Love Bone. Ament has played on all of Pearl Jam’s studio albums since their debut, Ten. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Pearl Jam on April 7, 2017.


Chris Cornell

Chris Cornell, the lead singer of Soundgarden, passed away in 2017. He was an incredible artist and will be truly missed. In honor of his memory, here are some of the top grunge music baby names.

-Kurt Cobain: Named after Nirvana’s lead singer, this name is perfect for a little rocker.
-Layne Staley: This name tribute to the late Alice in Chains singer would be perfect for a little boy or girl.
-Eddie Vedder: Vedder was the lead singer of Pearl Jam and his unique name would make a great choice for a baby boy.
-Kim Thayil: Kim was the guitarist for Soundgarden and his strong name would be perfect for a little boy.

Kim Thayil

Kim Thayil is an American musician best known as the guitarist for the rock band Soundgarden.

Born in Seattle, Washington, Thayil co-founded Soundgarden in 1984 with singer Chris Cornell and bassist Hiro Yamamoto. The band released their debut album, Ultramega OK, in 1988 to critical acclaim. Thayil’s guitar playing was a key component of the band’s sound, often using alternate tunings and feedback.

Soundgarden achieved mainstream success with their 1991 album Badmotorfinger and their breakthrough single “Black Hole Sun”. The band’s success continued with their next two albums, Superunknown (1994) and Down on the Upside (1996). After a 13-year hiatus, Soundgarden reunited in 2010 and released their sixth studio album, King Animal, in 2012.

Thayil has been ranked as one of the greatest guitarists of all time by publications such as Rolling Stone and Guitar World. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Soundgarden in 2018.

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