Jacob Zinn :: journalist + photographer

Hello, my stage name is…

Posted in Music, Observations by Jacob Zinn on June 17, 2009

In the hip-hop industry, it’s not uncommon to find every other rap artist with a stage name. It’s not as common in rock and roll, but there are some musicians who stand out because of their monikers. Here’s one guitarist, four lead singers and four bassists who are better known by nicknames than their birth names.

Alice Cooper
Alice Cooper (lead singer) = Vincent Damon Furnier

At the beginning of his music career, it was alleged that Furnier’s stage name was that of a 17th century witch. Odds are this was for publicity as Furnier has said the name came out of nowhere. Sometimes, that’s how it happens.

Black Sabbath
Ozzy Osbourne (lead singer) = John Michael Osbourne

As a child, Osbourne was teased by schoolmates who called him Ozzy. Now he’s famous for that name. Cue maniacal “Crazy Train” laughter.

Guns N’ Roses
Axl Rose (lead singer) = William Bruce Rose, Jr.

Although his stage name doubles as an anagram for “oral sex,” Axl’s birth name is that of his biological father, who left when he was 2. “Rose” comes from his original last name while “Axl” is after a band he used to play in.
In 1986, he legally changed his name to “W. Axl Rose,” which he also has tattooed. Abbreviated, that spells W.A.R.

Slash (guitarist) = Saul Hudson

In Slash’s self-titled autobiography, he credits actor Seymour Cassel for coming up with his stage name. Cassel started calling him Slash because he was always on the go. It turned out to be a pretty sweet moniker.

Gene Simmons (bassist) = Chaim Witz

It goes like this: he was born Chaim Witz in Israel, immigrated to the United States, changed his name to Eugene Klein (Klein is his mothers maiden name), then changed it again to Gene Simmons in tribute to rockabilly musician Jumpin’ Gene Simmons.

Mötley Crüe
Nikki Sixx (bassist) = Frank Carlton Serafino Ferrana, Jr.

Though the beginnings of his “Nikk-name” (See what I did there?) are unclear, it’s obvious that Frank Carlton Serafino Ferrana, Jr. doesn’t have the same ring to it.

Red Hot Chili Peppers
Flea (bassist) = Michael Peter Balzary

Like Slash, Balzary was unable to sit still. Lead singer Anthony Kiedis noticed this and named him Flea because he was so jumpy. I guess it stuck.

Sex Pistols
Johnny Rotten (lead singer) = John Lydon

It’s been rumoured that Lydon’s oral hygiene isn’t that great and that his teeth were, well… you know…

Sid Vicious (bassist) = Simon John Ritchie

This is perhaps the pansiest way to recieve a punk rock stage name. Lydon had a pet hamster named Sid, and one day, it bit Ritchie. Ritchie said Sid was vicious. Recap: Simon John Ritchie got the stage name Sid Vicious from being bitten by a hamster.



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