How are celebrities’ names so cool? Well, more often than not the famous names that we all know and love are not their birth names. Stage names are created for numerous reasons. For example, some celebs prefer to keep their real names private in order to live more normal lives outside the limelight, while others choose names for sentimental reasons. Let’s check out these celebs’ stage names and find out why and how they were created.
It’s hard to believe that one of the most famous names in our current generation is actually a made-up nickname. While the world knows this pop star who turned into ab oscar-winning actress as Lady Gaga, her real name is Stefani. To be accurate, her full name is Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta – total mouthful, we know!
This might be why her producer nicknamed her “Gaga” after the Queen song “Radio Gaga.” To make it more regal, she then added the “Lady” before.
This Australian-born rapper gained international fame with her song “Fancy”. We hope by now you know that we’re referring to Ms. Iggy Azalea. While her stage name is unique, so is her real name – Amethyst Amelia Kelly.
Yes, you heard us right! So, how did she go from Amethyst to Iggy? She used a childhood trick of combining your first pet’s name with the street you grew up with. Ta-da!
Believe it or not, one of the West Coast’s OG rappers actually got his stage name from his mama, Beverly Tate. Mother Snoop (we just gave her a nickname too) started using this nickname when calling her son after noticing his obsession with the Peanuts character and thinking the two bore resemblance.
The famed American rapper’s real name is actually Calvin Cordozar Broadus Jr. We understand if you have to take a moment to get used to calling Snoop “Calvin,” it took us time too!
Born Andrew John Hozier-Byrne, this Irish musician chose to shorten his name shortly after releasing his debut EP. Unlike the other celebs we have previously mentioned, Andrew’s stage name is actually part of his birth name.
We think he did a good job using “Hozier” instead of Andrew or John, as it’s more original. When asked why he chose his stage name, he simply said it would be “easier to remember.”
Miley Cyrus is one of the most famous faces in the world. She rose to fame with her Disney stardom and continued to impress audiences with her music career. Interestingly enough, Miley isn’t her original name but rather Destiny Hope.
So, how is one destined to receive such a unique nickname (see what we did there?) Well, since she was a very happy baby who was always smiling, her parents called her “Smiley.” Her name was then shortened to “Miley.”
If you heard the name Shawn Corey Carter, you probably wouldn’t know who he was, right? Well, turns out you do because he’s one of the most famous rappers in the world. Does the stage name Jay-Z ring a bell? Yeah, we thought you’d recognize him.
Beyonce’s hubby chose his rapper name to commemorate his old mentor and producer “Jaz-O.” In 2018, the married artists took his real surname when they formed their musical duo, The Carters.
This singer-songwriter gained international fame from her music on social media. You might know her as Halsey but that name actually has some sentimental value behind it.
Not only is it an anagram of her first name but it is also in honor of the train stop that she used to frequent in Brooklyn. The talented artist was born under the name Ashley Nicolette Frangipane, which doesn’t bear much resemblance to her stage name.
The origin story behind Abel Tesfaye’s stage name is nothing short of surprising. The legendary Canadian singer-songwriter told fans that he dropped out of school and left home at 17.
He explains how he and his friends “left one weekend and never came back.” So, he thought to take the word for his stage name and drop the “e” because there was another Canadian band with that name already.
Anne Holden is a British punk musician and writer who is best known as being a member of the anarchist band Chumbawamba. They were a big success from the early ‘80s but if you don’t recognize her original name, that’s because she ended up legally changing it to Alice Nutter.
Nutter was a woman from 1612 who was hanged after being accused of witchcraft. How’s that for a back story? Pretty freaky stuff!
Lizzo was born Melissa Viviane Jefferson and when the popular rapper and singer was 14, she created her stage name. She joined a rap group called the Cornrow Clique and wanted to be called Lissa, which is based on her real name.
However, when Jay-Z, one of her favorite artists, came out with “Izzo,” she chose to combine the two names. She definitely has a way with words because we love her songs and her stage name.
Born Montero Lamar Hill, Lil Nas X explains how he created one of the most unique stage names of our generation. The first part of the name was decided based on the fact that many other rappers go by “Lil.”
Then, he thought of adding his “internet alias” Nas. He thought the name was fun and well-suited. Soon after, the X was added. In 2021, the rapper came out with his latest album Montero, in honor of his birth name.
Born Onika Tanya Maraj, the Trinidadian-born rapper initially kept her surname but was then changed it. She publicly explains, “One of the first production deals I signed, the guy wanted my name to be Minaj and I fought him tooth and nail. But he convinced me. I’ve always hated it.”
Though the mega-famous artist isn’t the biggest fan of her stage name, we disagree – we think it’s perfectly suited for the queen of hip-hop.
Katy Perry’s stage name is based on her real one. Born as Katheryn Elizabeth Hudson, she shortened it to Katy Hudson when she came out with her debut album in 2001.
However, the album wasn’t a big success and she was worried that her name would be confused with the famous actress Kate Hudson. Katy then took her mother’s maiden name of Perry and the rest is pretty much history.
Lil Wayne was born as Dwayne Michael Carter Jr. The rapper’s parents divorced when he was just two years old when his father walked out on his family. Because of this, he decided at a young age to drop the “D” in his name.
Before he was known to the world as Lil Wayne, the rapper went by other stage names like Weezy, Tunechi, and Shrimp Daddy. However, we all know which remains his most popular one.
Nora Lum attended the La Guardia school in New York where she was classically trained for the trumpet. Other famous musicians who went there include Azealia Banks and Nicki Minaj. While studying there, Lum came up with the stage name Awkwafina as a joke amongst her friends.
However, the joke became real when her music career took off and the name stuck. You might also recognize her from her acting role in Crazy Rich Asians.
When Marshall Bruce Mathers was 14, he started rapping with his friend Mike Ruby. The musical duo chose the stage names “M&M” and “Manix.” Mathers later changed the spelling to “Eminem,” and the rest is history.
However, the rapper’s other well-known names include Slim Shady and Double M. And for anyone wondering, both the latter — as well as his current stage name — stand for his initials. Pretty sentimental, right?
The backstory behind how Robert Matthew Van Winkle chose the stage name “Vanilla Ice” is particularly sweet. As a teenager, the rapper was given this nickname and we’ll give you a moment to guess why…
Duh, because of his pale skin and that unique dance move he created that makes him look as if he’s sliding on ice. Pretty cool, right? See what we did there?
The reason behind why singer-songwriter Ella Marija Lani Yelich-O’Connor took on her stage name is really a fascinating one. The artist has never shied away from writing about her interest in aristocracy (hence her breakout song “Royals”), which is why she chose the name Lorde.
However, she added the “e” to make it sound more feminine. We can’t imagine calling this musical queen anything else now. What do you think?
John-Roger Stephens got his stage name idea after a conversation with the poet J. Ivy. He recalls Ivy saying to him, “I heard your music and it reminds me of that music from the old school. You sound like one of the legends.”
What initially started as a nickname amongst his friends and family became better known than his birth name. Cheers to these memorable pseudonyms!
Alecia Beth Moore created her alias as a teenager after watching Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs. In the film, Steve Buscemi’s character is called Mr. Pink and as you can guess, that is where her main inspiration came from.
A good few decades later and her stage name is still very well-known to the world. What do you think of the spelling? Personally, we love the use of an exclamation mark.
Born Christopher Edwin Breaux, this American singer-songwriter legally changed his name in 2010. His new name Frank Ocean was inspired by both a famous singer and a movie.
Frank Sinatra inspired his first name and we’ll let you guess the film — good job if you thought of the Ocean’s 11 franchise. And if not, you’ll get it right in our next guessing game!
For rapper Austin Richard Post, creating his stage name was not nearly as complicated as it was for other celebrities. Instead of naming himself after his favorite singer or movie, he kept things simple and used a rap name generator online to do all the work.
Before you judge him too harshly, Donald Glover a.k.a Childish Gambino used the same technique. Can we blame them, though? As long as the stage name sounds cool, that’s all that really matters.
The origin story of Alicia Augello-Cook’s stage name is as sentimental as they come. The talented singer-songwriter knew she wanted to keep her first name but thought she needed a surname for showbiz.
Initially, she chose Alicia Wild as her alias but her mom was not a fan of it and convinced her to make another change. She then thought of Keys and as she explains, “It’s like piano keys. And it can open so many doors.”
Believe it or not, Cardi B’s pseudonym is actually short for a certain adult beverage that starts with the letter ‘B.’ Her actual birth name is Belcalis Almanzar and her sister’s name is Hennessy, yet another adult beverage.
The rapper told the origin story to Jimmy Fallon, explaining how her friends and family would call her Bacardi and that was eventually shortened to Cardi B. Imagine shouting out her real name while she performing on stage — it just doesn’t have the same ring to it!
Lana Del Rey
Lana Del Rey was known to the world as Elizabeth Woolridge Grant until the age of 25. Then, while on a trip to Miami with her sister, she created her famous stage name. She had a few others before that but nothing stuck.
She decided on her alter ego of Lana Del Rey because as she puts it — she wanted something “exotic” and that would remind her of “the seaside on the Floridian coast.”
Before Drake was known as one of the most successful rappers in the world, he was a small-time actor in Canada referred to as Aubrey Drake. After starring in the drama show Degrassi: The Next Generation, he soon moved over to music.
While his full birth name is Aubrey Drake Graham, he decided to shorten it even more for his rap career. As you already know now, he went with his now-iconic middle name.
Some might be surprised to learn that Courtney’s surname is not actually “Love.” Instead, her full name is Courtney Michelle Harrison. While at one point the world knew this rock star only by her stage name, she decided to make a big change in 2010.
While she still uses “Courtney Love” when performing, she now prefers to be called by her real name. Weird to think how one person can be known under more than one name, right?
Born Peter Gene Hernandez, the “Locked out of Heaven” singer has actually been nicknamed Bruno since he was a toddler. In an interview with GQ, he explained that his family thought he looked like the wrestler Bruno Sammartino and the name stuck.
However, when Bruno Hernandez tried to make his breakthrough in the music world, his name confused people. This is why he chose his famous alias that we all know and love today.
Queen Latifah chose the latter part of her stage name after looking through Arabic books as a young girl. She explained that “Latifah” means “delicate” and “kind.” Whereas, she chose “Queen” in honor of her mother’s lessons on women.
Surprisingly enough, when she announced her stage name to mother Rita Owens, she was not impressed. To Rita, her daughter would always be Dana Elaine Owens. She even laughed and said to Latifah, “I ain’t calling you Queen.”
Calvin Harris is a mega-famous DJ and singer-songwriter. What many might not know though is that he isn’t actually a “Calvin” at all. We’ll let that sink in for a moment. The Scottish artist’s first track was soulful and he decided to adopt a name that was more “racially ambiguous.”
As he puts it, “I thought people might not know if I was black or not. After that, I was stuck with it.”And that is the story of how “Calvin Harris” was born.
Standup comedian Eric Marlon Bishop made the strategic decision to change his name to one that was androgynous as an attempt to get more stage time. He then decided to keep the name when he began his singing and acting career.
Today, that alias is one of the most famous names in the world. Ladies and gentlemen — give it up for award-winning singer, actor, and comedian Jamie Foxx! Drop the mic!
In 2012, Gerald Earl Gillum, better known by his stage name of G-Eazy announced that his pseudonym was created in the aughts. As the American rapper puts it, “The name probably sounded cool to me when I was 13 (like G-Unit.)”
While he might feel differently about it now, he’s far too famous to make big changes. The world has fallen in love with G-Eazy, so let’s hope he stays as is.
Elton John is one of the best-selling music artists of all time, selling over 300 million records worldwide. The English singer, pianist, and composer’s successful career has spanned over six decades. During that time, he’s been nominated for 34 Grammy Awards — six of which he won. He’s also been knighted by the Queen, and had a biopic made about him.
His greatest fans will know that he was actually born Reginald Kenneth Dwight and changed his name in honor of blues saxophonist Elton Dean and singer Long John Baldry.
Jacques Bermon Webster II honored his uncle by taking on his first name “Travis.” The “Goosebumps” rapper told several publications that he really respected his uncle Travis and admired the fact that he played golf and “made good business decisions.”
Another man that he looks up to is Kid Cudi, so he chose the rapper’s real name “Scott.” Let’s give it up for Travis Scott and his sentimental stage name!
Zayn Malik’s stage name has a different story to it. Instead of changing his name, Zain Javadd Malik merely changed the spelling. In Arabic, his name means “beautiful king,” where his surname refers to “king” or “chieftain.”
It’s unknown why Zayn decided to change the spelling of his first name but we can all assume he dropped his middle name to be more simple and catchy.
Doja Cat is one of our rising star female rappers and while we all love her hit songs, her memorable name is just as popular. But, before you get too used to calling her by her stage name, the artist’s birth name is actually Amala Ratna Zandile Dlamini.
She decided to name herself after two of her two favorite things in life — cats and a certain wild plant that’s illegal to enjoy in some countries.
It’s hard to wrap our heads around the fact that we don’t actually know the name of one of the Fast & Furious’ most beloved cast members. While to the world Dominic Toretto is played by Vin Diesel, the actor’s family and friends know him as Mark Sinclair.
Before his rise to fame, Mark was a bouncer who needed a tougher-sounding name. He chose “Vin” after his stepfather’s surname “Vincent” and his friends chose “Diesel” due to his energetic personality.
When Emily Jean Stone was beginning her acting career, she found out that her name was already registered at the Screen Actors Guild. Because of this mix-up, she had to figure out an alias.
She tried her hand at a few names, such as “Riley Stone,” but in the end, she settled on a name inspired by her favorite Spice Girls member. For those still scratching their heads, we’re referring to Baby Spice a.k.a Emma Bunton.
Whoopi Goldberg’s stage name origin story is pretty funny. The comedian and actress has explained that “people used to say to me, ‘You’re like a whoopee cushion.'” If you’re struggling to understand the reference, it’s because she was known to be “a little gassy.”
The latter part of her alias was taken from her mother’s maiden name. Believe it or not, The View co-host was born Caryn Elaine Johnson.
Reese Witherspoon is one of the most beloved southern belle actresses of our time. Yet, many fans would be surprised to know that her first name is actually not Reese. Born Laura Jeanne Reese Witherspoon in New Orleans, the actress decided to take her mother’s maiden name when making her first steps as an actress.
Even though the name we know and love her by is part of her real name, it’s strange to think that her friends and family might use a different name when addressing her.