Why did they choose that stage name?

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Many artists appear on stage with aliases, pseudonyms. Do you know their real names?

Rather than enumerate a very long list of names, Cb… Vinyl Record Art decided to do a pseudo-presentation on music artists’ pseudonyms, illustrated of course with a few examples.

freddie mercury at wembley arena

A name can quickly prove to be a burden in life, assuming that some parents take a real pleasure in choosing weird names or out of step with the time we live in… (I don’t give a damn about the homage to the grandpa!). Choosing a pseudonym for yourself is a little bit different, the choice is entirely yours, not someone else’s. You choose it with full background knowledge. While this is not an easy exercise, it’s still an opportunity to make a clean sweep of your original identity, starting on new basis… YOUR basis! While taking advantage of highlighting an aspect or the entirety of your own self.

One might think at first that it is natural to use your own name to promote your work but usually, the customs and traditions of the time dictate and guide our choice. Sometimes the initial name is not enough “bankable” for the record label and / or does not fit with the image and the desired connotations.

Some artists have come to use a pseudonym to easily fade into their musical universe, because their name does not sound great, to disguise an origin, to be attached to another system of values or to give an idealized version of their image. Sid Vicious, under his real name John Simon Ritchie has, for example, chosen his nickname to accentuate his thug’s reputation. Violent by nature and with a rogue character, he tried the punk music and founded the Sex Pistols. Johnny Hallyday (French musician), however, opted for a name that sounded American to stick with the Rock’n’Roll attitude of the period rather than using his real name Jean-Philippe Smet.

This is also the case for the following artists:

Farrokh Bulsara–>Freddie Mercury
Gaston Ghrenassia–>Enrico Macias
Brian Hugh Warner–>Marilyn Manson
Vincent Damon Furnier–>Alice Cooper
Robert Allen Zimmerman–>Bob Dylan

Others choose to appear on stage under a pseudonym or under what we call a “Stage name”, sharing at the same time a very personal and atypical universe. Through his stage name, the artist develops a new identity to voluntarily or not sow an ambiguity to the public. It is not a multiple personality disorder, but rather the emergence of one of the facets of the artist, such as David Bowie (David Robert Jones) with his famous character Ziggy Stardust.

ziggy stardust, david bowie

It also happens that some styles of music influence the choice of the pseudonym, it’s cultural. We typically find this custom in the world of Hip Hop and Rap. The artists from these communities are more or less bound to use a moniker: the “Street Name”. The moniker is also closely linked to graffiti / tag.

Curtis James Jackson III–>50 Cent
Marshall Bruce Mathers III–>Eminem

Wu Tang Clan

Robert Fitzgerald Diggs–>RZA
Gary Grice–>GZA
Clifford Smith–>Method Man
Corey Woods–>Raekwon
Dennis Coles–>Ghostface Killah
Jason Hunter–>Inspectah Deck
Lamont Jody Hawkins–>U-God
Elgin Turner–>Masta Killa
Darryl Hill–>Cappadonna
Russell Tyrone Jones–>Ol’ Dirty Bastard
Romell Young–>Dr Dre
Calvin Cordozar Broadus Jr.–>Snoop Dog

I could go on and on for a very long time, the moniker is so widespread. It’s just the same for the Electro music scene. As soon as the Dj hits the decks, he is on stage under a new personality.

Richard Melville Hall–>Moby
Quentin Dupieux–>Mr Oizo
Quentin Leo Cook–>Fat Boy Slim
Vincent Belorgey–>Kavinsky
Théo Le Vigoureux–>Fakear
Leonard Albert Kravitz–>Lenny Kravitz
Lucien Voulzy–>Laurent Voulzy (French musician)
Robert Nesta Marley–>Bob Marley
Erykah Abi Wright–>Erykah Badu

If you feel that your name is too banal, take a new nickname. Personally, Cb… suits me very well.

What about you, what is your moniker?