Would a rose smell any sweeter if it had been named a bowel evacuator? It’d be a little odd. Celebrities often change their names because their real ones suck. Or they know no one will remember it. Not everyone can be born with the name Bruce Springsteen, after all. In the case of Miley Cyrus, well, she got stuck being Hannah Montana because someone thought it’d be a better idea if the name rhymed! That may be true for song lyrics, but it’s not necessary for a stage name. So we here at List of the Day applaud Ms. Cyrus’ taking back her name, but it made us wonder what would happen if others followed suit.
Now Prince tried to change his name to hieroglyphics. And Johnny Cougar slowly worked his way to John Cougar Mellencamp and finally John Mellencamp, but here are some others who have never looked back. They are who they say they are. Even if they aren’t. Get it?
10) John Denver–Henry John Deutschendorf: Well, first off he’s dead, so he won’t be making any new decisions. But even had he lived I don’t see Henry here opting to switch back to that last name. I wonder if he had trouble spelling it. I wouldn’t want to have to fill out forms and endorse checks with that many consonants to worry about. Imagine getting pulled over for a DWI and being asked to spell your name. Stick with Denver.
9) Cher–Cherilyn Sarkisian: Once you’re a one-name celebrity, you don’t look back. You’ve made it.
8) Rikki Rockett–Richard Allan Ream: Recently in the news regarding an alleged rape, this Poison drummer had the further indignity of having his real name posted in the news items as “Dick Ream.” Man, Mechanicsburg high school must’ve had a field day with this sucker.
7) W. Axl Rose–William Bruce Rose, Jr.: Considering “Axl” flies into a rage over just about everything, can you imagine what would happen if everyone started referring to him as “Billy” or “Junior”? Or maybe everyone should just start chanting “BROOCE.” Rock star egos are massive, especially when they don’t release albums for over 10 years–all that suppressed rage, all that constipated artistry. All those legal briefs.
6) Gene Simmons–Chaim Witz: As music’s most famous marketer, Gene Simmons saw his future and knew it wasn’t Chaim Witz. Just like he didn’t name his band Radio Free Vestibule. Kiss was obviously a stronger choice. The man may have difficulty singing and A&E knows his “reality” show has the most scripted feel of anything I’ve seen in terms of “reality” (I didn’t even realize he had a dog until they spent an entire episode looking for it.), but the man knows how to put his name and image on everything. So break out the Witz!
5) Tina Turner–Anna Mae Bullock: Ok, she took her husband’s last name since Bullock wouldn’t be a decent name until acting sensation J.J. Bullock made it what it is. And Anna Mae sounded too much like an old blues tunes about an old spinster and the last impulse a young woman wants to elicit from a man is the desire to search for the Ben-Gay. She wisely decided to wear short skirts and fondle the mike stand so men would reach for trendier moisturizers.
4) Iggy Pop–James Newell Osterberg, Jr.: Another Junior on the list. And Osterberg obviously wasn’t going to cut it. And while Jimmy would’ve sufficed, Jimmy Pop just doesn’t have that ring to it unless you’re selling popcorn. And music is all about sound and looking good. And while Iggy at 60 is a bit tough to look at, he still looks finer than David Johansen and Mick Jagger. Though I’d like to start a petition to insist he keep a shirt on. There are children in the audience.
3) Lou Reed–Butch Firbank: Ok, Lou Reed really is Lou Reed’s name, but that didn’t stop a rumor started in CREEM magazine that Lou’s real name was Butch Firbank. Someone had written in to ask if Lou Reed was a pun on “Lurid” and the cheeky editor decided on Lou’s new name of origin. It still from time to time gets considered a fact. My favorite kind: the ones that aren’t true but should be.
2) Jay-Z–Shawn Corey Carter: I’m sure Ghostface Killah isn’t his real name and I’m sure Ol’ Dirty Bastard is a pseudonym and I’ve been told that Flavor Flav’s real name is William Drayton. The hip-hop guys make it a little obvious. Their stage names sound like stage names. Whereas Shawn Corey Carter sounds like a country singer. And Jay-Z sounds like a men’s fashion line. Chaim Witz must be proud.
1) Elton John–Reginald Kenneth Dwight: Oh Reggie! Supper’s ready! You can hear why this wasn’t going to work. Though why he would to decide to pick a last name that could either be interpreted as a toilet or a person who frequents prostitutes. If it’s considered hard to be a pimp, imagine how much worse it is to be the guy on the other end. Look at that Spitzer dude. He wishes he was only likened to a toilet these days.