Rock On!

October 26, 2011 § 4 Comments

Rock Names are having a heyday these days.

R names are staring to rage, whether they are Rev- names for girls (For Real just spotted a Norah Revae), -r names for boys or girls (Appellation Mountain released a long boy list last week and promised a girl one, too), or the names are all about the rock. (Lou @ Mer de Noms just did a post on a ton of new R names to whet your whistles, too.)

UPDATE (25/04/12): I love this story of a celebrity baby named Rock – Train frontman Pat Monahan named his newborn son Rock Richard after his wife’s twin sister, Summer, began to have persistent dreams about her unborn nephew. Monahan recently shared with People.com:

“She said that my son was coming to her and grabbing her face and saying, ‘Aunt Summer, my mom and dad won’t listen to me in their dreams. You need to tell them my name is Rock.'” Then she had another one where he was wearing a [Colorado] Rockies uniform playing baseball. He was like, ‘Aunt Summer, look, my name’s on [my shirt].'”

I hinted on the popularity of Rock names in my post about Moroccan & Monroe, the six-month-old twins of Mariah Carey and Nick Cannon. Moroccan was in honour of the decor of the room in Carey’s Manhattan penthouse where Cannon proposed, similar to a name we have an ongoing affectation with – Rocco (German and Italian for “rest”). It’s a long-used Italian name that was thrust front and centre when Madonna and Guy Ritchie welcomed son Rocco John in 2000. Johnny Knoxville, who just welcomed daughter Arlo, had son Rocko Akira with wife Naomi in 2009.

On October 4th, Australian rugby star Joel Reddy welcomed his first child, a son named Rock Jarvis Goodwin. It’s was noted that Rock Reddy had been given a ‘rock star’ name, and what’s cool about “rock,” as evidenced as recently as Saturday night on British X Factor, is that rock is about more than being “rock” anymore. Like almost all boundaries of music, ‘rock’ can mean a lot to a lot of different people. I mean, the slogan Rock the Vote doesn’t mean to play rock music at an election!

Rock Hudson wore the name in the 1950s. A massive pin up star, the revelation not only that he was gay, but that he was dying of AIDS, was shocking for people – he became the most public face of this new and terrifying disease that made the West think twice about free love. Rock Hudson was born Roy Harold Scherer, Jr., though Roy Sr. left his family in the midst of the Great Depression, and Rock’s mother, Katherine Wood, later married Wallace “Wally” Fitzgerald. He was adopted and changed his last name, but when he left Winnetka, Illinois, and after serving in the US Navy in the Philippines in World War II, he left for Hollywood and changed his name again, to the marquee-ready “Rock Hudson.” His career exploded in 1954 with roles opposite Jane Wyman in Magnificent Obsession, and James Dean in Giant – for which both he and Dean were nominated for the Best Actor Oscar.

Roch (pronounced rock), which is the French variant of Rocco and means “rest,” is moderately popular in French-speaking countries, but isn’t trending much lately. French-Canadian singer-songwriter Roch Voisine was born in 1963.

British playwright Nell Dunn had son Roc with husband Jeremy Sandford in 1957, her choice possibly inspired by Rock Hudson’s popularity, but with Reuben (b. 1964) and Jem (1967) as his brothers, the Sandfords might have had something else in mind! Singer Monica’s son with producer Rodney “Rocko” Hill is named Rodney Ramone Hill III (b. 2004), but is called Rock, or “Lil’ Rock,” after his Dad.

Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale’s second son, Zuma Nesta Rock, born in 2008, was given one of the more outrageous celebrity baby names in recent memory. Zuma was for Malibu’s Zuma Beach, a place where Rossdale loves to surf and where he’s reported to have had an epiphany one morning about becoming a rock star. Nesta honours Bob Marley, much like son Kingston honoured Marley’s Jamaican birthplace. (Marley was actually born in remote Nine Mile, but Gwen’s band No Doubt has recorded in the capital.) The couple have always had a thing for the Jamaican reggae culture, and No Doubt’s Rock Steady album was infused with a lot of reggae influence. It would almost have been ridiculous if they hadn’t chosen Rock as the second middle name. Would Gavin, instead, have flowed as well?

Modern examples of Rock as a masculine, strong, or eloquent name are through Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, wrestler-slash-actor, and Chris Rock – known for crude humour, he has taken on projects in recent years, in the name of his daughters Lola Simone and Zahra Savannah, like Good Hair, a 2009 documentary that explored the beauty of black hair when his daughters complained about their looks. Champion boxer Rocky Marciano and his fictional counterpart, Rocky Balboa (portrayed six times by Sylvester Stallone), inspire a whole new arm of the trend.

British pinup model Nicola McLean and husband Tom Williams, a footballer, had son Rocky in 2006 (followed by Striker in 2010!), while British cricketer Andrew Flintoff and wife Holly had son Rocky in 2008. And, I went to school with a Rocky, in case you wanted some real world proof that this name was more than just for boxers or cartoon squirrels!

Rocky is also about as close as this trend comes to girls names, with Rocky appearing as a tomboyish nickname for names like Rachel or Raquel. Raquel “Rocky” Donatelli was a minor reality TV star in the third season of Laguna Beach on MTV, which aired in 2008.

Progress has provided yet another name in the Rock trend – Rocket. Whether honouring man’s first trip to the moon or man’s fabled history with machines, Rocket is a name that says a lot. It’s not overly trendy, but it’s shown up here and there – director Robert Rodriguez’ first of five children was named Rocket Valentino in 1995. The rest were Racer Maximilano in 1997, Rebel Antonio in 1999, Rogue Joaquin in 2002, and Rhiannon Elizabeth in 2005. British playwright Douglas Adams welcomed daughter Polly Jane Rocket in 1994, and Blink-182’s Tom DeLonge welcomed son Jonas Rocket in 2006.

But Rocco remains the most popular Rock name. Scottish footballer Paul Dalglish, currently playing in the North American MLS, welcomed twins Rocco and Coco in February. Canadian-American TV presenter Jillian Barberie Reynolds had son Rocco Rio in 2010, a few years after her double-R daughter, Ruby Raven. In 2009 Olympic Champion gymnast Shannon Miller welcomed son John Rocco, but calls him by his middle name, which is a bit of a trend in the midwest, I’ve heard. (Fellow Oklahomans, the band Hanson, are certainly familiar with it among their offspring.)

British rugby star Will Greenwood had son Rocco in 2009, while Australian swimmer Michael Klim welcomed son Agung Rocco, called Reese, in 2008 (though initially it was intended he would be called Rocco, his name evolved). Klim married Lindy Rama, a Balinese princess, and Agung is a traditional Balinese first name. Irish pop singer Nicky Byrne of Westlife fame welcomed twin sons Jay and Rocco with his wife, PM’s daughter Georgina Ahearn, in 2007. Italian-American celebrity chef Aldo Zilli welcomed son Rocco Brian in 2006, while former Runaways guitarist Lita Ford, who forged a successful solo career in the 1980s, had son Rocco with husband Jim Gillette in 2001. Italian actress Amanda Sandrelli named her son the tongue-twisting Rocco Roca-Rey in 1998, with her husband Blas Roca-Rey.

In 1990, actors Steven Seagal and Kelly LeBrock honoured Saint Rocco when they named their son Dominic San Rocco. He was a 14th Century Italian saint who was said to have cured plague victims. Though San Rocco was born in Monpellier, France and canonized officially as Saint Roch, he is particularly revered in southern Italy and Sicily, where numerous cholera epidemics ravaged from shortly after St. Rocco’s death and the Southern Italian people turned to St. Rocco for his protection against this plague, other sickness and for his help in all circumstances of life.

If there’s a name in the Rock trend that could find room on the girls list is Rocklin. While it’s still male, an Old English place name, it’s -lin ending and similarity to popular Brooklyn or classic Jacqueline could be what would help it.

There are a few girls name that mean rock, however. Unisex Scottish name Callan means “rock,” Lana means “little rock” in Irish Gaelic. Greek Peter (from petros) means “rock,” and has feminine variations in Pernella (Greek/French), Petra (German), Perrin (English), Peta (Dutch), and Pierette (French). Male variations include Pierce/Piers (English/Greek), Perkins (English), and Pierre (French).

There are countless other male names that mean “rock” – starting with well-established Craig (Scottish Gaelic). In Hebrew, the popular English name Evan means “rock,” from eben, but bears no resemblance to the male name Zuriel, which in Hebrew means “the Lord is my rock.” In Celtic, Evan means “young warrior.”

Cairn is Scottish Gaelic for “mound of rocks” – cairns were built as far back as the 5th Century as dwellings for the Celts, and eventually emerged as a place name surname. Cairns, Australia, in north Queensland, was named for William Wellington Cairns, the state governor. Carrick is Irish for “rock,” and may get a jump from the familiarity of Eric or Carrie.

Halle (pronounced HA-leh) is the Old Norse male form of “rock,” well-known in Scandinavia but not beyond, while feminine and Germanic Halle (pronounced Hal-ee) is more common thanks to Oscar winner Halle Berry, but doesn’t mean rock – it means “home ruler.”

And while we’re at it, here’s a bonus name that is truly in the spirit of rock, while it will equally bring to mind a less desirable name like Milhouse: Fillmore. In Old English, this name means “very famous,” and was the case when it was the surname of US President Millard Fillmore, who served from 1850-53. The world-famous rock and rock venue in San Francisco, The Fillmore Auditorium, was the musical epicentre of the psychedelia counterculture of the 1960s. Hendrix, Janis Joplin, The Allman Brothers, the Doors, the Grateful Dead – all played at the legendary Fillmore. It was named for it’s original location at the corner of Fillmore and Geary in San Francisco, and the street was named for the president.

Maybe for a middle name, then? 😉

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