Why did they choose the name Dropkick Murphys?

m_f9e50182535d766479f67ac7cac5cbdbEver wonder where some bands come up with their band names?  Well, we do, and we’re sick of sitting around scratching our heads about it.  We’re hitting the streets (aka. “Internet”) to find the origins behind some of the more bizarre, intriguing or just plain random band names in the scene.  Every Wednesday we’ll be pulling the curtain back on a different band and this week it’s Boston’s celtic-punk legends Dropkick Murphys.

Band member Matt Kelly (drums, bodhran, and vocals) explained to us that they got their name from a bit of Boston folklore.  John “Dropkick” Murphy was a football player, turned wrestler, turned boxer/boxing coach from Boston.  In the 50’s and 60’s he ran a boxing camp out of his home but a lot of the boxers kept getting drunk before fights so he tried to find new ways to get/keep them sober.  Eventually his training camp became more well known as a rehab center and John “Dropkick” Murphy became a sort of legend in Boston and Eastern Massachusetts.  Being from that area themselves, the band thought it would make a cool band name and the rest is history.  Sorta ironic that the name Dropkick Murphys stemmed from keeping sober yet every time I hear them I crave a Guinness….

If you’ve got a good band name origin story, or want us to research one for you, message us on the Dying Scene facebook page.

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  • Thanks for a reasonably accurate explanation of who Dropkick Murphy was. I worked for John “Dropkick” Murphy in the 1960’s as a dishwasher at his farm where he “dried out” alcoholics….not the same as a rehab at all. Alkies were dropped off at Bellows Farm Sanitarium, usually by their wives, whereupon they were immediately put in red pajamas so that locals would know when they wondered off the premises….usually to a local bar to get a drink. John and his sons ran the place which consisted of an old colonial farmhouse and barn turned into dormatories. Dropkick was a good guy and the band never seemed to have a clue as to their namesake……

    • I was speaking with a new friend, Bill, from Boston about the genesis of the band name, Dropkick Murphy. He told me about the rehab farm being in Acton. He said Babe Ruth had a home near there and when he played for the Red Sox, was sometimes dropped off there for sobering up, Now that would have been long ago….could be true. Makes a great story. He also said there were many politicians and well known athletes, entertainers who were there to get sober, including Jackie Gleason.

      • Thanks Linda. your friend Bill seems to have it right. I never heard the story about Babe Ruth but we did have notables including Jackie Gleason and many sports figures. That is how Dropkick got the Farm going, bringing local atheletes from the Sox, Bruins out to the country to dry out. Bellows Farm was not, however, a rehab as we would think of it in modern day terms. More like a “spin dry”…..get the guy sobered up enough to get him back to his family and work.

        • Thank you ED. I love the history here and your contribution as first hand. It would be a great book and you certainly have the skills. The methods for getting sober before Betty Ford’s Center were secretive and not too well known I suppose. If you were an A lister, it would have to be kept under wraps. The red pajamas…..love that! I would have liked this John “Dropkick” Murphy.

  • I’m currently working on a book about John “Dropkick” Murphy. If any of you have some stories to share, feel free to contact me. My work email is esweeney [at] globe [dot] com.

    All the best,

    Emily Sweeney

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