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Artists Change Their Names

Updated on October 5, 2016

Musicians, artists, movie stars, and other celebrities often change their names. Why? I have often wondered that, and maybe you have too.

I mean, who would name their child Lady Gaga for Pete's sake? Personally, I use a different name for my visual art, as well as my writing, than I do for everything else. Am I a schizophrenic? Perhaps.

Actually there are some great reasons why people change their names as artists.

How many names are you known by?

See results

A few interesting name changes of artists:

  • Babyface - Kenneth Brian Edmonds
  • Chubby Checker - Earnest Evans
  • Nat King Cole - Nathaniel Adams Coles
  • Elton John was born Reginald Kenneth Dwight
  • Woody Allen - Allen Stewart Konigsberg
  • George Burns changed his name from Nathan Birnbaum
  • Joan Crawford - Lucille La Sueur
  • Tom Cruise is the stage name for Tom Mapother
  • Frances Gumm changed her name to Judy Garland
  • Whoopie Goldberg’s - Caryn Johnson
  • Hulk Hogan’s real name is Terry Jene Bollea
  • Boris Karloff’s real name is William Henry Pratt
  • Michael Landon was born Eugene Orowitz
  • Marilyn Monroe was born Norma Jean Baker (you probably knew that)
  • Demi Moore was born Demetria Gene Guynes
  • Chuck Norris is really Carlos Ray
  • Tina Turner’s real name is Anna Mae Bullock
  • Connie Francis - Concetta Marla Franconero
  • Lady Gaga - Stefani Joanna Angelina Germanotta
  • MC Hammer - Stanley Kirk Burrel
  • Faith Hill - Audrey Faith Perry
  • Englebert Humperdinck - Arnold George Dorsey
  • Wynonna Judd - Christina Claire Ciminella
  • LL Cool J - James Todd Smith
  • Queen Latifah - Dana Owens
  • Liberace - Wiadziu Lee Valentino
  • Lulu - Marie McDonald McLaughlin Lawrie
  • Barry Manilow - Barry Alan Pincus
  • Billy Ocean - Leslie Sebastian Charles
  • Puff Daddy/P Diddy - Sean John Combs
  • Sade - Helen Folasade Adu
  • Seal - Henry Olusegun Olumide Samuel

Mind you, some people do go by the name they were given as a child - more power to them. But here are some reasons why you or some other artist (self proclaimed or merited) may look for another name:


I suspect that is where Lady Gaga came from - I have never known another Lady Gaga - have you? Someone with a very common name will try to find one that stands out from the rest. People are less likely to forget a strange name.

Their given name is too hard to remember:

Some artists during the Renaissance Period in Italy had nicknames that stayed with them. For example, Donato di Niccolo di Betto Bardi is much better known as Donatello , Jacopo Comin is known as Tintoretto, and Alessandro di Mariano di Vanni Filipepi is best known as Boticelli .

Their given name is too Common:

If your given name brings up thousands of people with the same name on Google search, you might want to stand out from all the rest by finding a name that no one else has.

Their given name is too hard to pronounce:

We have that problem in our family, because most people have difficult saying the name Kongaika (it means part fish BTW). We always have to tell people that you say it with a soft "g" like in singer, or King Kong, but most people say it with a hard "g" like in digger.


Some artists, actors or writers like to separate their private life from their public life. With social networking sites being so popular these days, many individuals like to remain anonymous so they can say what they like online.

What fits the genre of their art:

Personally, my given name does not suit the type of art that I do, but the name I have chosen to go by sounds more Polynesian. Much of my art and articles I write are Polynesian in nature - hence Elayne is a better fit.

To Switch Brain Modes:

Some artists claim they can think better with their right brain when they assume their "other" name. They can slip into a different personality to perform best. Sounds kind of weird, but I identify with this.

SEO (Search Engine Optimization):

If someone wants to appear on the front page of the Google results, one name would be easier to find than a longer name. Consider the name Picasso as opposed to Francis Bacon which could bring up a myriad of pages including recipes.

Other reasons: Other reasons that a performance or visual artist may change their name could include ethnicity (either wanting to be identified with or not, and also to avoid discrimination) or family connections (any skeletons in their closet?). Maybe they just feel that their name is dull, uninteresting, or sounds like a swear word in another language, or brings about an undesired image. Perhaps their name is just too long to write over and over - think of all those autographs!

Changing a name and committing to it is a very interesting process which should not be considered lighty. It is sort of a rebirth, a commitment with confidence of marking a change in your life.

Most performance artists call it a stage name . A well-thought-out name can make a big difference to the success of their career. Using their given name may inhibit their success.

For actors in the United States and The United Kingdom there are guilds that stipulate that no two members may have the same name. So do not try being another Lady Gaga - try to come up with something different. Often, agents choose a name for a rising star.

Writers call it a pen name .

Professional wrestlers call it a ring name .

I guess visual artists would call it their artist name or alter ego . Others feel that an artist is not authentic when they change their name. That is one way to look at it.

If someone else has the same name as you, at least you can be the BEST of them all by your reputation.


Submit a Comment

  • elayne001 profile image

    Elayne 7 years ago from Rocky Mountains

    Well, at least you are stuck with an interesting one. It is easy to get hooked on HP! Thanks for your explanation.

  • Twilight Lawns profile image

    Twilight Lawns 7 years ago from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K.

    Hi, Elayne. In explanation, I was reading something by Christopher Reilly (Mr Sticky) on HP and wanted to comment but thought I would have to "belong". I used the name of a site I have, thinking it would be a "once off" but now I'm hooked with HP.


  • elayne001 profile image

    Elayne 7 years ago from Rocky Mountains

    Wow Twilight Lawns - that is a mouthful. I like your name too and wonder how you came to it. Thanks for an interesting comments.

  • Twilight Lawns profile image

    Twilight Lawns 7 years ago from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K.

    Yes but if Picasso had gone with his full name, Francis Bacon would be the winner... Cookery sites or not.

    Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso... quite a mouthful (the name, not the bacon sandwich)

    Interesting hub, Thank you.

    And if someone's said it already, I appologise.

  • elayne001 profile image

    Elayne 7 years ago from Rocky Mountains

    So true Lisa HW. It keeps things more interesting by changing names for whatever reason. But, it can also cause confusion. Each to their own, right? Thanks for commenting.

  • Lisa HW profile image

    Lisa HW 7 years ago from Massachusetts

    My instinct is to think people shouldn't change their names; but, let's face it, between privacy issues and the fact that some people have some pretty blah or unappealing names, it's hard to imagine someone NOT changing it. :)

  • peacegirl101 profile image

    peacegirl101 7 years ago

    Yes they are truly amazing. I hope you get to go to Florida soon and get the opportunity to feed and pet a real dolphin. It is truly an experience you will never forget.

    Aloha! :)


  • elayne001 profile image

    Elayne 7 years ago from Rocky Mountains

    I haven't been to Florida, but would love to go there. I have not yet touched a real dolphin, but have watched them in Hawaii at the Sea Life Park. They are amazing.

  • peacegirl101 profile image

    peacegirl101 7 years ago

    Well, the hub is mostly pictures of dolphins, and some quick info about my favorite type of dolphin, the Bottle Nose Dolphin. A Sea Life Park? sounds interesting! I have been to Sea World in Orlando, FL. Have you heard of that place? I petted and fed a real dolphin there it was such an amazing experience!

    I love dolphins they are one of my favorite animals.



  • elayne001 profile image

    Elayne 7 years ago from Rocky Mountains

    Aloha again peacegirl101. What do you tell about dolphins. We have a Sea Life Park here in Hawaii and I love to watch them. I have been watching movies about how they suffer in captivation. People are making money off of them which I think is so sad. Anyway - good luck with your hub.

  • peacegirl101 profile image

    peacegirl101 7 years ago

    Very interesting! I've always wondered why artists and celeb's changed their names! good job and 'mahola' for the info! Aloha

    PS: remember I have a hub named Dolphins? Well I actaully found someone with a hub named dolphins just like mine, and I want to change the name of my Hub. Got any good names for a hub about dolphins?

  • elayne001 profile image

    Elayne 7 years ago from Rocky Mountains

    Thanks so much pmccray. Hope you find a name you like. I actually have a couple I go by.

  • pmccray profile image

    pmccray 7 years ago from Utah

    This hub was very interesting. I've often toyed with a pseudonym since joining hubpages, but have yet to find one to my liking. I think I will give this some thought again.

    After reading some of the real names of celebs many needed a name change . . Wiadziu Lee Valentino - ah yeah . . . Liberace is much more memorable.

    Great hub, great writing. Voted up, marked useful and shared.

  • elayne001 profile image

    Elayne 7 years ago from Rocky Mountains

    I agree Pamela99, but it really did get her some attention - for good or bad! Thanks for commenting.

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

    Elayne, This was an interesting hub. I knew the actors and singers changed their names more often than not but I didn't know there was any rule about choosing the same name although why someone would want to be called Lady Gaga is beyond me.

  • elayne001 profile image

    Elayne 7 years ago from Rocky Mountains

    Thanks puresilence - now there's an interesting name - would love to hear about that one.

    @Scribenet - oh no! another one - at least you can be the best! Glad you enjoyed it.

    @LillyGrillzit - Hi Lilly - I appreciate your stopping by and leaving some comments.

  • LillyGrillzit profile image

    Lori J Latimer 7 years ago from The River Valley, Arkansas

    Thank you! Very cool Hub

  • Scribenet profile image

    Scribenet 7 years ago from Ontario, Canada

    Great informative Hub! I didn't realize there were so many reasons to change a name to be used in public...but I like the reasoning! There is another scribenet on blogs, so I may have to think of something more original eventually. I just chose this one as an ID for the

  • puresilence profile image

    puresilence 7 years ago from New Delhi

    Good one!! Keep penning!!

  • elayne001 profile image

    Elayne 7 years ago from Rocky Mountains

    Why thanks dealrocker. I like your name - curious as to how you chose that one.

  • dealrocker profile image

    dealrocker 7 years ago from California

    Each and every word in this article seems to be true. Very well written. Cheers!...

  • elayne001 profile image

    Elayne 7 years ago from Rocky Mountains

    I enjoyed reading about your name search and those of others. Great ideas. Thanks for adding your comments bill yon.

  • bill yon profile image

    bill yon 7 years ago from sourcewall

    I am an artist myself I hope to one day hit it big in the graphic novel world.I have played around with a lot of pen names but I haven't found one yet.But here is something that you probably did not know Jamie Foxx started out with Two names the other one was Tracy Green,He chose these names because they was both male and female names and he thought that they might increase his chances of getting booked for stand up gigs.For years he performed stand up under these two names it just so happened that he got his big break under the name "JAMIE FOXX" he could have just as easily been "TRACY GREEN".If you are an artist the right name can make you or break you Busta Rhymes the rapper was named by Chuck D from Public Enemy and that named made Busta a hip-hop super star.Redd Foxx was named by Malcom X and Redd Foxx went on to have a great career in stand-up and television with Sanford and Son.Look at the "Situation" from Jersey Shore that is a really cool Showbiz name to have and I do not watch Jersey Shore but I know who the situation is because when I first heard the name it stuck in my head.Stephen King first pen name was RICHARD DONNER (at least I think it was Richard Donner..)but his writing career did not take off until he became Stephen King.I believe the right name for an artist can bring out the artist full potential because I believe there is power in names,But you have to choose the one that fits you.I'm still searching for mine.The story behind my hub name bill yon goes like this.....I stumbled across hubpages by accident one day while searching for a job....I thought it would be cool to have a blog to play around with so I joined I had to pick a name but I could not think of any thing.....I read alot of magazines and books on self made millionaires...I had just bought a copy of this magazine called "BILLIONAIRES" so I broke the word "BILLION" done to "BILL YON" and the rest is history.

  • elayne001 profile image

    Elayne 7 years ago from Rocky Mountains

    I would be interested to hear the story of your name. Glad you enjoyed the article tracykarl99.

  • tracykarl99 profile image

    Tracy 7 years ago from San Francisco

    This was a fun and fascinating read. My hub-name has a story behind it, I'll have to tell you some day. Thanks for a great article!!

  • elayne001 profile image

    Elayne 7 years ago from Rocky Mountains

    Maybe some do reddog1027 - but I imagine that most give it quite a bit of thought. How about your name? Where did you get it?

  • profile image

    reddog1027 7 years ago

    How interesting. And I always thought that their agents just pulled stage names out of their hat.

  • elayne001 profile image

    Elayne 7 years ago from Rocky Mountains

    @dahoglund. I also know some artists that wear beards - but I will just change my name instead :)

    Thanks for sharing Mentalist acer - I wondered about your new name - I quite like the one you chose!

    Thanks LianaK - Glad you enjoyed the article.

    @equealla - I didn't know that about numerology. Luck is something we all can use for sure. Aloha!

  • equealla profile image

    equealla 7 years ago from Pretoria, South Africa

    Some actors use numerology for good luck in their names. I suppose in a competetive market like that, you need all the luck you can get.

    Stimulating topic!

  • LianaK profile image

    LianaK 7 years ago

    Very very interesting hub! Great job.

  • Mentalist acer profile image

    Mentalist acer 7 years ago from A Voice in your Mind!

    Believe it or not there are hundreds of Bryan Trahans in Louisiana so I figured on Mentalist acer,an interesting read Elayne;)

  • dahoglund profile image

    Don A. Hoglund 7 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

    When I was in college in the days before beards were common I was chatting with an art student and asked him why art student all seem to wear beards. He said that people sort of expect it.Could be the same with names.

  • elayne001 profile image

    Elayne 7 years ago from Rocky Mountains

    Thanks for checking out my hub RTalloni and leaving your thoughts.

    Hi again Hello, hello. I had to check Google to see what you were referring to - the British Prime Minister's daughter. Now I get it. Thanks for your addition.

  • Hello, hello, profile image

    Hello, hello, 7 years ago from London, UK

    How about ENDELLION - David Cameron's daught because they stayed in that villiage? I think if you name your child Maria or Peter you will get run out of town.

  • RTalloni profile image

    RTalloni 7 years ago from the short journey

    Your title grabbed me and I loved your ending. Great look at the why behind name choices!