Enlarge Photo Credit: Brian McNamara, Detroit Free Press

Meet the 88-Year-Old Grandma Who Inspired Greta Van Fleet’s Band Name

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Ever wondered how Greta Van Fleet got their band name? Thanks to the Detroit Free Press, now we know the answer.

The Frankenmuth, MI classic rock revivalists took their moniker from Gretna Van Fleet (note the “n”), an 88-year-old resident of the 5,000 population town who happened to be in the right place at the exact moment four teenagers jamming classic rock covers were looking for a band name. The band had its first-ever gig lined up — at Frankenmuth’s annual Auto Fest (footage from that gig embedded below) — when then-drummer Kyle Hauck’s grandfather dropped him off at rehearsal.

Kyle’s grandfather said, “All right, have fun. I’ve got to go cut wood for Gretna Van Fleet. I’ll see you when practice is over,” and the gears in singer Josh Kiszka’s brain started turning. The quartet discussed it, decided it rolled off the tongue better without the “n” as Greta, and boom, they had a band name.

As for Gretna herself, “She gave us the go-ahead,” says bassist-keyboardist Sam Kiszka, who notes that Mrs. Van Fleet has become something of a local celebrity as the band’s popularity has skyrocketed. There was some initial confusion when the band started gigging regularly, but Gretna — who is a musician herself, playing the dulcimer and drums — and her husband showed up to a gig seeking an explanation, stuck around to watch the show, and it’s been gravy ever since. “It’s not my favorite music, and the boys know that, but I think they’re very talented, and I support them,” offers the lifelong Michigan resident. The retired office manager says she gets stopped in town daily, and that her favorite GVF song is “Flower Power.”

Gretna has embraced the association. For her 88th birthday — also the release date of the band’s first full-length album Anthem of the Peaceful Army — the town of Frankenmuth threw her a party. She wore her Greta Van Fleet shirt.

Read more about this fascinating story at Detroit Free Press.

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