My 8yo is the same way. He has to be seriously coached with names, and then, even when he knows them, very rarely uses them.
He's a very visual kinesthetic learner, he'll hear a name 100 times, but even when he KNOWS a name he thinks of people as what they look like and their actions... down to minute detail.
He's also always been Mr. Popular. Names are rarely used in social situations except for "greetings". My son avoids name greetings. "OMG You're HERE! Yes! Lets go do _________!" He's so thrilled by people that whole groups of them light up when he comes in a room because he makes each of them feel special. He's also frequently the "director" of games of multiple people. "Okay! You, you, and you.... to the trees, set up the fort... you you and you... your scouts. This group needs to collect ammunition (pinecones). Have you got your assignments? Go! Go! Go!"
Don't get me wrong... he can LEARN names, and when he does he doesn't forget... he just has to be prodded into it, and the prodding can take weeks.
Like Beth's son... he would rather describe people. K was a riot because he he had a litany of "Blonde girl in the pink shirt first, in the grey shirt the day after, in the lacy skirt yesterday, who laughs really excited, and ties her own shoes"