Last weekend, the Toronto Zoo announced that its three capybara pups would be named Geddy, Alex, and Neil in honor of Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, and Neil Peart — the three members of the legendary Canadian rock band Rush (known for songs like “Tom Sawyer” and “Limelight”).
Vocalist Geddy Lee was born Gary Lee in Toronto in 1953 to parents Morris and Manya Weinrib, Holocaust survivors from Poland. Here’s how the name “Gary” morphed into the name “Geddy”:
“Okay, it’s like the same story of Leave it to Beaver. The story goes: my mother is Polish and she has a very thick accent. When I was about twelve years old, I had a friend who, whenever he heard my mother pronounce my name, he thought she was calling me, ‘Geddy.’ He started calling me ‘Geddy,’ and eventually, all of my friends started calling me ‘Geddy,’ and eventually my mother started to call me ‘Geddy,’ for real. And eventually, I changed my name legally to ‘Geddy,’ so that’s the story and that’s my name, Geddy.”
So have any human pups ever been named for Geddy Lee? Yup–so many that we can see them in the data. In the late ’70s and early ’80s, when Rush was a fixture on the Billboard charts, the name Geddy started appearing on the U.S. baby name charts:
- 1984: 9 baby boys named Geddy
- 1983: unlisted
- 1982: 14 baby boys named Geddy
- 1981: unlisted
- 1980: unlisted
- 1979: 5 baby boys named Geddy [debut]
- 1978: unlisted
Since then, at least 175 U.S. babies have been named Geddy.
And that’s how a Canadian prog rock band turned “Geddy” — a Polish mispronunciation of Gary — into an American baby name. :)
(Kinda reminds me of the mondegreen Kasara…)
If you were having a son, and you had to name him either Gary or Geddy, which would you choose? Why?
Sources: Toronto’s ‘capybaby’ triplets named after famous rock trio Rush, Geddy Lee: The Reluctant Rockstar (originally in Bass Frontiers Magazine)
P.S. Here’s that Leave it to Beaver story.