Eight Of The Worst Names For Popular Musicians
John Lennon. Mick Jagger. Eddie Van Halen. Dave Matthews. Harry Styles. If your parents gave you a name like that you had no choice but to join a rock band (in Harry Styles case a boy band). The above names are strong and memorable. They are easy to pronounce but hard to forget. They are perfect names for popular musicians.
However, not all popular musicians are as lucky as Bruce Springsteen and Jimmy Page. Some were given names that are better suited to owning a comic book store then blowing the roof off of Madison Square Garden. Below, Musicology-101 looks at eight of the worst names for popular musicians. Some of these dorky appellations were dropped for sturdier sounding nom de plumes while some were actually kept (we admire their courage and loyalty).
Now, just because a name is on our list doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with the artist or their music. In fact, we here at Musicology-101 are big fans of all of the following artists. All we’re saying is these eight names sound more like geeks into cosplay than musicians who play at Coachella.
The “Bottoms Up” singer is the epitome of cool. All you need to do is check out Brantley Gilbert’s Web site to know he’s virile, rugged, and flawed (just enough to where you think you can fix him). If anyone can turn “Gilbert” around it’s Brantley but there’s a lot of nerd in that sobriquet. As names go, “Gilbert” immediately conjures up images of pocket protectors, Magic the Gathering, and Dr. Who. It’s hard to believe that Brantley Gilbert’s Facebook page has three million likes. You’d think with a name like “Brantley Gilbert” his only Facebook friends would be his mom and favorite hobby shop.
Maybe Brantley Gilbert can continue rehabilitating his dorky sounding name this summer during his “Let It Ride Tour.” His trek begins Sept. 19 in Austin, Texas and ends Dec. 6 in Pikeville, Kentucky. Highlights of his outing include Brantley Gilbert performing in Worchester on Sept. 27, Raleigh on Oct. 30, and Anaheim on Nov. 22. Gilbert will be joined by Aaron Lewis or Tyler Farr (depending on the date)—now, those singers have cool names.
The Demon’s real name is “Chaim Witz.” Then he changed it to “Eugene Klein,” followed by “Gene Klein,” and finally “Gene Simmons.” “Chaim Witz” is not an awful name. One could go through life as “Chaim Witz” and be happy and productive. One cannot go through life as “Chaim Witz” and sing rock songs while wearing platform shoes, stage makeup, and leather pants. “Chaim Witz” is the name of a computer programmer or a deli owner. It can’t be the name of one of the founding members of KISS.
“Elvis Costello” is one of the most contrived sounding names in rock history. That’s okay because E.C. is responsible for such great albums as This Year’s Model, Armed Forces, and Get Happy!! He adopted the stage name in part to honor his father (who performed under the name “Day Costello”) and part because his real name is Declan MacManus. That isn’t the worst name but it certainly doesn’t work if you’re one of the greatest songwriters of your generation. He could have kept Declan MacManus had he been a drunk, Irish novelist or the assembly group leader of Sinn Féin.
If you think Donavon Frankenreiter is an odd name for a rock and roller just think how weird it sounds for a surfer. Before becoming a successful recording artist, Frankenreiter was a professional surfer. We doubt they did a lot of hanging ten in the Motherland. If things weren’t bad enough for herr Frankenreiter, one of his closest friends is the Jack Johnson, a musician with a great name.
Now that we’ve placed Lemmy Kilmister on a list of the worst names for popular musicians we’ve decided to enter the witness protection program. Anyone named “Lemmy Kilmister” must own an embarrassing amount of anime. They can’t front a hard rock band named Motorhead. Of course, the real Lemmy Kilmister is the exact opposite of an anime-watching nerd. He claims to have slept with more than one thousand women (a thousand more than most nerds), he used to drink a bottle of Jack Daniels a day (many nerds can’t even stand the taste of beer), and he collects German military regalia (as compared to Star Trek memorabilia). Kilmister might be the guy who shoves nerds into lockers, but he has an awful name for a rock star.
“Reginald” is okay. So is “Dwight.” But, if you put them together you have the perfect name for a twit. “Reginald Dwight” is the guy who tells your boss all the bad things you said about him during lunch or points out a stain on your tie when you’re talking to a pretty girl. It’s easy to understand why Reginald Dwight pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose one last time and changed his name to “Elton John.” Selling 300 million albums is a good indication that the nomenclature switch worked.
“Robert Zimmerman” isn’t too bad but it’s no “Bob Dylan.” Think about it. Statements like “Dylan has gone electric” and “I’m seeing Dylan tonight at the Fillmore” just roll off the tongue. Meanwhile, “Robert Zimmerman” an insurance salesman. “Hello, I’m Robert Zimmerman. Can I talk to you about your policy?” It’s a god thing Zimmerman altered his designation. “Bob Dylan” sounds like one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century. “Robert Zimmerman” sounds like the Twin Ports insurance salesman of the year.
In 2009, Rufus Wainwright wrote an opera. You can get by writing operas with a name like “Rufus,” but making pop albums is a little bit harder. Still, Wainwright has managed to make more than half dozen of them. “Rufus Wainwright” is the name of the wealthy trust fund baby in every movie that has a wealthy trust fund baby. High affluent names run in the family, Rufus’ father is folk singer Loudon Wainwright III. You can’t help but say both names like your Mr. Howell from Gilligan’s Island.