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Anthrax: This band, formed in New York in 1981, is the only heavy metal group to be named after a scourge of cattle and sheep. The infectious disease can spread to humans.
There's a convoluted theory that it's homage to Curved Air, who named from Terry Riley's album, A Rainbow In Curved Air. Riley's fourth album, with John Cale in 1971, was called Church of Anthrax. This theory can be discarded: guitarists Scott Ian and Danny Lilker learnt about anthrax at college. They chose it purely for its sound rather than its repulsive meaning involving throat inflammation, malignant pustules, boils and fever.
It's also nothing to do with the 1979 Gang Of Four track Anthrax or a 1980-84 British punk band, which had to become Anthrax U.K; they formed first but the American act was more successful.
The Anthrax Web site got bombarded with requests for information in September 2001 when letters containing anthrax spores were mailed to news offices and two senators, resulting in several deaths. Anthrax joked about renaming as "something more friendly, like 'Basket Full of Puppies.'" A month later, at a 9/11 benefit concert, they wore suits spelling out "WE'RE NOT CHANGING OUR NAME".
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