What’s In A Name?
Written by Rob Davies on 24th August 2021
What’s in a name? In showbiz, it’s very important. Particularly in the acting profession, where having the right moniker can be the difference between no work and a stellar career. Would casting directors ever hand major roles to Marion Morrison, Archibald Leach or Maurice Micklewhite? Highly unlikely. However, as John Wayne, Cary Grant and Michael Caine respectfully, all three were massive stars in their own eras of film-making. “My name is Maurice Micklewhite. Not a lot of people know that”, doesn’t have much of an impact does it?
The music industry also has plenty of name-changers. Some relatively subtle. Others not so much.
When you look at Iggy Pop who do you see? The chances are it’s Iggy Pop. Could the self-styled, lean-bodied “Godfather of Punk” be taken seriously as a “Real Wild Child” with the name James Osterberg Junior? Probably not.
Sting has used his nickname professionally for decades, having been given the name by friends, as the former Police front-man regularly wore a distinctive yellow and black striped jumper. A very cool name. Certainly cooler than Gordon Sumner, more suited to a Geography teacher. No disrespect to Geography teachers intended. Jilted John sang “Gordon is a moron” in the song “Jilted John” as the Police were approaching the height of their popularity. Certainly a coincidence, but further emphasising that the name Gordon was most definitely not cool.
Alice Cooper wore mascara at a time when the only substance men would wear on their faces was the occasional splash of Brut or Old Spice. Using a female forename added a certain something to his image. Vincent Furnier didn’t really cut it.
The rock band Guns ‘n’ Roses also has its share of name-changers. Axl Rose is definitely more rock and roll than Bruce Rose Junior, though in my humble opinion lead guitarist Slash’s name of Saul Hudson has a certain coolness of its own. As an aside, did you know Slash was born and brought up in Stoke-on-Trent? Who would have thought the Potteries was ever a hot-bed of rock?
Name-changing in music isn’t exclusively male. Susan Ballion and the Banshees conjures the charisma of a carrot. Lorde is definitely a better professional choice over Ella Yelich-O’Connor as is Lady Gaga in preference to Stefani Germanotta.
Here’s a small list of more real names of musicians, past and present:
- Harry Webb (Cliff Richard)
- Priscilla White (Cilla Black)
- Reginald Dwight (Elton John)
- Bob Dylan (Robert Zimmerman)
- Cher (Cherilyn Sarkisain)
- Stevie Wonder (Stevland Junkins)
- Elvis Costello (Declan MacManus)
- Drake (Aubrey Graham)
- Jay-Z (Shawn Carter)
- Calvin Harris (Adam Wiles)
- Rihanna (Robyn Fenty)
- Bruno Marrs (Peter Hernandez)
- Bono (Paul Hewson)
I even had to change my own name on joining Leighton Buzz Radio. The only time I use ‘Rob’ (my middle name is Robert) is when presenting on the station. My real name is Ian Davies, however having Ian Davison and Ian Davies at the same radio station would have caused too much confusion, and as the ‘other’ Ian was already here, I respectfully went with Rob, much to the amusement of my friends and family.
Rob Davies presents The Eighties Show every Monday evening from 7:00pm – 9:00pm.