Where did the baby name Airrion come from in 1973?

The Stylistics' self-titled debut album (1971)
Stylistics album

According to the U.S. baby name data, the curious name Airrion both debuted and hit peak usage in 1973:

  • 1975: 7 baby boys named Airrion
  • 1974: 11 baby boys named Airrion
  • 1973: 19 baby boys named Airrion (debut & peak usage)
  • 1972: unlisted
  • 1971: unlisted

Where did the name come from?

Singer Airrion (pronounced AIR-ee-un) Love, a member of the soul group The Stylistics.

The group was founded in Philadelphia in the late ’60s and saw its greatest success during the first half of the ’70s.

From 1971 to 1974, twelve consecutive Stylistics singles reached the top 10 on Billboard‘s R&B chart. Five of those songs — “You Are Everything,” “Betcha by Golly, Wow,” “I’m Stone in Love with You,” “Break Up to Make Up,” and “You Make Me Feel Brand New” — also reached the top 10 on Billboard‘s Hot 100 chart.

So, if the group achieved fame in 1971, why did Airrion’s name pop up in the data in 1973 — a year (or two) later than expected?

At first I thought he must have been profiled in print somewhere. (How else would so many parents have known to spell his name correctly?) But I couldn’t find anything in the newspapers or the popular magazines of the day.

So my next-best guess is album covers.

On the reverse of The Stylistics’ first record, only lead vocalist Russell Thompkins, Jr., is mentioned by name. On the back of the group’s second and third records, however, the names of all five members — Russell Thompkins, Airrion Love, James Smith, Herb Murrell, and James Dunn — are listed.

Detail from the reverse of the album cover for "Round 2" (1972) by The Stylistics
From the reverse of “Round 2” (1972)

If Airrion’s name had been included on the back of the first record, I think it’s likely that his name would have debuted earlier in the baby name data.

What are your thoughts on the name Airrion?

Sources: The Stylistics – Wikipedia, Discogs.com, SSA

2 thoughts on “Where did the baby name Airrion come from in 1973?

  1. Visually, the name doesn’t appeal to me, but I like how it sounds.
    I’m not sure there’s a better spelling. Aireon could be mispronounced as AIRE-on (similar to the medieval spelling of faire for fair) or AIRE-un (like Aaron). Airreon might be more accurate but it doesn’t look better, imo. Spelling the name as Aerion or Aerieon seems even worse.
    As, I read the name in my mind, I pronounced ion as eon with a long e (e-on, not e-un), but I wonder how many people might say “ion” with a long i?
    tl;dr: pass on Airrion.

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