“When he got that ukulele with one string on it, everything took off. He got free,” says Leon. For Jimi Hendrix, his graduation from ukulele to the six-string was to be the making of him. He left Seattle in 1961, initially enlisting in the US Army before becoming a sought-after guitarist. “He was the best guitar player so everyone wanted to hire him,” reflects Leon.
By the time he’d joined Little Richard’s band, Hendrix had already played with Wilson Pickett, The Isley Brothers, Chuck Jackson and Sam Cooke.
While he knew his role as a sideman, his flamboyance was evident and appears to have caused clashes with Richard. Nevertheless, he stayed long enough to record one single with Richard – the smouldering, begging-and-pleading I Don’t Know What You’ve Got (But It’s Got Me)in early 1965, released on Vee-Jay – and he also made his first TV appearance while a member of Richard’s band, backing soul duo Buddy And Stacy as they covered Junior Walker And The All Stars’ Shotgun on Night Train, filmed in Nashville in the summer of ’65. The clip shows Hendrix resplendent in his dinner suit and bow tie, digging to the horn-powered groove. Less than 18 months later, Jimi landed in London and his meteoric rise had begun…
1. “Stillness Is The Move” (from Bitte Orca, 2009)
2. “Dance For You” (from Swing Lo Magellan, 2012) 3. “Useful Chamber” (from Bitte Orca, 2009)
4. “Fucked For Life” (from New Attitude, 2006)
5. “Gun Has No Trigger” (from Swing Lo Magellan, 2012)
6. “My Offwhite Flag” (from The Glad Fact, 2003)
7. “Depression” (from Rise Above, 2007)
8. “Two Doves” (from Bitte Orca, 2009)
9. “Tour Along The Potomac” (from The Getty Address, 2005)
10. “Because Your Light Is Turning Green” (from Slaves’ Graves & Ballads, 2004
The 10 Best Dirty Projectors Songs
When Dirty Projectors mastermind and bandleader Dave Longstreth sings about being “in the gray mesh shorts” of his alma mater, honestly, I freak out a little bit. When he croons, “I boogied down gargoyle streets, searching in every face for something I can believe,” my stomach burns. Every time I hear about how his “college smells like vomit,” I can’t help but laugh and nod.
I’d been listening to the Dirty Projectors well before I shared an alma mater with Longstreth — who famously dropped out of school to pursue his career in music — but being around campus and listening to his band’s catalog put things into an interesting perspective.
Because soon enough, at school, I found myself kicking around the gargoyle streets, running in gray mesh shorts, and throwing up in dorm stairwells myself. I took biology on the “science hill” in “Off Science Hill.” And for me, anyway, he was right — about everything.
Longstreth’s lyrics are littered with that kind of anxiety that would draw someone away from a set path: anxieties about death, and potential, and loneliness; yearnings for love, and success, and fire, and some sleep.
He was exactly right about feeling 21 and wanting to do something that probably won’t pay well. And the craziest thing is that he got me feeling those things before I even got to school.
Echo and the Bunnymen acabam de divulgar a primeira faixa do seu décimo álbum, Meteorites, previsto para o dia 3 de junho, acabam de mostrar uma canção do seu novo disco, Meteorites. “Market Town”
"Finalmente fizemos o sucessor digno deCrocodiles, Heaven Up Here, Porcupine eOcean Rain", disse o vocalista Ian McCulloch, sem falsa modéstia. "Meteorites é o que o Echo and the Bunnymen representa, intocável, celestial, lindo e real."
1. “Lovers On The Run”
2. “Is This A Breakdown”
3. “Holy Moses”
7. “I Loved The Devil”
9. “Market Town”
10. “New Horizons”
May 2: Assembly Rooms, Leamington Spa, UK
May 6: Alhambra, Paris, France
May 7: Trix, Antwerp, Belgium
May 8: Tivoli, Utrecht, Netherlands
May 10: Academy, Oxford, UK
May 11: Wulfurn Hall, Wolverhampton, UK
May 13: Tyne Theatre, Newcastle, UK
May 14: Ritz, Manchester, UK
May 16: Queens Hall, Edinburgh, UK
May 17: Sheperds Bush Empire, London, UK
May 18: Academy, Bristol, UK
May 20: Philharmonic, Liverpool, UK
So over 30 or more albums, films, DVDs, podcasts and, soon, iPads, they have parodied, deconstructed and severely warped such icons as the Beatles, Elvis, Hitler and god; they’ve done epic paeans to Eskimos and moles, too, in works loaded with dissonant electronic elegies to normalness, arcane spoken-word patches and a cast of sympathetic dweebs, dorks, scum and saints. And for lo these 40 years now, they have explored this elation and revulsion with popular culture while cloaked in utter anonymity.
THIS IS AN ERA WHEN TO LIVE THE LIFE OF POP super-ultra-megastardom means to have one's every pore pried and probed, as if the Truth could be confirmed in bacteria and glandular secretions. But what do we find? More flesh. How refreshing it is, then, to ponder the enduring mystique of a phenomenon such as the Residents, who for over 25 years have explored their elation and revulsion with the evil banality of American pop culture while happily cloaked in utter anonymity. Their giant-eyeball heads have no pores.
Recently, prior to the group's upcoming performance of their latest epic, Wormwood, I had a chat with one of the group's spokespersons, Homer, a folksy longtime associate of the "band" and co-head of the Cryptic Corporation, the Residents' production conglomerate. Homer amiably conveyed the group's way-out Weltanschauung, bizarre beginnings, current crazes and fears for the future.
The Residents, it seems, germinated somewhere in Louisiana, possibly a swamp, but packed their bags and moved to San Mateo in the late '60s.
They spent their early years honing their style and recording such unreleased masterpieces as "The Ballad of Stuffed Trigger" and "Baby Sex." It was here too that they met their guru, The Mysterious N. Senada, whose Theory of Obscurity later inspired them to record The Unreleased Album, a pure-art work created intentionally to be heard by no one.
Moving to San Francisco in 1972, the Residents set up a four-track recording studio in a small, windowless room. Their modest goal was to tell true stories about the real America, the one they knew from puerile pop music, terrible TV and horsepoo Hollywood movies. Significantly, it had dawned on them that any truly countercultural telling of the Great American Adventure not only had to shun stardom, it had to be interpreted in a musically original form –– for them, an honestly white no-soul music derived from disparate views of reality squished together for maximum cranial excitement.
You'll recall that in the wake of '70s punk rock there was a trend called new wave, which spit-shined the sweaty spirit of punk and took it to heady heights at the top of the charts. The Residents, having been discovered by the ravenous British music press, suddenly became the next big new wave thing, a phenomenon that spread into Europe and, in classic fashion, back to America.
Having been officially approved of by the people who wore skinny ties and rolled up the sleeves on their blazers, the group began to sell in sizable, if not exactly mass, quantities.
The Residents used this relative prosperity to found their own label, Ralph Records, which released high-quality uncommercial music by the likes of Fred Frith, Yello, Snakefinger, and Renaldo and the Loaf, and established Pore No Graphics to handle album-cover, poster and T-shirt art. Along the way, they won fans in Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia. The Residents are huge in Greece
ANONYMITY HAS HELPED THE RESIDENTS ACHIEVE durability, but...the masks must become a burden at times. Surely the band wants to rip them off and proclaim, "Yes, it is me, John Johnson, who has created this art." And surely there's been some fanaticism to deal with, the mad compulsion of fans with nothing better to do than to unveil the men (?) inside the eyeball heads.
"It's there," says Homer, "but people seem to respect that it's important that the Residents be allowed to exist in their own little world. We've had a few people who've tried to crash through the backstage doors, or get through security and things like that. But it's like people have accepted that the Residents really want to be treated as a group, they don't want to be treated as individuals, and it's not to anyone's advantage that they be forced to give that up."
The Residents have thus maintained their mystery, yet they couldn't have done it without such ambitious music. From humble beginnings messing with tape loops, detuned guitars, one-fingered cheapo organs and twangy, retarded vocals, often reinterpreting to horrific effect the "best" of the rock canon (hilariously tin-eared and unfunky covers of "Satisfaction," "Land of a Thousand Dances," "It's a Man's Man's Man's World"), they've slowly developed a pretty slick production technique, largely due to their discovery of the Emulator sampler in the early '80s, and their exploration of computers and MIDI programming.
They've taken on works of gigantic scale, such as Eskimo, a history of life in the Arctic, and the ethnic-cleansing/dignity-in-work legend of the Mole trilogy (volumes 1, 2 and 4), which relates the struggle between the industrious, sincere Moles and cheerfully vacuous hypercapitalist Chubs ("We don't want your brow/We don't want your eye/All we really want is/For you to puke and die"). Consistently, they've established a distinctive homegrown tonality, owing equal debts to the Stones, Harry Partch, Mauricio Kagel and Don Kirschner.
Their Third Reich & Roll album, wherein Adolf Hitler imitates Chubby Checker singing "Let's Twist Again" and concludes with a discordant medley of "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida," "Hey Jude" and "Sympathy for the Devil," was also a nod at '70s Krautrock, the Residents demonstrating that America could generate its own avant-garde style derived from a purely American tradition.
The band has been prolific, with two dozen-plus albums released since 1974, wide-screen works loaded with dissonant electronic elegies to normalness, arcane spoken-word patches and a cast of sympathetic (sometimes) weirdos, gimps and losers. The recent two-CD retrospective Our Tired, Our Poor, Our Huddled Masses is a good intro.
THE RESIDENTS HAVE LONG RESIDED IN THE VANGUARD of new technologies –– as well as being among the first to use the Emulator, they've produced a number of award-winning videos and CD-ROMs (Gingerbread Man, Freak Show and their most recent, the bracingly grim Bad Day on the Midway, featuring such endearing characters as Benny the Bump, Herman the Human Mole, the Old Woman and the Sold-Out Artist) –– yet their music remains the product of a highly refined ignorance. The core members enjoy limited instrumental chops, though recent projects have incorporated skilled players and singers to better transmit the sickness.
"From the craftsman concept of musician," says Homer, "the Residents couldn't hardly be worse. From the idea standpoint of musician, with the emotion and energy for music, I'd say they can hardly be beat. With Wormwood, they would write things using the computer, and then print scores out, and then people would come in to play them. They feel like Wormwood, being about the Bible, it was really important to have that human spirit behind it."
Wormwood is, in part, the Residents' reaction to the severely literal-minded Christian atmosphere that has plagued the American consciousness in recent times. Gleaning insight from Jonathan Kirsch's book The Harlot by the Side of the Road: Forbidden Tales of the Bible, the group retells several of the hairier Bible stories without all the mayhem, humiliation and abnormal sex sanded off.
"The Residents watch television a lot," says Homer, "and they've always been fascinated by TV evangelists. Several years ago, they said, 'We have to find out. These people are waving this book in the air and telling other people how horrible they are because this book says they are, and it's time to sit down and read this book and see if it really does say that.' It didn't –– these evangelists were holding the Bible hostage."
The Residents' reading of the Good Book proposes other options. "The Bible," offers Homer, "is saying that it's okay to be failures as humans and as gods, because that's all there is. And it's really not about denouncing this group or that group. In fact, when you read it, everybody gets denounced at some point or another."
KNOWING THAT THE RESIDENTS LIKE TO KEEP UP with all the latest nifty trends, I ask Homer if there're any new bands they like.
"The Residents are very fond of the Spice Girls, and Hanson particularly," says Homer. "They like them a lot, because they really love pop music, and they think pop music should never last, that two weeks later you should forget entirely about the music and who performed it. So they like whoever does that."
Well, I guess these veteran Residents aren't a pop band then, going by their own definition. I wonder what they'll be doing 20 years from now.
"I've heard the Residents talking about what they'll be doing 100 years from now," Homer says, cryptically.
"I'm not allowed to say, but they have some interesting schemes on how the Residents will live forever...They're thinking replacements. They're thinking apprenticeships and training."
The Residents, eminent purveyors of a grotesquely beautiful, sometimes anti-, sometimes pro-American art, are an American success story, having achieved a preferred way of life by precisely locating their audience. And who might that audience be?
Homer says, "You know, in high school you've got the majority of people that sort of rigidly listen to the same music, and they like the same things and dress the same way. And then you have this smaller group of people that stand apart from that –– they can't really relate to that larger group of people at all, and don't like anything they like. That's the Residents' audience. They're everywhere."
Hardy Fox, the Residents’ longtime spokesman, gives us some insight into the “band”’s Talking Light tour and new album Lonely Teenager:
B: Who and what are the Residents at this point in time?
HARDY FOX: Next year is the 40th anniversary for the group. And the way they’ve survived all this long is they’re constantly evolving. They never really set out as a traditional band, and they’ve never tried to record hit music. As a result, they’ve never had any real commitment to be a certain way or stay a certain way or play certain music in certain styles.
The Talking Light show approaches the concept of telling stories set against abstract music. It’s something they really hadn’t done particularly in a live situation; the touring shows have generally been compositional. The stories can change from show to show, and there’s a lot more improvisation that goes on, and calculated surprises, to keep the music from becoming too stale and predictable –– for them.
“Randy’s Ghost Stories” are performed on the Talking Light tour. Apparently these have something to do with TV culture and commercials, among other vaguely delineated things. There are many different kinds of ghosts, of course.
The Residents don’t even know for sure if ghosts exist. “Randy’s Ghost Stories” has a lot to do with the concept of aging and death, and how aging and death affects perceptions. We’re haunted.
The new album Lonely Teenager, which grew out of ideas germinated on the Talking Light tour, reveals the music growing more subtly complex –– and beautiful, and scary, too. “The mirror has two sides” is a sample lyric. “I threw the ring and the baby’s skeleton into the hole, and I went home.” “I tried to convince myself it was a dream.” What is going on here? Maybe it doesn’t matter.
I don’t actually know. But it has something to do with a loss of innocence, and completing the cycle of life to death. Everything about it really points to those elements in some way or another. It’s something they’re concerned with; I mean, you don’t get to be doing your 40thanniversary without getting pretty old yourself in the process.As people age, they stop recognizing themselves when they look in the mirror. There’s a two-sided mirror in the show, one side reflecting Randy and the other reflecting the audience. The audience has to face the mirrors just like the performers do –– just like your death, each person has to deal with that at a very individual level.
The Residents don’t take a political or moral stance as such. But do they feel that their art posits moral imperatives?
I feel reasonably certain not, because I don’t know that they think anything really exists. No, they don’t really take much of a stand on anything. They’re much more in the position of other people taking stands. I don’t think that they really have an agenda, as far as a political or social agenda goes, but they’re aware that other people do and sometimes they incorporate that in what they do.
How about musical/artistic imperatives? Is there a kind of music that can and should be pushed, to edify, to better entertain?
No, because when you’re dealing with sound you’re dealing with an abstract thing, and it’s sort of like dealing with color. It has a lot to do with one side saying, “This is what I like,” and then you’ve got the other side saying, “Well, I agree with you, I like that too,” or “That’s not what I like.” The reality is, there are many different ways of seeing things, different ways of thinking, some of which you understand and enjoyed or those you don’t understand and you don’t enjoy. There’s really no right or wrong in music.
Are the Residents affected at all by things of a topical nature? Spurred to create music by current social or political phenomena, natural disasters, assassinations, etc., etc.?
Usually not, but I know that they were on tour in Europe when 9/11 happened, and so very impacted with that uncertainty of not knowing what was going to happen next, whether there would be war or attacks all over the place or whatever it might be. And the big concern was whether they’d be able to get back home, because planes had stopped flying and there was just no sense of what was going to happen. Well, there were two more weeks of the tour, and all they could do really was just to keep touring, because that was the reality that they had. And they were the family that they had; it made them very tight and just made them want to keep doing those shows.
I’m hearing some really incredible guitar playing on Lonely Teenager. Is this a musician who can be named ?
Bob. It’s Bob.
Oh, Bob. Everybody knows Bob.
The Residents have maintained a policy of strict anonymity for 40 years, as if in rebuke to celebrity, though perhaps it’s just a practical stance.
Well, this is interesting: They’re not anonymous now. They’re now Randy, Chuck and Bob, that’s the new version of the Residents. Of course, when you get down to it, Randy, Chuck and Bob are just names like everybody has, it doesn’t give information about who the people are, all it does is give them names. They could be John, Paul George and Ringo just as easily and it still wouldn’t give any information about who the people are.Everyone’s anonymous if all you know is their names. But the Residents are different because you know not only that their names are Randy, Chuck and Bob, but you also have 40 years of seeing what they’ve done. So you know much more about Randy. Chuck and Bob than anyone who would actually be anonymous.
Okay, now strictly musically speaking, what sort of aesthetic do the Residents pursue? I’m still struck by how their music grows ever more just plain beautiful. It is, of course, as dark as ever, if not darker, even. Is this what they call a deliberate juxtaposition?
Their view of the world is that it’s both beautiful and dark, and you know, they’re not even really two different things. Life is complicated, and that’s why there’s always an element of dark humor in what they do as well, because they see that too as a part of the world, a part of humanity. So they sort of feel like it’s important to attach a lot of contrasting emotions next to each other, because it heightens the impact of each of them.
The Residents have influenced the culture, but who might’ve influenced the Residents? Did they find an affinity with Beefheart and Zappa, for example?
There’s a similar attitude of not feeling like you have to conform. The Residents appreciated the fact that Beefheart and Zappa had a vision that they pushed forward, and that it wasn’t a vision based upon what other people were doing. The Residents knew that anyone can do weird music, but respected people who represent a vision, even though it may be a popular vision.
Such as the Residents' skewed interpretations of the Rolling Stones.
Like Beefheart, they were a blues band, and the Residents always loved blues music. The Rolling Stones were interpreting an American form into a British form that changed what it was. They thought it made sense to try and change it back into an American form. It’s like translating Spanish back to English again, how it changes the meaning of things.
Would the Residents accord similar respect to Lady Gaga?
They’ve seen her on television and were very touched with her very strong sense of visuals. But they would point out that she could be anonymous, too: If it says “Lady Gaga” on it…[laughs]
The Residents have pursued their alternative-to-all-alternatives music and art for 40 years, weathered the storms from late-‘60s hippie counterculture through ‘70s-‘80s-‘90s DIY counter-countercultures right on up into the Internet digital free-for-all 2000s.
So how do they keep up? How do they stay savvy, trendy and very, very popular?
The Residents work and think by observing, so they feel like they have to be tuned into where the culture is. Even if they’re not trying to imitate what’s current musically, they’re always influenced by what’s going on musically, as well as any other art form. And they’re always very interested in technology, and they keep on top of it –– What is this? What’s the impact on the culture? How does it change who we are?
The Residents have done a series of podcasts called River of Crime. That seems like a natural medium for the group.
That’s an area they’re exploring, providing the story by music: How do you combine them and get interesting new ideas that work? And they’re very impressed by the iPad; they’re trying to figure out how that can be turned into an instrument for supplying media, just like a radio. Ultimately, the Residents want to create a whole new medium itself, and that’s what they’re looking for down the road.
Who are the Residents for?
In every school across the world you’ll find those pockets of people who don’t really relate to mainstream culture and who want something –– who need something –– different. Because they are different. And those are your lonely teenagers.
Ice-T, aka Tracy Marrow Iceberg Slim was a reformed pimp who later wrote novels. From Ice-T’s autobiography: “I’d taken my name as a tribute to Iceberg, and then it hit me one day – dude is a writer. I thought he was fly because he was a pimp, but I realized that I really admired him because he was a writer.”
Sting, aka Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner Sting’s nickname came after he performed wearing a black and yellow sweater with hooped stripes while onstage with the Phoenix Jazzmen. The bandleader, Gordon Solomon, thought that the sweater made him look like a bee, which prompted the nickname “Sting”. In the 1985 documentary Bring on the Night he was addressed by a journalist as “Gordon”, to which he replied: “My children call me Sting, my mother calls me Sting, who is this Gordon character?”
Björk, aka Björk Guðmundsdóttir So this one isn’t a made-up name, but you can probably guess why she decided to shorten her name. By the way, if you want to pronounce it properly, it rhymes with “jerk”.
Cher, aka Cherilyn Sarkisian Her first solo recording was an unsuccessful single released as “Bonnie Jo Mason”. Her second attempt was released under the name “Cherilyn” (written and produced by Sonny Bono) in 1964. Sonny and Cher then released under the name “Caesar and Cleo”, which again didn’t get anywhere. The first “Sonny and Cher” album (“Look At Us”) was released in 1965, and contained the hit “I Got You Babe”, and the name stuck. Basically, she kept changing her name until her music stuck. Interestingly, after an appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1965, Ed mispronounced her name ‘Chur’ during their introduction, so for about 9 years after that , she started spelling her name with an accent mark: Chér. Seal, aka Seal Henry Olusegun Olumide Adeola Samuel Once again, this is a case of “OK, so nobody is going to remember my name, let along how to pronounce it”.
Bono, aka Paul David Hewson All of Pauls’ school friends in Dublin gave each other nicknames, and his was “Bono Vox,” which was Latin for “good voice,” based on the Bonavox hearing aid store in his hometown. Eventually he dropped the “Vox” and became just Bono.
Drake, aka Aubrey Drake Graham In terms of street cred, you get further with Drake than Aubrey (except when he was on Degrassi, where he was still called Aubrey) Enya, aka Eithne Ní Bhraonáin “Eithne” is actually pronouced “Enya”, so instead of torturing people with having to figure out how to pronounce her name, she changed it to the phonetic spelling.
Gotye, aka Wouter “Wally” De Backer This one is simple, “Gtye” is the french version of “Wouter”. He said: “I figured my own name was, a) not very showbiz, and b) just didn’t really feel very right. Wally is my nickname but you know, Wally doesn’t really feel right for a performing artist – maybe if I was writing kind of novelty music! I don’t know. Gotye is a name that my mum used to call me sometimes when I was little.”
Hammer, aka MC Hammer, aka Stanley Kirk Burrell Because I’m of the generation that listened to 80′s music when it actually was the 80′s, I of course know him as “MC Hammer”, but he dropped the “MC” a while ago. While Stanley was a bat boy for the Oakland A’s, Pedro Garcia thought that he looked so much like Hammerin’ Hank Aaron that he started calling him “Hammer”.
Jay-Z, aka Shawn Corey Carter Although there are a few people claiming that his name comes from the spot in Brooklyn where the J and Z trains meet up, Carter says that it’s a shortened form of his nickname when he was a kid: “Jazzy”. Ke$ha, aka Kesha Rose Sebert OK, so it’s her first name – buw what’s ith the dollar sign? In her own words: “It’s actually just being ironic about the whole money thing, because I actually stand for the opposite of putting a lot of emphasis on money”.
?uestlove, aka Ahmir Khalib Thompson Ahmir at one point wanted to be called “?”, because it sounded anonymous. To his disappointment, people started calling him “Question Mark” instead – so he changed his name to “B.R.O. the R. ?”. Of course, people didn’t know what to make of that either, and started calling him “Brother Question Mark”. Finally, he changed it to “?uestlove” – here’s why: “In the old days, your name ended in rock, ski or love. ?uestrock was not happening and neither was ?uestski. So ?uestlove became my new old school name, ’cause I’m so old school!”. Yeeesh.
Ludacris, aka Christopher Brian Bridges A perversion of his name Chris. Here’s what he said when asked about his name: “I made my name up. My first name is Chris, and Ludacris means beyond crazy, ridiculous — which describes my personality, where I’m comin’ from with my music, everything.”
Skrillex, aka Sonny John Moore Aside from being one of the most mispronounced names around (Skillrex, anyone?), the nickname came from high school. People used to call him Skrillex or Skril or Skrilly. He started using the name Skrillex as a username for social networking, and it stuck.
Moby, aka Richard Melville Hall According to Hall, his middle name and the nickname “Moby” were given to him by his parents because of an ancestral relationship to Moby Dick author Herman Melville: “The basis for Richard Melville Hall—and for Moby—is that supposedly Herman Melville was my great-great-great-granduncle”. He has also released music under the names “Voodoo Child”, “Schaumgummi”, and as a member of the bands Vatican Commandos, AWOL, Caeli Seoul, and Gin Train.
Pink, aka Alecia Beth Moore “Pink” was a name that kids at school used to tease her with: “It was a mean thing at first; some kids at camp pulled my pants down and I blushed so much, and they were like, ‘Ha ha! Look at her! She’s pink!’ And then the movie Reservoir Dogs came out and Mr. Pink was the one with the smart mouth, so it just happened all over again.”
Prince, aka The Artist Formerly Known as Prince, aka Prince Rogers Nelson He shortened his name to just “Prince” for his career, the same way Madonna did. When his label started limiting his creativity, he did not want to continue making money for them. From his vantage, they could have “Prince” (the artist they signed), because he decided to change his name to the symbol and become an entirely new artist, verbalized as “the artist formerly known as Prince” or just “the artist” for short. The “Love Symbol” that he used was explained as a combination of the symbols for male (♂) and female (♀).In order to use the symbol in print media, Warner Bros. had to organize a mass mailing of floppy disks with a custom font. Because the symbol had no stated pronunciation, he was often referred to as “The Artist Formerly Known as Prince”, as well as “The Artist”. When his contract expired and he was able to switch labels and was restored full ownership and creativity over his music, he dropped the symbol and went back to being Prince. Will.i.am, aka William James Adams, Jr. William describes in his own words: “I liked playing with words. I noticed that my name was a sentence, meaning one with will, who is strong-willed. And so I called my mom and said, ‘Hey, Mom, do you mind if I call myself Will.i.am?’ She was like: ‘Whaaa? You’re crazy.’ She was cool with it.”
Deadmau5, aka Joel Zimmerman Pronounced “Deadmouse”, the name “deadmau5″ originated when Zimmerman claimed to have found a dead mouse in his computer while replacing his video card. He discussed this with chat room users and became known as “that dead mouse guy”. The nickname “Deadmouse” was too long for the chat server, so he shortened it to deadmau5. Very 1337 of him.
Sade, aka Helen Folasade Folusade Her stage name, a shortened form of her middle name, was adopted almost immediately, because her Nigerian neighbors refused to call her by the English name Helen. Slash, aka Saul Hudson He was given the nickname “Slash” by family friend Seymour Cassel, because he was “always in a hurry, zipping around from one thing to another.”
Coolio, aka Artis Leon Ivey Jr. As a kid, Coolio’s mom had always called him Boo. He even had it tattooed on his arm in eighth grade. Although Boo or Artis is still what the family calls him, the street name Coolio came about in a more amusing fashion. Sitting around one day in Compton in his 20s playing guitar, one of Coolio’s friends came up and said, “Who do you think you are, Coolio Iglesias?,” referringto Latin crooner Julio Iglesias. The name stuck.
The Edge, aka David Howell Evans From his biography: “Many theories exist concerning how Edge came to get his unusual name. As teenagers, he and Bono were both members of a group called Lypton Village, where everyone was given a name that suited them (as opposed to the one they’d been born with). Some say that the name The Edge was chosen due to his ‘edgy’ style of guitar playing, while others say it was because he rarely became fully involved in things, preferring instead to remain ‘on the edge’. Either way, the name stuck”
Feist, aka Leslie Feist Yes, it’s as obvious as it sounds: ”Feist” sounds way cooler than “Leslie”. Johnny Rotten, aka John Lydon The origin of John Lydon’s stage name has had two longstanding explanations. One, given in a Daily Telegraph feature interview with Lydon in 2007, was that he was given the name in the mid 1970s, when his lack of oral hygiene led to his teeth turning green. Another story says the name was given to him by Sex Pistols guitarist Steve Jones, who saw Lydon’s teeth and exclaimed, “You’re rotten, you are!” Either way, In 2008 he had extensive dental work performed in Los Angeles, at a reported cost of US $22,000. Lydon explained that it wasn’t done out of vanity: “It was necessity … all those rotten teeth were seriously beginning to corrupt my system”.
Sid Vicious, aka John Simon Ritchie John was given the nickname “Sid Vicious” by John Lydon, after Lydon’s pet hamster, Sid. The hamster had bitten Ritchie, who said that “Sid is really vicious!” The animal was described by Lydon as “the softest, furriest, weediest thing on earth.”
Billie Holiday, aka Eleanora Fagan Holiday took her professional pseudonym from Billie Dove, an actress she admired, and the musician Clarence Holiday, her probable father. At the outset of her career, she spelled her last name Halliday,” the birth-surname of her father, but eventually changed it to Holiday,” his performing name. (by the way, if you have time, look up her story, it’s very interesting)
Bonnie Tyler, aka Gaynor Hopkins In 1970, aged 19, Gaynor entered a talent contest, singing the Mary Hopkin hit “Those Were the Days”, and finished in second place, winning £1(!). She then was chosen to sing in a band with front man Bobby Wayne, known as Bobby Wayne & The Dixies. Two years later, she formed her own band called Imagination, and performed with them in pubs and clubs all over southern Wales. It was then that she decided to adopt the stage name of “Sherene Davis”, taking the names from her niece’s forename and favourite aunt’s surname. 1975, she was discovered by Roger Bell who arranged a recording contract for her with RCA Records. Before signing, she was asked to choose a different stage name and settled on Bonnie Tyler. Despite the two name changes, her family and friends still know her as Gaynor.
Bo Diddley, aka Otha Elias Bates McDaniel The origin of the name is somewhat unclear, as several differing stories and claims exist. Diddley claims that his peers gave him the nickname, which he first suspected to be an insult (“Diddly” is a truncation of “diddly-squat”, retaining the same meaning of “nothing” and “bo” meaning “very”). He also said that the name first belonged to a singer his adoptive mother was familiar with, while harmonicist Billy Boy Arnold once said in an interview that it was originally the name of a local comedian that Leonard Chess borrowed for the song title and artist name for Bo Diddley’s first single.
Guitar craftsman Ed Roman reported that another source says it was his nickname as a Golden Gloves boxer.
Connie Francis, aka Concetta Rosa Maria Franconero During the rehearsals for her appearance on Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts in 1955, she was advised by Godfrey to change her stage name to Connie Francis for the sake of easier pronunciation. Godfrey also told her to drop the accordion – advice she gladly followed, as she had begun to hate the large and heavy instrument. Probably a good decision.
Elvis Costello, aka Declan Patrick McManus His great-grandmother’s name was Costello, and he started out after his old band Flip City disbanded in 1975 using the name ‘D. P. Costello’. After signing with Stiff records, he changed the first name to Elvis, purportedly at Jake Riviera’s suggestion. in his words: ‘I thought Elvis was better name than Jesus, and almost as exclusive’.
Liberace, aka Walter Busterkeys, aka Wladziu Valentino Liberace While born “Wladziu Valentino Liberace”, he later changed his first name to “Walter”, but his friends and relatives knew him as “Lee”. He ended up going by his last name only at the insistence of Polish piano virtuoso Paderwski, who presumably gave his the great advice that nobody would remember “Wladziu”.
Snoop Dogg, aka Cordozer Broadus His parents nicknamed him “Snoopy” as a child because of his appearance ( they thought he looked like Charlie Brown’s dog , Snoopy, from the Peanuts comic strip ); but they usually addressed him as Calvin at home. ..He took the stage name “Snoop Doggy Dogg” while he began recording music back in 1992, then shortened it to “Snoop Dog”.