A great writer named William Shakespeare once wrote, “What’s in a name? That of which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” A great girl band named Destiny’s Child once sang, “Say My Name, Say My Name.” Many singers and rappers have unique and interesting stage names. Some simply go by their given names, such as Beyoncé, Madonna or Michael Jackson. Others modify their names, like Eminem whose real name is Marshal Mathers. At first, he used his initials and went by the stage name M & M, which eventually morphed into Eminem. Jay-Z, whose real name is Shawn Carter, was given the nickname “Jazzy” as a child by some in his neighborhood. He modified the name to Jay-Z as a tribute to his mentor, Jaz-O.
Some get their name in a very simple way. However, some other artists got their names in very different ways. For some, they had to go on strange and far out journeys to discover their names. Others didn’t go on any kind of journey but still have an interesting backstory to how they got their names. Some are references to their favorite movies or books, some are childhood nicknames and some were a complete accident. Here is a look at 11 interesting backstories of how musicians got their stage names.
11 Childish Gambino
Childish Gambino is the stage name of actor, comedian, singer, writer and rapper Donald Glover. Donald Glover was a writer on the NBC series, 30 Rock and is a member of the sketch comedy group, Derrick Comedy. He is best known for his role as Troy Barnes on the NBC sitcom Community. He also has a very successful music career as Childish Gambino. He has released several mixtapes and albums, such as Camp, Because The Internet and STN MTN/Kauai. Donald Glover is a big fan of the iconic and legendary hip-hop group Wu-Tang Clan. Glover got his stage name when he entered his name into a Wu Tang Clan name generator. His friends took their names as a joke but Glover took his serious and it was the birth of Childish Gambino.
10 Miley Cyrus
9 Waka Flocka
8 Iggy Azalea
7 Snoop Dogg
2Pac or Tupac Amaru Shakur was born Lesane Parish Crooks in 1971. Tupac is considered by many to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. He is well known for his bitter feud with East Coast rapper Notorious B.I.G. Tupac released several critically and commercially acclaimed albums, such as 2Pacalyspse Now, Me Against The World and All Eyez on Me. Tupac was shot on September 7, 1996, and died six days later. His mother, Afeni Shakur was an active member of the Black Panther Party. She gave birth to Tupac one month after she was acquitted of more than 150 charges of conspiracy against the U.S Government and New York landmarks. He was Lesane Crooks for nearly a year before his mother changed his name. He’s named after Tupac Amaru II, who led an uprising in Peru against the Spanish Rule in the 18th Century. Tupac would later go by both Tupac and 2Pac as his stage names.
Pink is the stage name of musician Alecia Beth Moore. Pink is known for her unique sense of style and her powerful voice. She has released several critically and commercially acclaimed albums, such as Can’t Take Me Home, I’m Not Dead and Funhouse. She has won three Grammy Awards and six MTV Video Music Awards. As a child, whenever she felt embarrassed her face would turn a bright pink color. This would lead to some nicknaming her pink. The name became permanent after she saw the 1992 neo-noir thriller, Reservoir Dogs, which was the debut of director and writer Quentin Tarantino. She took the name Pink from the character Mr. Pink, played by Steve Buscemi.
3 Rick Ross
2 Lady Gaga
1 Alice Cooper
Alice Cooper was born Vincent Damon Furnier in 1948. However, before it became his stage and legal name, it was actually the name of a band that Furnier was a member of. The Alice Cooper Band had their big breakthrough in the early 70s with the songs, “I’m Eighteen” and “School’s Out”. In the mid-70s, the band broke up and in 1975 Furnier began performing as a solo artist under the name Alice Cooper. He legally changed his name to Alice Cooper to avoid legal issues with members of the original band. Alice Cooper would go on to become one of the most popular and influential of the heavy metal genre. He is known for his wild, elaborate and theatrical live concerts. As the story goes, the band got the name during a seance with a Ouija board that spelled out the name Alice Cooper. It’s claimed that Alice Cooper was a 17th century witch that made contact with them during the session. Later, some of the band members denied this story but the legend continues to grow. Some band members noted that the name was chosen because it sounded wholesome and innocent, which was the complete opposite of their music and image.